Proms are special events, and they raise many questions for the teens involved about dates, clothing, venue, music, etc. Mix in obstacles such as social anxiety, medical issues, financial deficits, minimal family supports, or sensory sensitivities, and these questions are even more important.
The Webster House Medically Complex Group Home had four teens attend prom while navigating all of these important questions, and they handled the experience with grace, poise, and the best of their coping abilities. It was a positive experience for everyone, including the adults who love and care for them. Three of our young men attended the Raymond Hill School prom on May 13th, while one of our young ladies attended her New Britain High School prom on May 20th. Ensuring that each student’s prom experience was special and magical was the number one goal, requiring various individualized interventions.
One of our youth perseverated on the wardrobe selection and whether or not he would be comfortable wearing a shirt, tie, and dress pants due to various reasons including sensory sensitivities. At one point he insisted that he would be more comfortable in basketball shorts and that he assumed his date would not mind. With the help of three Webster House maternal figures, whom he joked were “nagging and fussing over him,” he was able to select a formal but comfortable outfit that matched his date’s dress and yet still allowed him to bring down the house with his dance moves.
Another young man who was conscious of his budgeted prom attire allowance was able to thrift shop with the assistance of one of our male staff. He purchased a shirt, pants, shoes, jacket, and tie on a budget, and ended up winning the award for “Best Dressed” at the prom! He looked especially elegant with his single white rose boutonniere.
Yet another young man, who also struggles with sensory sensitivities, insisted on buying a belt and tie despite staff advising him that he might not feel comfortable wearing those items. On the day of the prom, he almost refused to attend because he did not feel comfortable in his outfit. Not everyone can wear a tie! Yet with patience and support, another maternal figure jumped in to help him sort out which parts of his new wardrobe he would be comfortable wearing, and he was able to collect himself and attend the prom sans tie, boutonniere, and belt, but sporting a proud smile. In addition, due to his struggles with his wardrobe, he was late getting his insulin and the Webster House nurse made accommodations so that he could get his insulin and get to the prom as quickly as possible to avoid further stress in regards to missing the special meal.
Our young lady was so pleased the day she came home to tell us she had been asked to prom by a shy young man who attended school with her. Her therapist took her shopping for a beautiful dress, which she loved. Arrangements were made for hair, nails, and makeup to be done and she was picture perfect as she waited for her date. Her mom stopped by to help her get ready and to take some pictures. Anxiety set in as he was an hour late picking her up from the Webster House. Mom had to leave, but maternal support and comfort from staff was there during this excruciating wait time. Our young lady utilized her coping skills to remain calm, and when her date finally arrived, he was anxious and shy and she was calm and patient. We took the time to capture all the traditional pictures of the corsage and boutonniere exchange, and watched her depart with tears in our eyes, happy for her and proud of her for remaining calm and kind with a date who was obviously struggling.
A permanent home in a loving and caring family environment is the best-case scenario for a child, and I hope that all of our kids have that when they leave us. But while they live at Webster House, we are glad to love and care for them as parent figures. The staff shared a proud parenting moment this month as we watched four of our teens attend their high school proms.
Webster House Program Coordinator