Detroit nonprofit to host sensory-friendly 'Special Needs Prom'

June 10, 2019, 2:42 PM by  Violet Ikonomova

A student with special needs learning center, Au-Some City 313. (Courtesy photo)

For most kids, prom is a rite of passage: a momentous occasion to close out adolescence. But for special needs kids, many elements of the event — the colorful strobes, the loud music — can make it difficult to enjoy, if not impossible to attend.

But a Detroit nonprofit is hoping to change that.

This Friday, Au-Some City 313 — an inclusive learning center — plans to host the city’s first known special needs prom, a sensory-friendly dance to be chaperoned by trained professionals.

“Everyone’s doing these prom send offs and taking pictures of their kids going to prom, and we want this population to have the same experiences as their peers,” says Alexis Brooks, a behavioral consultant and co-director of the organization. “In Detroit, we’re lacking these opportunities for our special needs and autistic kids. They have these things in Sterling Heights, so we wanted to utilize our resources for our community.”

Alexis Brooks and LaRhonda Tucker, co-directors of Au-Some City 313. (Courtesy photos)

The event is free and open to children of all ages. It’ll be a lot like a regular prom — with dinner, dancing, and decor — but more carefully curated to avoid overstimulation. The music, for example, will be quieter than at a traditional prom, sequined tablecloths will aim to capture kids' attention and encourage them to sit down, and a parent room will be available for those who wish to stay with their kids.

The special needs prom will be held at the Kemeny Recreation Center in Southwest Detroit on Friday at 6 p.m. Tickets are available here.

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