Thursday, May 13

Deaf, blind, student lacks "Keller Instinct."

Teacher asks: "Who do you think I am? Some kind of miracle worker?"

Stow, OH — Kathy Perkins would like the world to know that she is no Anne Sullivan.  And that her deafblind pupil, Stephanie Wentling, is certainly no Helen Keller.

Wentling, 6, bears an uncanny resemblance to Keller, whom teacher Sullivan helped transform into the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor's Degree — and who went on to become a world-class activist and lecturer. Due to the constant comparisons, Perkins feels an abundance of pressure to do the same with Wentling.

"It's like when you compare any basketball prodigy to Michael F-ing Jordan. The expectations are so unreal."

The Wentling family, whom have three other completely non-Helen-Keller children, asked Perkins to work closely with their youngest daughter Stephanie, hoping the two's story would later be portrayed in a made-for-TV movie or Broadway play.

Perkins, who works in the Wentling home, spends eight to ten exhausting hours a day with the impaired child.  Lessons include sign language, shape and form recognition, and not picking one's nose and eating it.

"People are really expecting big things out of her. And me. It can be a little intimidating. Hell, Keller wrote 12 books, she won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she was elected to the National Women's Hall of Fame! She introduced the Akita dog breed to the United States for crying out loud! This kid will be lucky if she knows what a dog is." Perkins confided, once away from the parents.

Still, Perkins remains steadfast that she can at least help the child learn to eat with utensils and use the bathroom.

"It would be nice if she ended up on the state quarter, like Helen Keller, but let's not kid ourselves. This kid is deaf, blind, and frankly, pretty dumb."