reportage Through the looking glass
He was an odd little boy. When he was two, Donald could hum hundreds of different tunes and count up to a hundred. He could recite the alphabet without making a single mistake and some people thought he was a genius. His behaviour was so strange, however, that his parents took him to see the child psychiatrist Dr Leo Kanner in Baltimore. This was in 1943, and Donald was the first person to be identified as suffering from autism. But in many ways he was a kind of double exception to the rule. Most autistic people, unlike Donald or Dustin Hoffman’s Rainman, have no extraordinary gifts, except the ability they all have of creating enormous suffering both for themselves and for the people who try their best to care for them.

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Spring 1999 | Eric Dexheimer (Editing) and related links | Archive | Back | Next | 3a of 10