Brendon Burchard once told, “When you are willing to learn and believe in your ability to ‘figure things out,’ then fear becomes tamable.” This statement sums up the lives of Beamon and Mary Triplett regarding their son, Donald, the first child ever diagnosed with Autism. Mary and Beamon believed that their son had something special to contribute to the world, and they went against society when they pulled him from the state institution. They learned about Kanner, and they knew that somehow, they could provide a better life for their son.
Once they brought Donald home life became a little different. Mary spent a lot of time with Donald, playing and interacting with him. The two of them had a special bond that Kanner, along with other people, noticed. When the time came for Donald to go to school Mary was very instrumental. The principal of the school was a friend of hers, who was immensely helpful. Donald was placed in a typical first-grade class. The teacher worked with him and got him integrated into the class. However, it took about one month. Donald then was walking in line, paid attention to lessons, and taking part in reading lessons. After observing the class, Mary would write her observations in a letter to Kanner.
School worked great until Donald reached ten years old. By then, the differences socially and academically were too widespread. Mary then took Donald home. Realizing the demand of Donald’s needs was too great for her, Mary found a couple who lived on a farm about 18 minutes from their home. This couple had no children of their own, but they loved Donald and were happy to help him. This couple put a lot of common sense into frequent practice. They observed Donald’s liking routine, so they implemented a daily routine that included Donald taking care of himself and his daily chores. When he took an interest in measuring items, they taught him how to measure farm field rows and how to space plant seeds apart, all using his favorite yardstick. Donald blossomed spending about four years with this couple. Then it was off to high school.
In the early 1950s, civil unrest was rapid throughout the United States. The city of Forest, Mississippi was a very sweet place to live in these turbulent times. Donald’s parents were very well-connected in the community, serving in many volunteer positions. Beamon was known as the best lawyer in town, and Mary was known for having many ladies’ luncheons and dinner parties at her home. However, Donald’s high school experience was phenomenal. The students and teachers treated him very kindly and included him in various parts of the high school experience. He was in the chorus and Future Farmers of America. In his final semester, Donald was chosen to be in the school play. After high school, he attended college and earned a degree. The outcome of all these factors was that Donald was very well-liked, supported, and looked out for in this little city. To this day Donald, who is 89, still lives and works in this city.
Beamon and Mary were willing to step outside the comfort zone of society’s norms. They believed in the notion that their son could grow up outside of an institution and have a fulfilled life. Their determination pushed them to figure out the best situations for Donald as he grew up. Their determination to figure things out advanced the world of autism research to the point it is at today. Determination to do the best they could for their little boy has been an overwhelming asset to the world of Autism.