The First Person

In Tuesday’s blog, I shared my thoughts about In A Different Key: The Story of Autism. Today, I wanted to take a moment to dig deeper into one of the most remarkable stories from the book. Do you know who the first person to be diagnosed with Autism was? I had no idea. It was Donald Gray Triplett, born in 1933 in a small, rural town known as Forest, Mississippi. He was first seen by psychiatrist Dr. Leo Kanner in 1938 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Kanner was baffled by the boy’s symptoms and was initially unable to diagnose him. However, in Dr. Kanner’s 1943 paper, “Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact,” Donald Triplett was referred to as Case 1, Donald T.

Donald lived with his parents most of his life in Forest, and was widely accepted by the community. He attended the local high school and later went on to receive his undergraduate degree from a college in Jackson. He later returned to his hometown, where he worked at the bank owned by his family. Throughout his life, Donald was able to learn to drive and traveled abroad extensively.Today, Donald is 82 years old, and continues to live in Forest.

I hope my brief introduction whets your appetite to picking up a copy of In A Different Key: The Story of Autism and learning more about Donald and his incredible journey!

Donald T

Photos of Donald Triplett, the first person diagnosed with Autism.

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