Geege Taylor is a single mom of two from outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Twice divorced, the breast cancer survivor is a fierce advocate for autism. Here, she opens up about why it was so important to put her family — and her son's autism — on reality TV.
When my son, Ains — who we affectionately call “Pootie” — was first diagnosed with autism 17 years ago, there was hardly any talk of autism in the media. Anything that I did see on the news was very depressing. It was all gloom and doom.
I remember seeing two women with their autistic sons being interviewed on television. The mothers only focused on the stressors in their lives, explaining that it was exhausting and depressing raising their children. In the background, their beautiful, healthy sons were joyfully jumping on a trampoline. I remember thinking, “Look behind you! Can’t you see the gifts that God has given you?”
I knew that I couldn’t live like that. I’m not built to focus on negativity. If you wait for all of the stars to be lined up just right until you allow yourself to be happy with your life, you'll be waiting forever.
I’ve always tried to be a positive person, but the script seemed to be already written for my life according to the negative messages in the media that I had seen over and over again. I just couldn’t accept that. After living with autism for a few years, I became drawn to the idea of creating something positive in the media, something that reflected the joy and unique experiences that autism gave my family. I wanted to create something that would educate people about what they didn’t understand, so that they, too, could see life through the beautiful lens that we were privy to.
Of course, there were loads of challenges that my son’s disability presented, but our lives were still balanced and full. Pootie brings things to the table that no one else ever could. He runs sideways, snuggles us 24 hours a day, runs in place for hours in the rain, holds ice cream cones upside down, rides his therapy horse backwards and currently his favorite toy is the cardboard top from a Sara Lee pound cake box. Who else does all of this?
“Beforee having Pootie, I would’ve never guessed that someone with his challenges would be so confident and cocky!”
I discovered for myself Pootie’s life is every bit as valuable as any one else’s, but I still wanted to change the conversation surrounding autism at a broader level.
It’s very easy to judge a situation from the outside. Our show — “Leave It to Geege” — helps demystify the unknown and eradicate prejudices. When watching for the first time, viewers might assume that they’ll be rooting for the “underdog” when they first see my 19-year-old, non-speaking autistic son. But they soon discover that he’s not the underdog. He’s not to be pitied. Rather, he’s someone to be envied.
Before having Pootie, I would've never guessed that someone with his challenges would be so confident and cocky! He looks just like Elvis and is always scented, so he has had more female attention than any man on the planet. When he was in second grade, his teachers had to come up with a plan to keep the girls off of him; they overwhelmed him by hugging him nonstop everyday in the lunchroom. This is when he learned to do a high five. (Again, please have no pity for my son. He’s living a dream and is celebrated for being exactly who he is.)
Our series follows the uncanny adventures of my family (biological and chosen) and features four autistic young adults — one of whom is undergoing the diagnostic process. I surround myself with larger-than-life, entertaining characters. You couldn’t dream up a better group! We’re autistic, neurotypical, feminine, masculine, gay, straight, white, Black, verbal, nonspeaking, young, old, religious and not so religious. If we’ve done our job right, you’ll forget that you’re watching a show about autism, as you’ll begin to see everyone on a level playing field.
With the help of Lifetime and production company World of Wonder, I'm rewriting the script when it comes to autism.
Now more than ever, people are ready to hear stories about marginalized communities and to see more people being celebrated for their differences, not in spite of them. Most of all, I want viewers to walk away from my story feeling educated, entertained and inspired. There’s nothing more boring than being ordinary, and my story, my family, and above all else, my Pootie, is an extraordinary example of this.