Helen Keller was born in 1880, a perfectly healthy baby. However in 1882, she caught what was then called “brain fever.” It was probably either scarlet fever or meningitis. Up until then Helen had been a very precocious child; for example, she began to talk at just six months of age. However, the illness was very serious and robbed of her sight and hearing at about 19 months old. Helen became very angry and confused, and she began to act out in disturbing ways. She threw violent tantrums. Mealtime was a dreadful time because she would get down from her chair and steal food right from the plates of others. Unfortunately, her parents were at at loss as to what to do to help her. Her father wrote a letter to the Perkins Institute for the Blind pleading for help. Soon, an angel named Annie Sullivan arrived.
At first, Annie took complete charge of her, tackling her inappropriate social behaviors first. Annie soon began to spell words, but how would teach Helen the meaning of these words? One day, they were at the water pump. Annie kept spelling W-A-T-E-R into her hand until the light bulb went off in Helen’s head! W-A-T-E-R was the wet liquid flowing on her hands. This led to countless other breakthroughs! She certainly had not lost her precociousness; Helen was very quick and curious to learn.
This is my favorite quote from Helen Keller.
Helen stayed close to Annie until Annie’s passing in 1936.