Helen Keller was daring and adventurous in childhood and throughout her life. After becoming deaf and blind due to an illness at only eighteen months of age, Helen had to survive on her own perseverance and persistence from early childhood to adulthood.
In that era, blind children were referred to as “children of the silent night,” and they would typically demonstrate difficult behavior. Helen was no exception to having temper tantrums. Helen was a troublemaker in the household, but no one had the heart to punish her, especially her mother.
However, it was that rambunctious spirit that held Helen together in her most trying times. Helen also met Dr. Alexander Graham Bell when she was six years old. Her parents wanted him to meet her so they could get advice regarding Helen’s future.
While some people would find blindness and deafness a disadvantage, Helen could not accept defeat. It was her daring and adventurous spirit that helped her throughout her endeavors. Relying on the help of her family and friends, Helen learned to find light and hope in her dark visual world. She got help from her teacher, Anne Sullivan, at the Perkins Institute for the Blind.
While training with her teacher, Helen learned to feel objects and then associate them with words spelled out on the palm of her hand. She could also read sentences by feeling raised words on cardboard. She then learned to lip read by placing her hands on the throat and lips of the speaker while words were spelled out for her.
While at the Perkins Institute, Helen met other blind children and connected with them. Sullivan also took Helen to Cape Cod for one summer, and Helen notes wonderful memories by the seashore. Helen loved the outdoors and the changing seasons. She loved the snow and icicles, and she loved to toboggan in the winter. She also later learned how to manage canoeing and sailing. She even visited Niagara Falls and was captured by its magical power.
At age of sixteen, Helen entered Cambridge School for Young Ladies in Massachusetts; she later entered Radcliffe College. In college, she was always enthusiastic about reading books and learning. Helen has stated that “the best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”