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Left her without sight or hearing -- a severe and extremely rare handicap.
At the age of nineteen months, Helen Keller contracted a brief illness (most likely scarlet fever or meningitis) that left her without sight or hearing — a severe and extremely rare handicap. Over the next few years, Keller and her family were able to communicate through a series of crude signs that she developed with the young daughter of her family’s cook. Although Keller was able to understand some of what was happening around her, she was “vexed” (as she explained in her autobiography) and sometimes grew so angry that “I kicked and screamed until I was exhausted.” Her parents feared they would be unable to manage her when she grew older; her mother worried that she might someday be raped. No one knew what to do.
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