Logan Prickett had been in a coma for nearly 12 days. The 13-year-old from Ohatchee, Alabama, had gone in for a routine MRI but soon slipped into unconsciousness, a rare allergic reaction to the contrast agents in his MRI. His family thought he would never wake up. When he did, he couldn’t walk, he lost many fine motor skills, and he couldn’t raise his voice above a whisper. He was also almost completely blind. For an active teen like Prickett, the changes were devastating. But his mind was still the same.
But when he returned to school a year later, he faced a slew of obstacles to learning advanced math. He could no longer read textbooks, and his limited range of motion prevented him from using Braille’s math equivalent. When in 2014 he enrolled in Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) in Alabama as a psychology major, his frustrations peaked: How was he supposed to learn the precalculus and advanced statistics he would need to earn his degree and get into graduate school?
Before Prickett’s first year began, he met Ann Gully, a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) tutoring coordinator at AUM. She wanted to do everything she could to help him, and she started by making sandpaper cutouts of numbers and symbols, hoping Prickett might be able to literally feel his way through the math problems. But after several unsuccessful attempts, she realized it was going to take more. “We were just going to have to describe this math to him, and describe it in a way that he wouldn’t get lost in the weeds.”