Donald G. Triplett, widely recognized as the first person ever diagnosed with autism and referred to as Case 1 in scientific literature, sadly passed away on Thursday at the age of 89. His groundbreaking life story has been chronicled in various forms, including a book, a PBS documentary, a BBC news magazine feature, and numerous medical journal articles.
Triplett, a remarkable individual, graduated from Millsaps College in 1958 and remained employed at a local bank for an impressive span of 65 years, a business in which his father held a significant stake.
At the tender age of five, Triplett received the historic diagnosis of autism. The diagnosis was based on a meticulously crafted 22-page letter that his parents sent to a researcher at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, containing detailed observations about his abilities and behavior. This letter remains a crucial reference in the field of autism research, highlighting the early understanding of the condition.
Oliver Triplett, Don’s nephew, reflected on the impact of his uncle’s life, stating, “Parents of children who are different can look to Don and the supportive community that embraced him. The town of Forest as a whole encouraged him and accepted him. It provides hope for families with children across the autism spectrum, inspiring them to believe that their loved ones can lead fulfilling and joyful lives.”
Apart from his influential role as an autism pioneer, Triplett possessed diverse interests that included a passion for golf, travel, and exploring exotic destinations.
Donald G. Triplett’s legacy as Case 1 and his journey as an individual with autism will continue to inspire future generations, ensuring that his profound impact on the understanding and acceptance of autism remains enduring.