Autism’s First Child

Autism’s First Child

Note: Donald Triplett passed away on June 15, 2023. He was 89. Donald lived a full and happy life in Forest, Mississippi, and will be missed by many. This podcast is a tribute to his life and legacy. Autism's First Child traces 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. But he went on to live nearly nine happy decades in Forest, Mississippi. What can his story teach us about creating a better world for those who are “different”?

Episodes

December 13, 2022 22 mins

On Tuesday, December 13, at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central, John and Caren's documentary 'In a Different Key' premieres on PBS. They kindly joined iHeart's Mike Coscarelli to talk about the film, the reaction they've been getting to this podcast, and the latest adventures of Donald Triplett.

For more information, or to arrange a screening in your community, visit inadifferentkeythemovie.com.

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Mark as Played

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.

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Mark as Played
May 16, 2022 38 mins

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.

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May 5, 2022 37 mins

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.

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Mark as Played
April 29, 2022 38 mins

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.

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Mark as Played
April 21, 2022 34 mins

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. 

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Mark as Played
April 14, 2022 35 mins

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.

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Mark as Played
April 5, 2022 2 mins

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Mark as Played

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