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Autistic Michigan boy secretly wears school mascot costume to connect with classmates

Andrese Duke dresses as Victor E. Bobcat at Grand Blanc West Middle School.
By Evan Bleier   |   June 12, 2014 at 1:28 PM   |   Comments

GRAND BLANC, Mich., June 12 (UPI) -- An autistic Michigan boy has come up with a way of connecting with his classmates without them even being aware of it.

Andrese Duke dresses as Grand Blanc West Middle School mascot Victor E. Bobcat to interact with students and staff members in a way that lets him feel comfortable.

The seventh-grader has been donning the suit for about five months and it has seemed to help him in a number of areas at school.

"This has impacted his confidence and increased his social ability in the classroom with students," special education teacher Raymond Haden told MLive.

The 13-year-old hasn't looked back since he was given the chance to put on the suit because the eighth-grader who used to have the job was absent. "He was overjoyed to say the least," Haden said.

Duke's mother is delighted with the way her son has handled the responsibility of manning the mascot costume.

"It gave him a purpose. He's always loved school, but it gave him somewhat of a purpose and responsibility. He took it so serious, like it was his job," said Adrian Duke. "This is really something big. He's such a special little boy."

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