Finding Donald

John Donvan and Caren Zucker tell the story behind their Atlantic article on autism's first patient

John Donvan and Caren Zucker tell the story behind their Atlantic article on autism's first patient

Also see: Autism's First Child by John Donvan and Caren Zucker

 

The Atlantic, October 2010

The needs of those with lower-functioning varieties of autism will be profound and constant. How we respond to those needs will be shaped in great measure by how we choose to view adults with autism. We can dissociate from them, regarding them as tragically broken persons, and hope we are humane enough to shoulder the burden of meeting their basic needs. Alternatively, we can dispense with the layers of sorrow, and interpret autism as but one more wrinkle in the fabric of humanity. Donald Triplett, the first person cast in the story of autism, has spent time in the worlds shaped by each of these views.

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she edits digital features.

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