Autism Prom Night to give those on the spectrum their night to shine
If a child is the light of a parent’s world, then that’s exactly what Kristin Selby Gonzalez is trying to be for her son and others like him.
Selby Gonzalez, who grew up in Fountain Valley, has a son named Jaxson who has moderate to severe autism spectrum disorder.
When she showed up at the Fountain Valley City Council meeting on May 3, Selby Gonzalez came to bring the community’s attention to a unique event being held in town at the end of July.
Autism Prom Night will be hosted by the Fount Church, a social gathering aimed at providing normalcy and opportunity for families who may not have had that opportunity, due to special circumstances.
Jaxson, 20, never attended public school, missing out on moments cherished by families lucky enough to attend.
“A Night to Radiate” serves as the perfect theme for the event, as Jaxson and others like him will be able to dance the night away in an environment that understands their unique needs.
“We want these people with autism spectrum disorders to feel like they can be themselves and enjoy their night,” Selby Gonzalez said. “An added bonus, more like the icing on the cake, is the experience of families watching their loved ones experience it.”
The dance will take place from 6-8:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 30 and will be open to those ages 13 and up and on the spectrum. Formal dress is not required and tickets are free for families. It will be held on the church campus at 18225 Bushard St., Fountain Valley.
The sanctuary will be the setting for the ball, which will feature a DJ, photo booth station, photographer and snacks for attendees. Selby Gonzalez anticipates up to 20 people with ASD will attend, and it’s also open to their families and friends.
Selby Gonzalez said giving time as a volunteer can be an important way for the community to show they care. Those interested in volunteering can visit radiatepossibilitycamp.org, which is also the website for event registration.
“It doesn’t always have to be your checkbook,” she added. “A lot of times it can be your time, and I think what’s so overlooked in the community is that time is precious, and time is priceless. I really think getting them to volunteer their time is going to make the community grow, improve, and really, that’s where the inclusion happens.
As an elementary special education teacher, Ric Seaver has witnessed the struggle that children with this disorder face in social situations, sometimes even sheltered from harm by their own families. He has long been motivated to make the church an understanding and welcoming place for people on the spectrum.
Although he said he didn’t attend his own prom, Seaver said the upcoming event is making progress toward that goal.
“I understand how important and important it is to have it, especially for families who want their child to dress up in a tuxedo and show up for prom,” said Seaver, family and children’s ministry director at the Fount church. “It’s kind of the parents’ hopes and dreams.”
Pastor Glen Haworth, who has held the post at the church since July 2014, said the special ball will represent another step in a scheme of assistance to members of the underserved community. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, he said the church would hold “Welcome Home” events, offering food ministry on Saturday mornings. These events would include hot breakfast, showers, laundry services, clothing and haircuts.
The church is taking another step to help people on the spectrum become part of their community, as Haworth said it is in the process of outfitting one of its halls into a sensory room, which can be a therapeutic space for people with special needs.
As for the July prom, Haworth, who has a son with high-functioning autism, hopes many will want to attend.
“We hope to spread the word to other families in the community who have older children and adults who are on the spectrum and who would be looking for a way to socialize, just to celebrate who they are and what they have achieved in their life. lives,” Haworth said.
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