"In the United States, a promenade dance, most commonly called a prom, is a semi-formal (black tie) dance or gathering of high school students. This event is typically held near the end of the senior year (the last year of high school). Proms figure greatly in popular culture and are major events among high school students." - Wikipedia
Parents of neurotypical children are usually keenly aware of the importance of their teen's prom and all the preparations that must be made for the big day. On the other hand, parents of children on the autism spectrum may think of a prom as yet another milestone event that their son or daughter will be unable to experience.
But for many students who attend the May Center School for Autism and Developmental Disabilities in Randolph, going to the prom is a dream that can and does come true. Every student, from age 16 to 22, is invited to the school prom. Families and school and residential staff begin well in advance to help students prepare for the big event.
Although we have been holding proms for many years on our Randolph campus, our 2018 prom was a little different. That’s because The Boston Globe asked to follow two of our students – Sophia and Peter – as they prepared for and then attended the event. Globe videographers Taylor and Emily got to know Sophia and Peter (and their teachers and families) during visits in their classrooms, on the playground, at their homes, and out in the community, filming all the while.
When it came time to get ready for the dance, Taylor was there when Peter and a May staff person shopped for prom clothes at Target. Emily was there when Sophia had a missing front tooth replaced, and when her sisters fixed her hair before the prom. On the big day, both videographers captured Sophia and Peter’s special moments from start to finish.
The result is an extraordinary documentary short titled, “Dance with Me.” This video is not scripted or rehearsed; it an honest, unbiased, unfiltered recording of real and very special moments during one month in Sophia and Peter’s lives. We hope the journey portrayed in this documentary moves you as it has moved all of those involved in its creation.
View documentary here.
Special thanks go to:
The Boston Globe. “Dance with Me” was months in the making, and we felt from the beginning that The Boston Globe understood and respected the sensitivity of such a project. These were real lives and real families who shared the love they had for their children and the realities associated with raising a child with significant special needs.
The staff at the May Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities. You made it possible to shadow your work in the classrooms, community-based residences for students, and out in the community. You allowed us to film while staff and kids lived out their lives.
Peter and Sophia’s parents. You opened doors to us. Boston Globe staff visited your homes, spent time with you, and interviewed you extensively. You understood and appreciated the goals here – to share challenges, triumphs, and realities of daily life, and of special moments like the prom.