LORAIN — The black and white tuxedos hung in the kitchen for days, waiting for just the moment when they could be worn Saturday.
Prom is a rite of passage that many teenagers enjoy each year. For the first time, high school students at Lorain’s Spectrum Resource Center and School danced the night away. The small school has students in preschool through adulthood who have been diagnosed along the autism spectrum.
It was a night to remember for Avon twins Dominic and Antonio DeAngelis.
They are not very verbal, said their mother, Linda Poprocki-Jake. “But they know something fun is planned,” she said. “I’m excited for them. They love to dance.”
The twins were born with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, a rare condition when the blood supply of one twin is passed to the other during pregnancy. They were not expected to survive, but miraculously did, said their mother. Two years later, they were diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
“But it was OK, because we could deal with that and they were walking and talking,” Poprocki-Jake said. “Then, at 4, came the autism diagnosis. That was the hardest, because it really was a life-changing diagnosis. It took away their social ability.”
A prom night for her sons is something Poprocki-Jake said she never imagined would happen.
Now that it arrived, she couldn’t wait for the moment they walked the red carpet with their date, Kayla Brochu, on their arms.
Brochu, 18, of Avon Lake, is a longtime family friend who said she would be the twins’ date if they ever got to prom. Ten years later, she skipped her own prom and headed to theirs.
“They are my friends. They may not be able to communicate with you, but to me, I just see two normal people,” she said.
Poprocki-Jake said about 40 students and their guests were to attend Saturday’s dance, complete with sit-down dinner and DJ.
The school also made it a parent-free zone. They were allowed to take pictures along the red carpet for 30 minutes, and then the doors shut.
“That’s going to be so hard for me. I want to be there to capture their moment,” Poprocki-Jake said. “But as a mother, I know I have to let go and let them have some independence.”
This will be the twins’ last year at Spectrum. They will enter the adult program at Murray Ridge.