She was a bright infant, interested in everything around her, and imitating adults at a very young age. In February of 1882, she was struck with an illness which left her deaf and blind. For several years, Helen had very little communication with the rest of the world, except for a few signs which she used with her family. When she was six, her parents wanted desperately to do something to help their strong-willed, half-wild, child. They were far from any deaf or blind schools, and doubted that anyone would come to the little town to educate their deaf and blind child. They heard of a doctor in Baltimore who had helped many seemingly hopeless cases of blindness, but when he examined Helen, there was nothing he could do for her. However, he referred them to Dr.Alexander Graham Bell who recommended Anne Sullivan to teach Helen.
On March 3, 1887 Helen met "the Miracle Worker," Anne Mansfield Sullivan. Then, about a month later on April 5, Helen associated the water running over her hand with the letters w-a-t-e r that Anne was spelling into her hand. That day she learned thirty words and proved to be a very intelligent, fast learner from then on. She quickly learned the finger-tip alphabet and shortly thereafter, to write. Helen had mastered Braille and learned how to use a typewriter by the age of 10. When she was 16, she could speak well enough to attend preparatory school and college. In 1904 she graduated from Radcliffe College with Anne Sullivan by her side interpreting lectures and class discussion to her.