The prom, which has virtually helped to change the lives of youngsters in the city who have autism spectrum disorder, was started by the mother of a then-teenaged son with ASD. Rhonda Carlisle initially hadn’t realized that there weren’t enough opportunities for students with autism to enjoy and celebrate the milestone like their mainstream peers did.
However when her son Tom expressed his concerns regarding not being able to attend his prom, she decided to act. Subsequently in 2005, Carlisle held the city’s first prom night for students with exceptional needs with only a handful of students in attendance.
However today, nearly 1000 attend the event and enjoy an evening of live entertainment, formal photo sessions, supper and as well as the opportunity to arrive in style courtesy of a limousine. As a result, it ultimately becomes a night that allows the students to create lasting memories and enjoy the happiness and revelry that the celebration of prom night provides. Renee Wyman, a special needs teacher asserts:
“They are right out there on that dance floor living the music. If you can see that, it will change your life forever and you’ll want to volunteer next year.”
Source: Brody Carter on the Fox 17 West Michigan new site: Prom night for people with disabilities, community helps make dreams come true