Tenn. teen with autism takes older sister to prom, turned away at door

Courtesy: Jessica Helling

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Senior prom is supposed to be a happy rite of passage for high school students, but a Montgomery County dad says his special needs son’s prom turned into a nightmare.

D.J. Cricket told News 2 his 19-year-old son with autism, Jayce Whisenhunt, did not have a prom date, so he asked his older sister to go with him.

The brother and sister were looking forward to the special day.

“I was really excited and I was getting all ready. I couldn’t wait to go,” Jayce told News 2. “I asked her because I don’t have anybody else for a friend, nobody else to hang out with. I don’t got nobody else I know from school.”

Jessica Helling, his siter, said, “Tears of joy filled my eyes because I was so honored for him to ask me.”

But when they arrived at Montgomery Central High School’s prom, Cricket says his daughter was turned away because she was too old.

Jessica is 24 years old and is a graduate of the high school. She says she never dreamed going to prom with her special needs brother would be a problem, but she was stopped at the door and told no one older than 20 was allowed to attend.
Jayce told News 2 he did not want to stay at the prom without his sister, so he left.

Jessica said the moment was emotional, saying, “It was heartbreaking. It took everything for me not to start crying because he had looked so forward to it.”

The boy’s father was outraged by the situation and took to social media to express his frustration.

“He had nobody to invite to the prom because he has no friends,” Crickett said. “They should make a rule for special needs kids.”

He added, “Every kid deserves to go to their prom and for them to be so excited and dressed up to the max and then to be sent away.”

Crickett has gained tremendous support and one woman has even volunteered to organize a special prom just for Jayce next month.

News 2 reached out to Montgomery County Schools. The district confirmed the age limit for prom guests is 20 years old and each guest must be approved ahead of time.

A spokesperson said a copy of the rules was sent home with students before the prom.

However, the family says Jayce did not receive a copy of the rules and they were unaware of the age limit.

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