Donald Triplett, first person diagnosed with autism, dies at 89


FOREST, Miss. — The Mississippi man known as “Case 1,” the first person to be diagnosed with autism, has died.

Donald G. Triplett was the subject of a book titled “In a Different Key”, a PBS documentary film, an installment of BBC News Magazine, and countless medical journal articles.

But to employees at Bank of Forest, in a small town about 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of Jackson, he was simply “Don,” WLBT-TV. reported.

Triplett died Thursday, confirmed Lesa Davis, a senior vice president at the bank. She was 89.

triplet He worked for 65 years at the bank where his father, Beamon Triplett, was a major shareholder.

“Don was a remarkable person,” CEO Allen Breland said of Triplett, who was known as a fiercely independent savant. “And he kept things interesting.”

Triplett, a 1958 Millsaps College graduate, enjoyed golf and travel and frequently flew to exotic locales, Breland said.

“He was in his own world, but if you gave him two three-digit numbers, he could multiply them faster than you could get the answer on a calculator,” he told the television station.

Triplett’s autism diagnosis stemmed from a detailed 22-page letter sent to a Johns Hopkins researcher in Baltimore that contained revealing observations from her parents about her aptitudes and behavior. The letter remains a primary reference document for those who study the disorder.

Oliver Triplett, Triplett’s nephew, said The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate that her uncle’s story offers hope to parents of children who are different.

“You can see Don and a community that embraced him,” he said. “For the most part, Forest encouraged him and accepted him. He gives people who have children at different levels of the spectrum hope that their children can live happy and fulfilling lives.

Funeral services for Triplett will be at 11 am Monday at Forest Presbyterian Church.

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