Mom whose son, 15, is non-verbal autistic insists on dressing him well

Mother whose son, 15, is non-verbal autistic insists on dressing him in designer clothes to boost his self-esteem – and says her family is to be ‘envied not pitied’ because he’s taught them ‘pure love’

  • Geege Dudley’s son Pootie was diagnosed with severe autism as a toddler
  • Now 16, Pootie, from Athens, Georgia, cannot speak and struggles cognitively 
  • But Geege, 51, revealed how she works hard to give her son a normal life 
  • She pays special attention to dressing Pootie well to boost his self-esteem 

A mother whose son is severely autistic revealed how she has worked hard to see the positives in his condition. 

Geege Dudley, 51, of Athens, Georgia, is mother to Pootie, who was diagnosed with autism as a toddler. 

Now 16, Pootie is non-verbal but still attends school where he receives dedicated one-on-one therapy to help him reach his goals and live life to the fullest. 

Geege, who documents her son’s journey on Instagram and YouTube, explained her family should be ‘envied, not pitied’ because her son has taught her family ‘pure love’.

She also noted the important role clothes play in helping to boost her son’s self-esteem.

Geege Dudley, 51, of Athens, Georgia, is mother to son Pootie, who was diagnosed with autism as a toddler. Pictured, Pootie, now 16, getting ready for filming for their YouTube channel

Geege, pictured with Pootie and her daughter, said she has worked hard to give her son every opportunity possible. She documents the light-hearted side of autism on social media

‘I see a lot of well-dressed mums who walk in with their kid [with special needs] who is in some horrible outfit. Sweat clothes that match, that pull up and pull on. 

‘It’s easy and it’s cheap because these kids may not care about what they are wearing. I was just like “I don’t care, he [Pootie] is not going to go to school with sweat pants everyday just because it’s easier”.’

She continued: ‘It’s important to me because I think it shows that we are so proud of him and he feels so much positive attention and energy from people and I seriously think he thinks he’s famous because of the attention.

‘He gets masses of attention and sticks his hands up for high fives to get people to back off like they’re the paparazzi hounding him.’

Pootie, pictured left and right as a child, was diagnosed with severe autism when he was 18 months old

Mother Geege said she makes sure her son is always well-dressed as it helps boost his self-esteem. Pictured, Pootie looking dapper while playing in the park

She added: ‘He might not understand that “wow I’m in a $400 (£300) cricket jacket” but he gets that everyone around him thinks he looks great and he loves that.’

The same principle applies to his personal grooming and hygiene. 

Geege continued: ‘He could look bad and could be like a lot of special needs kids who have yucky teeth because it’s hard to clean them a lot of the time. But I struggle through it. It’s important to me that he has dignity.’

Pootie was taken for an autism assessment at 18 months and was diagnosed within five minutes.  

‘Most children that age are not getting diagnosed but he was so severe,’ Geege said. ‘And if you’ve got a very severe baby, that’s a strong indicator of things to come.’

Geege made a conscious effort to make sure her son was not limited in experiences because of his condition. Pictured, Pootie poses for a snap with footballers at a game

The smartly-dressed teenager, pictured left and right, enjoys the attention he receives over his wardrobe. His mother told how he will ‘high five’ people when they surround him

The mother, who also has a daughter, started to watch TV shows about other families with autistic children but quickly found herself becoming depressed with their view on the condition. 

She continued: ‘It was always pitiful, it was always like parents who were beat up, exhausted, who were like, “oh we don’t have any quality of life”, and, “this is too hard”, and, “all we do is go to therapy and to the doctors”.

‘All of that is true, but I really do believe in life that you have to be more positive than that if you want a good outcome.’

The proud mother began focusing on the happiness the condition brings to their lives, describing her son as a ‘big teddy bear’. 

Pootie works with a teacher on his communication skills. Pictured, a friend helps him use a talking device that helps him communicate 

Pootie is part of an after-school swim team and attends swimming camps over summer

She said: ‘I decided in the beginning that I was going to take him with me everywhere that I could because I wanted him to have a normal life, I didn’t want him to be sheltered because it’s too hard. I put my head down and made myself do it.’

Pootie now has lessons with a one-on-one teacher and spends the days working on therapy goals like communicating with a hybrid system – picture exchange, a few signs and gestures – and working on skills for independence like using utensils, dressing, grooming and going to the toilet. 

They also work on regulating his sensory system by having a sensory room both at home and school for swinging and jumping.

The teenager is also part of a swim team and spends the summers at swimming camp.  

Pootie is showered with love from his family, including his proud big sister (left). Pictured right, mother Geege with Pootie and her daughter

: Pootie and Geege with the cast of their YouTube show, Planet Poot

Geege explained she used to ‘worry’ about her son’s future and how he would be dependent on her for life. However now she is ‘so glad’ he will be living with her. 

She added: ‘He’s just like a big teddy bear. I’d be devastated if he left.’

Geege, who has written a book about her life, continued: ‘I know that Pootie will never be a journalist, a doctor, a lawyer, an author, or work for the President of the United States like his parents and grandparents have done. 

‘He has been put on this earth for a far greater cause. He has taught us what pure love is.’

The mother-of-two started a YouTube channel to capture the light-hearted moments of life with a child with autism and said she frequently receives messages from families grateful for the positive representation of the condition.          

Geege highlighted the joy Pootie, pictured left and right, brings to their lives. She described her 16-year-old son as a ‘big teddy bear’

She said: ‘A lot of these kids just feel like they are being a burden to society because they are constantly being told “no”.

‘They’re just living life the way their brains are wired, but so what? Everyone’s lives do not have to follow the same, predictable script. 

Reflecting on her own life, she added: ‘We are not to be pitied; we are to be envied. It breaks my heart that most people never understand this kind of love. 

‘You are way ahead of the game if you have a good mindset because your child will feel your positive energy and thrive.

‘I get how some people aren’t as positive and I understand that. It can be very tough. I just think there needs to be stronger messages of happiness and gratefulness of what autism brings.’

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