Top hat and tails

Off to the prom

Last year, when we took Clay to the prom held by a local autism group things went more smoothly then we ever would have dreamed – especially since he had been up almost the entire night before. This past Friday, he had a full night’s sleep, so we expected more of the same.

The night started, much like last year — getting the little guy dressed in his formal attire. An act that requires a magician’s timing (too soon and he will be completely undressed before we go, too late and we risk a meltdown from rushing), a race car driver’s reflexes (every try tying a tie on someone who is moving?) and the patience of a yogi (’nuff said). We have none of those, but managed nonetheless.

The suit he wore last year turned out to be too small, as did the shirt. So, we moved to plan B, squeezing the not-so-little-anymore-guy into one of my lesser-used suits and an old shirt and shoes. We found a matching tie I was willing to sacrifice (which sure enough sported a big ketchup stain by the end of the night.)

The dog thinks he is helping

A little mousse in his newly cut hair and, voila, we were ready to rumble.

All dressed up with someplace to go

Let’s get moving

After signing in …

In line to register

… a quick photo with Clay’s teacher (right) and last year’s aide …

Hey teach

… and pinning on a buttonniere …

Fancy fancy

… it was time for the official photo.

Waiting patiently for our turn

Say cheese

Enough already

So far, so good, but then we hit a rough patch. Just as we sat down to grab some grub …

Putting the feedbag on

It was time to get up for another photo session — this time with Clay’s teacher and his classmates. Clay had his mind locked in on pasta, french fries, rolls and ginger ale, and was not overly thrilled to be interrupted by a modeling session with his buddies.

Gathering the troops

Still gathering

Everybody ready?

Where are you going?

Talking to the hand

By the time everyone was standing still and looking at the camera, an operation similar to herding hamsters, Clay clearly had had enough. It was time for a walk outside, away from the blaring techno music.

What did he think so far?

“so stressed so stimmy,” he typed.

After some outside quiet time, we went back in to eat, followed by several circles of the increasingly crowded and noisy dance floor …

Celebrate good times, come on

… and a little more typing.

Whadda ya think?

Following two trips to the Men’s Room (where the whole outfit came off and had to be put back on both times) and the gobbling of a soft pretzel pilfered from someone else’s plate, the jacket was off and it was clearly time to head home.

Where’s the door?

We lasted over an hour-and-a-half. An impressive achievement.

Was the night a success? Well, let’s say this. The next morning, we had to cut his horseback riding lesson short because he kept falling asleep in the saddle. The sign of a good night.

Nap riding

On Sunday, Mom cornered him in the car with the keyboard for some thoughts about this year’s prom.

“so sorry we were stimmy   sad awetism gets in the way”

“You told [typing teacher] Lisa Romaine it was cool to be different.”

“so true but sometimes we are sad about awetism. stay strong.”

“You stay strong, too,” Mom typed back. “We will find a way to use your autism to your advantage. Dad and I are lucky to have you as our son, Clay.”


As long as the little guy is willing to keep trying to stretch for these kinds of events, so are we. Next year, here we come.


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  1. #1 by Karen Velocci on May 22, 2012 - 8:34 am

    So great Larry; it was awesome to be with you guys!

  2. #2 by merle holman on May 22, 2012 - 10:49 am

    Good for Clay (and both of you) to have reached this place…..he looked so handsome!!

  3. #3 by Love Many Trust Few on May 22, 2012 - 1:41 pm

    Massive effort! So important to participate in these rituals despite their challenges.

  4. #4 by Grandpa tony on May 22, 2012 - 2:55 pm

    Good job, Clay.
    An even better job, Larry.

  5. #5 by Mary Beth Schelinski on May 22, 2012 - 10:47 pm

    half the fun of prom is getting dressed anyway……Clay just sticks with the parts he likes!

  6. #6 by autismmommytherapist on May 23, 2012 - 11:10 am

    As the mom of two on the spectrum I am struck by all of the progress Clay has made, the little steps toward a more independent life that he’s made since I began reading this blog. Bravo to Clay, and to his parents too!

  1. Dancing King | Life With Clay

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