In The Story of My Life, how does Helen turn into an isolated and tormented child?  

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Helen was tormented because she could not communicate with others due to the fact that her illness took her sight and hearing.

Helen became blind and deaf from an illness when she was a toddler.  Her parents thought she would die at first.  It was a very bad illness, which the doctors called “acute congestion of the stomach and brain.”  Although she lost her sight and hearing, she otherwise fully recovered.

Gradually I got used to the silence and darkness that surrounded me and forgot that it had ever been different, until she came–my teacher–who was to set my spirit free. (Ch. 1)

Helen was frustrated because when she became ill she was still a baby. She had only just begun to walk and barely knew how to talk. Therefore, she did not have the opportunity to learn words and could only communicate with the people around her with primitive, invented signs.  She was intelligent enough to know that other people used their mouths to talk and the fact that she didn’t really know words bothered her to no end.

I had noticed that my mother and my friends did not use signs as I did when they wanted anything done, but talked with their mouths. ... I could not understand, and was vexed. … This made me so angry at times that I kicked and screamed until I was exhausted. (Ch. 2)

Finally, Helen’s parents were introduced to Anne Sullivan through the Perkins Institute, and she showed Helen Keller the beauty of language.  Learning signs didn't take Helen very long, because she was so smart.  Her teacher showed her how to communicate by connecting words with meaning and making sign letters into her hand.  Her first word was water, and from then there was a whole new world opened to Helen and she could finally communicate with others.

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