Donald G. Triplett, the first person ever diagnosed with autism, passed away at the age of 89. His life and journey have been the subject of a book titled “In a Different Key,” a PBS documentary film. Along with a BBC news magazine series, and countless medical journal articles.
A Remarkable Individual
To the Bank of Forest employees, where Triplett worked for an impressive 65 years, he was simply known as “Don”. Interestingly, Triplett’s father, Beamon Triplett,was a primary shareholder in the bank. Chief Executive Allen Breland described Triplett as a fiercely independent savant and a remarkable individual who kept things interesting. Despite the assumption that he was living in his own world, Triplett was passionate about golf and travel, frequently flying to exotic locales.
A Unique Diagnosis
Triplett’s autism diagnosis came about through a detailed 22-page letter sent by his parents to a researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Furthermore, this letter contained crucial observations about Triplett’s aptitudes and behaviour. Hence making it a primary reference document for the study of autism. Austrian child psychiatrist Leo Kanner, who examined Triplett in 1938, initially found himself baffled by the boy’s symptoms. However, after seeing 10 children with similar symptoms, Kanner published an article in 1943 outlining the basic symptoms of what would later be known as autism, referring to Triplett as “Case 1”
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Triplett’s story offers hope to parents of children who are different. His nephew, Oliver Triplett, expressed how the community of Forest embraced and accepted Don, providing hope that children on different levels of the autism spectrum can live happy and fulfilling lives at the time.
Legacy and Impact
As the first person diagnosed with autism, Donald Triplett’s life has had a profound impact on the understanding and awareness of the autism. His story has been shared through various mediums, shedding light on the experiences of individuals with autism and inspiring others to embrace and support neurodiversity.
Donald Triplett’s life and journey as the first person diagnosed with autism have left an indelible mark on the world. His story serves as a beacon of hope and acceptance. A reminder of the importance of embracing and celebrating the uniqueness of every individual.