Headline, August 18 2023/ ''' '' DON'S WORLDLY DOTS '' '''


 DOTS '' '''

THROUGH THE DARK CLOUDS SHINING. AT FIRST there were words, so many words. '' Chrysanthemum '' was a favorite. He used to like saying that one. 

And ''Dahlia'' too - he liked that one so much he would repeat it : '' Dahlia! Dahlia! Dahlia! '' The five-year-old Donald Triplett had non-floral favorites as well. Sometimes, he sounded like an irate grammarian : '' Semicolon, capital, slain, slain,'' he would say.

Then, as if conciliatory : '' I could put a little comma.'' Some of his phrases has an almost biblical beauty : '' Through the dark clouds shining.''

But if his words could be brilliant his meaning was often opaque. When he said ''you'' he meant ''me''. When he said ''yes'' it meant ''pick me up and put me on your shoulders..'' When someone stood on his toy he said ''umbrella''. And what he meant by ''chrysanthemum'' was anybody's guess. 

He had other idiosyncrasies, too. He shook his head, constantly, from side to side. He gave people numbers, not just names. And if his toys weren't just so, he screamed till the muscles stood out on his neck. Most upsetting of all, he never seemed glad to see his mother, Mary.

But he loved making things - blocks, pan, ashtrays, anything at all - spin. And when they span the boy would, as the psychiatrist's report observed, jump up and down '' in ecstasy''.

There were so many words. But there was no word for Donald. In the 1930s American psychiatry was not short of terms for what they called ''nature's mistakes''. There was ''imbecile'' and ''cretin'' and ''lunatic'' ; there was ''simpleton'' and ''dullard'' and ''dunce''.

AN EARLIER DOCTOR, near her home in Forest, Mississippi, had been far less cautious. He had known exactly what was wrong with Mary's boy : it was Mary. She had overstimulated him, with all her songs and all that talking.

He knew how to cure him, too : Mary must put Donald in an institution, away from her. And, in a way, it worked : Donald's tantrums and streamings stopped. However, so did everything else. There was no more humming, or singing, or spinning. He was three years old.

Psychiatric Kanner started work on a paper. He would include ten other children in it too but Donald would be his first : '' Case 1''. Many of these children had wildly different characteristics, he wrote. However they all shared one thing : an 

''inability to relate themselves in the ordinary way to people.''

Common English had no word for this, so Kanner borrowed a word for it from elsewhere in psychiatry. The word he chose came from a Greek word, ''autos'', which meant ''self.'' Donald, he wrote, was ''autistic.'' Kanner's paper has been cited 17,000 times.

STUDENT Don graduated from high school; learned to drive and even got a job in the bank. He could add long numbers in his head faster than you could type them into a calculator. Sure, he was different. And never much of a one for chit-chat. But there was just Don. Too clever for his own good. A genius they reckoned.

And Don was happy. He still gave numbers to people, too. Pastor Mark was 472. His friend Celeste was 1, 315. Olivia and Toby were 154 and 155. And he just loved to flick people with rubber bands. At first he had flicked his colleagues at work, but then he got in a whole lot of trouble.

Later, when other people started to know who Don was too, Forest looked out for him. When some journalists had wanted to write about him, they'd approach locals to ask if they could be introduced. Sure, they had said. Then they had said : and if you hurt him in any way we'll make sure you regret it. 

Don's story became a book; the book became a film. ''In A Different Key'' ; and Don became an entry in the ''Encyclopaedia Britannica''.

Though to the people of Forest, he was always just Don. The pastor who preached at his funeral began his sermon by introducing himself with his number : I'm 472, he said. Later others in the congregation had joined in : I'm 1,316. I'm 40. I'm 30.

But Don had never given himself a number, so neither did they. To them, Donald Triplett -CASE 1- was always just Don.

The World Students Society thanks The Economist for this brilliant Obituary.

With most loving and respectful dedication to The Global Founder Framers of !WOW!, Mankind and then Students, Professors and Teachers of the world.

See You all prepare for Great Global Elections on !WOW! wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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