Autism’s First Child

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Tracing the history of autism through the first person ever diagnosed, and the rural community that helped raise him. Named “Case 1” in 1943, Donald Triplett was in and out of an institution, and spent time with history’s most important child psychiatrist, by the time he was five. Now 88, Donald has lived a full and happy life in Forest, Mississippi. What can his story teach us about creating a better world for those who are “different”?

Episode Date
Christmas in Forest
In our final episode, we head down to Mississippi to meet Donald at the Bank of Forest Christmas party. He’s surrounded by love and acceptance and support. But there’s one last piece of the story that we didn’t get to yet — and it’s as important as the rest of it. See for privacy information.
May 23, 2022
Donald on the Move
Donald Triplett graduated high school and then made it through college. Moving through adulthood he discovers pastimes that bring meaning and purpose to his life. See for privacy information.
May 16, 2022
See the Forest
Donald Triplett grew up in a family that was rich, powerful, and white in the Jim Crow South. But what might his life have been like if he were poor and black? On this episode, we explore the intersection of race, resources, and autism. See for privacy information.
May 05, 2022
I Wish Myself Luck
After a difficult start to life, Donald Triplett, the little boy whose own mother described as “hopelessly insane,” is given a second chance. While psychologists try to make sense of Donald’s strange disorder, Donald does his best to fit into a world that doesn’t understand him. See for privacy information.
Apr 29, 2022
Kanner Syndrome
Beamon and Mary Triplett discharge their three-year-old son, Donald, from a Mississippi institution. They appeal to Dr. Leo Kanner, the father of child psychiatry, who is intrigued by the boy’s remarkable memory and singular behavior. After years of studying children with similar attributes, Dr. Kanner makes the diagnosis that changes history.  See for privacy information.
Apr 21, 2022
Fitter Families
Born in 1933, Donald T. of Forest, Mississippi exhibits strange behaviors that neither his parents, Beamon and Mary, nor doctors can understand. It’s the Eugenics era, when people who are different are considered degenerates, imbeciles, and threats to society best kept locked away in institutions. Beamon and Mary have other ideas. See for privacy information.
Apr 14, 2022
Introducing: Autism's First Child
See for privacy information.
Apr 05, 2022