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The Oldest Autism Patient Defies All Misconceptions

Posted by Brian Spence on Mar 7, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Autism, Mental Health, Behavioral HealthWhen we consider all that we know about autism, we should credit Donald Triplett. Now 82 years old, Donald Triplett was autism's first ever case diagnosed in the United States. In a new book, In a Different Key: The Story of Autism, authors Caren Zucker and John Donvan shed light on Donald Triplett's life and how he became an important figure in the ongoing study of autism.

The book describes the medical landscape of the 1940s before any known cases of autism were discovered.

Mary and Beamon Triplett sought help from medical experts when their son, Donald, began displaying odd behavior. Doctors told the parents to send Donald to an institution, where he stayed for a year until his parents changed their minds. In 1942, Donald's parents found Dr. Leo Kanner, a child psychologist willing to help the family. Dr. Kanner's then diagnosed Donald with autism, which became the first case of autism ever recorded. 

However, Donald Triplett is more than just a medical case for autism. His life is also a great example of how people with autism can live full and long lives. With a high school and college degree, independent living in the house he grew up in, a job at his family's bank, and his extensive global travels, Donald Triplett proves that life with autism has no limits. he's an avid golfer and drives himself around, and meets with a regular group of guys for coffee. Due to the loving and supporting environment of his hometown, Forest, Mississippi, Donald also receives protection from strangers.

Donald Triplett's life and hometown serve as an inspiring story we should all learn from. To learn more about autism and related topics, visit the Mentaland Behavioral Health sections of our blog.


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Topics: Behavioral Health, Mental Health

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