Student with autism becomes school mascot and boosts confidence

A Michigan 7th grader has found a unique way of building a connection with his peers – dressing as the school mascot. Andrese Duke, who has autism, has struggled with self-confidence issues in the past. Yet taking on the duties of the mascot, which includes entertaining and interacting with students during pep assemblies, has given Duke a long-desired boost in self-esteem. According to Raymond Haden, a special education teacher who’s worked with Duke, taking on the mascot suit has “impacted his confidence and increased his social ability in the classroom with the students.” Watch the video below and read the MLive.com article for more about Duke’s experiences being the school mascot.

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Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.