A young boy who has run away from a home for mentally handicapped children is found dead. When Quincy performs the autopsy, however, he can find no medical reason for the boy being labeled ... See full summary »


(as Ronald Satlof)


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Garry Walberg ...
John S. Ragin ...
Joseph Roman ...
Dr. Herbert Schumann
Elliot Phillips
Austin Barnes
Sam Groom ...
David Carson
Susan Powell ...
Dr. Laura Green (as Susan Gay Powell)
David Hollander ...
Timmy Carson
Jonathan Segal ...

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A young boy who has run away from a home for mentally handicapped children is found dead. When Quincy performs the autopsy, however, he can find no medical reason for the boy being labeled mentally handicapped. He consults with an expert who suggests the boy may have been autistic instead. Quincy learns of another boy who is about to be committed to the same institution who may also be autistic, and fights to have him properly diagnosed before time runs out to get him into a proper school instead. Written by TychaBrahe

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Drama | Mystery | Crime




Release Date:

19 October 1978 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Heartbreaking, enlightening and poignant
12 September 2015 | by See all my reviews

A Test for Living begins with Lt. Monahan (Garry Walberg) leading a team of police officers searching a hillside for a missing boy who has disappeared from a nearby home for the mentally handicapped. The boy is found dead in a drainage ditch, and Quincy (Jack Klugman) later conducts the autopsy at the coroner lab. Quincy determines that the boy did in fact die from drowning but after further examining his brain, he cannot determine why the boy was diagnosed as mentally impaired. After consulting further with colleagues, Quincy learns that many children with Autism have been misdiagnosed in this manner due to lack of awareness and the rigid testing procedures being administered. Quincy becomes especially concerned over the case of a young boy named Timmy and is determined to make sure that the boy is diagnosed correctly so that he may enroll in a special school program designed for Autistic children.

While I usually tend to favor the murder mystery Quincy episodes over the ones that highlight a social cause, I have to say that this is a very powerful and enlightening episode that moved me. Although there have been great strides in Autism awareness and treatment since this episode first aired in the late 70s, I have to imagine that there was still a great deal of confusion back then which makes the telling of this story so important. Who knows, of the millions of people that watched this episode maybe it motivated some to take their children to see another specialist or seek out a second opinion when they thought there were no other options available. If it helped one child to be reexamined and diagnosed properly, then it was absolutely worthwhile.

As a friend of parents of a special needs child, I found the scenes featuring Timmy to be portrayed in a very realistic manner. Kudos to David Hollander and the rest of the cast for their competent handling of such sensitive material.

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