"The only things I could teach Helen were obedience and love." These were the words of Anne Sullivan also known as Teacher, the companion of Helen Keller for more than 50 years."
For those of you who don't know Helen Keller, a brief background. Helen was born in 1880 and at the age of 18 months suffered a mysterious illness which left her blind, deaf and because she was unable to hear she became dumb as well.
She is described as being a rebel, out of control and with bad manners. Her parents employed Anne to try and teach her to cope in the "normal" world because they realised they would not be around forever to look after her.
Anne decided to treat Helen as a seeing and hearing child having enormous patience in repeating actions and spelling out words on Helen's hands.
She did not react to Helen's tantrums. She simply ignored them until Helen realised there was no point in throwing them. Yet her frustration at being so handicapped must have been enormous.
Helen learned to cook, to type, to read Braille and at the age of 16 she and Anne went off to college where Anne patiently tapped out everything the lecturer said onto Helen's hand. Miraculously she got her degree.
Furthermore, Helen learned to dive, swim, ride a horse, garden and even paddle a canoe.
Helen believed that being blind was a far greater handicap than being deaf so she decided to devote her life to helping those who were blind.
With great difficulty she even learnt to speak, not well but sufficiently to make short speeches on her 6 fundraising trips around the world. She raised more than $1 million which in those days was an absolute fortune.
She was able to support herself financially by becoming a writer.
What are the lessons here for those with ADHD
- Anne treated Helen as a normal hearing and speaking child. Don't wrap your child in cotton wool. They need to learn that the world is a harsh place and even though they are different they can overcome their difficulties and achieve great things. Treat your child as the person you want them to become.
- Do not react to negative behaviour. ADDers are great manipulators and learn how to push your buttons very young.
- Helen used her handicap to do good. ADDers are generally bright, creative, sensitive people who are capable of achieving great things. Focus on their strengths, build their self esteem and encourage them to find their particular passion and to use it to full advantage. ADDers are great in forensic work, the arts, journalism and IT to name a few. Don't force them into a career because of earning potential. They may succeed at first but will become bored and disillusioned.
- Lastly Anne taught Helen about love and commitment. Anne loved Helen unconditionally and selflessly devoted her life to helping Helen reach incredible goals. In turn Helen learned to use what she had learned to help others.
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