Autism diagnosis has come a long way since WWII

SOUTH CENTRAL KENTUCKY – Donald Gray Triplett, the first person to ever be diagnosed with autism, passed away June 15. He was 89 years old.

When Triplett was just a child, his family sent him off to a facility in Sanatorium, Mississippi when they began having problems with their son. In present times, we would never think of sending a 4-year-old to a mental institution, but this was a more common practice in those times.

Triplett exhibited many of the symptoms we commonly associate with autism in today’s world. After being pulled from the facility after just a year, his parents were able to have him seen by Leo Kanner, a renowned child psychiatrist.

Kanner came to work with 10 other children, who displayed the same symptoms but named Triplett, “Case 1” in a book he published in 1938.

Autism research has come a long way since those days, with several different people being consulted on a child’s behavior while trying to give a diagnosis.

Speaking with Kathleen Hart of LifeSkills and Dr. Suman Shekar of Med Center Health, they say it’s important to remember that autism is a spectrum, and symptoms can vary greatly from person to person.