The first man with autism

The Atlantic has an amazing article about the first person ever diagnosed with autism, the now 77 year-old Donald Triplett, who plays a mean game of golf and seems to be doing just fine.

The piece tracks the history of both Triplett and our understanding of autism which has changed radically since the diagnosis was first used in the 1940s.

However, it is Triplett’s life story which really bring the article alive.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Donald’s life is that he grew up to be an avid traveler. He has been to Germany, Tunisia, Hungary, Dubai, Spain, Portugal, France, Bulgaria, and Colombia—some 36 foreign countries and 28 U.S. states in all, including Egypt three times, Istanbul five times, and Hawaii 17. He’s notched one African safari, several cruises, and innumerable PGA tournaments.

It’s not wanderlust exactly. Most times, he sets six days as his maximum time away, and maintains no contact afterward with people he meets along the way. He makes it a mission to get his own snapshots of places he’s already seen in pictures, and assembles them into albums when he gets home. Then he gets to work planning his next foray, calling the airlines himself for domestic travel, and relying on a travel agent in Jackson when he’s going overseas. He is, in all likelihood, the best-traveled man in Forest, Mississippi.

This is the same man whose favorite pastimes, as a boy, were spinning objects, spinning himself, and rolling nonsense words around in his mouth.


Link to The Atlantic on ‘Autism’s First Child’.

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