If you have been following social media over recent months, you may have noticed several videos and stories surfacing of special needs kids going to Prom, being invited to Prom and being crowned Prom King and Queen. As this is becoming increasingly normal, how can parents help with making their kids’ Prom a special and enjoyable occasion? We reached out to parents of special needs kids who have been to Prom to ask their advice. This is what they said.
Your child senses your feelings very strongly and if you are worried about Prom then your child will be worried as well. See it as an exciting opportunity and your child will too. Treat Prom as a normal event and your son or daughter will have no reason to be anxious. The last thing you want to do is unwittingly transfer anxiety. It is understandable that you may feel nervous about your child fitting in, but the chances are it will all go fine and your child will have a good time.
Are there teachers or support staff on hand at the Prom to assist in case of anxiety or distress? Phone up the school and ask. Make sure there are adequate provisions should your child need help. Is your child’s date neurotypical, and if so does that person understand your child’s requirements? Does the couple require a chaperone?
No Prom is complete without loud music. If your child is uncomfortable with loud music, then prepare them ahead of time for what to expect. Let them know they can move away and take a break from it. Identify areas where they can take a timeout and relax. Perhaps arrange for somebody to assist them with this.
If your child has sensory issues, then the flashing lights typical at Proms can be very distressing. Let your child know they remove themselves at any time, and again, having somebody to assist them away from the lights can be useful.
Make sure that you, your child’s date, chaperone or other person is on hand to safely drop off the couple at the prom and pick them up when it’s over. A familiar face ready to pick up your child when the event is over is a good idea to calm any potential anxiety.
There is lots of pressure at this age that you have to have a date for prom. This adds unnecessary stress to any child and even more when a child with special needs suffers from anxiety. Make sure your child understands that Prom isn’t about just having a date but a celebration with your piers for finishing your studies. If possible arrange to go in a group…it’s a lot more fun and memorable!
A Shift in Attitudes – Making Proms Normal
A few years ago, special needs kids being invited to prom, or a special needs couple being crowned as Prom King and Queen may have seemed unlikely. But times are changing and non-neuro typical kids are attending Proms, having their own special needs Proms and engaging in a range of regular school activities. There is still some way to go, but it is becoming normal. What is perceived as normal starts at home – if you consider it a regular activity, then it becomes a normal, regular activity.
Are your kids attending Prom this year? Have they already attended one? Then let us know how it went and share some insight for other parents.
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