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Victor, a child with Pitt Hopkins syndrome. Photograph by Olivia Surgnier, Fried Bananas Photography

The real life boy behind the legend of Peter Pan is believed to have had Pitt Hopkins Syndrome. Let’s connect the dots to Neverland where “all the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust”.

Before Neverland, there was Kensington Gardens, and before the legend of Peter Pan was written, there were the true 18th century adventures of Peter the Wild Boy. It is the most magical story because it is actually true.

In 1725, Peter the Wild Boy was found living in the forest near Hanover, Germany and brought to live in Kensington Palace where King George and his daughter-in-law, Princess Caroline, looked after him. Peter’s innocence, intuition and charm won the hearts of the Royal Family who fell in love with the boy who never grew up. All of society was talking about him. Jonathan Swift wrote in exasperation, “There is scarcely talk of anything else.” Swift himself wrote extensively about Peter, as did Daniel Defoe, and other contemporary writers.

Nearly 100 years later, J.M. Barrie came to live across the street from Kensington Gardens where tale of the gentle, fun-loving Wild Boy was still being told. Some scholars believe it was part of the inspiration for his book “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.”

Peter the Wild Boy (1713-1785). Painting by William Kent, Kensington Palace

Peter the Wild Boy (1713-1785). Painting by William Kent, Kensington Palace

Today, 200 years later, geneticists believe that Peter the Wild Boy actually had Pitt Hopkins Syndrome! That’s why he couldn’t speak (like our children) and never lost his child like curiosity. Imagine that—there are only 500 diagnosed children with Pitt Hopkins in the world, and the inspiration for Peter Pan may have been one of them!

We’re hoping you will find this story as inspirational as we do and help us share it with special needs families in your lives. Peter the Wild Boy’s portrait still hangs in Kensington Palace. In it you can see the cupid bow lips of our Pitt Hopkins children and the impish red hair and eye twinkle of Peter Pan.

Peter Pan is remembered as the boy who never grew up…a boy who captured the hearts of the young and the old through his magical ways.  The story of Peter Pan helps us find some blessings in the pain.  Peter Pan, we think, would’ve been very proud of our Pitt Hopkins children. Just as we are.

“Think of all the joy you’ll find when you leave the world behind and bid your cares goodbye” – Peter Pan

Written by Heather Maginn and Audrey Davidow Lapidus

Peter the Wild Boy:

Inspiration for Peter Pan:

Yahoo Parenting article, by Beth Greenfield, The Intriguing Story Behind Peter Pan: