by Alicia Montgomery
(Marysville, CA USA)
The first time I heard about Helen Keller was in 1968, the year she died, I was 10 years old. I was immediately intrigued by what I was hearing about her on TV. My curiosity got the best of me and I had to go to the library and check out a book about her. When the movie about her came out I watched it many times.
Her journey through a life of darkness and silence was inspiring. She had her familiar surroundings and immediate family helped her to know what was going on around her until the stranger, Ann Sullivan, entered her life to teach her unfamiliar things and take her away from her surroundings and routines. I love that once Helen began to understand, she was like a sponge and soaked up everything she could about signing, speaking, reading and writing in Braille, she graduated college, with honors, and became an author and speaker. She was a strong, independent woman who didn’t let her impairments get in the way.
Now I have a 4 year old grandson, Gabriel, who is autistic and learning sign language. Even though Gabe is hearing he is very similar to Helen Keller in her younger years because he can’t speak and is only familiar with immediate family and doesn’t adapt well to change. My admiration for Helen Keller and my love for my grandson has inspired me to learn sign language and about the deaf culture.