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BLACKFOOT â€” Like most mothers of young women, Serrina Slay looks forward to seeing her daughter dressed in a beautiful gown and taken to her high school prom for a wonderful night that she will always remember. However, Slay's only child, Rachael Slay, a non-speaking autistic girl, is in need of a date to the Blackfoot High School Prom and Slay is hoping that a nice, young man will step up to take her special needs daughter to the dance.
"I hope this doesn't come off as distasteful, but I really want my daughter to have the full experience of her senior year at Blackfoot High School," she said. "She has never gone to a school dance or any school function and I would love for her to have this one last opportunity to go to the Blackfoot High School prom on April 19."
Slay said that Rachael, 19, who was born and raised in Blackfoot, was diagnosed with autism when she was just 24 months old after suffering from Kawasaki Disease (an auto-immune disorder) at the age of 6 months.
Although Rachael is unable to communicate verbally, she has learned to communicate through the use of a DynaVok speech device.
"Just because she doesn't speak doesn't mean that she doesn't understand," Slay explained. "She can communicate her needs; she understands what is going on and she is aware when people are talking about her or shunning her."
Slay said that Rachel enjoys looking at books and typing on her computer. She is aware of her appearance and loves dressing up in trendy clothing and fitting in with her peers at school.
"I want people to understand that just because a child has autism doesn't mean that the world doesn't matter to them, it's just a different variation of the world," Slay noted.
Slay said that she and Rachael have been shopping for prom dresses and looking at new hairstyles. Her wish for her daughter is that a young man (around Rachael's age) will take her to the prom and help her to have a good time.
"I will be chaperoning the date," she stressed. "But I would love someone to take her...someone who is not intimidated by her special needs or lack of communication...someone who will take her by the hand and lead her to the dance floor.
I just know that she will have a great time and this could be a wonderful night for two young people."
Slay said that Rachael's future after high school is uncertain and that she hopes that she can someday live in a nice, assisted-living group home with people her own age.
Slay asks that anyone who may be interested in taking Rachael to the prom (or anyone who may have a special needs son who would like to go the prom) contact her in a private message through Facebook (Serrina J Slay; Blackfoot, Idaho).