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Dad steps up and takes daughter with autism to prom

Thomas Perl

There’s nothing like a great father who saves the day.

Going to prom is the highlight in many young girls’ lives. It can also be a bit nerve-racking, since finding the perfect prom date is not always easy. This was the case for 17-year-old Tori Perl who was diagnosed with autism when she was in seventh grade.

The result of her diagnosis means that the teen is actually like “a 13-year-old living in a 17-year-old girl’s body,” according to her father Thomas in a report for Yahoo, meaning she is happier playing with her dolls and video games than trying to find a date — something her father jokes he’s pretty relieved about. So the idea of going to prom was far from the family’s mind.

But when a family friend said she had a spare prom dress, Tori’s parents were determined to make sure their daughter had the whole prom experience, something she could remember for the rest of her life. Her mom Anna reached out to three fellow seniors in her daughter’s class at Batavia High School in New York to be Tori’s prom escort. The first two turned down the offer so all hopes were pinned on the final senior. But then Thomas did what dads do best: he stepped up and saved the day.

Realizing his daughter may not have an escort, the 50-year-old offered to take his daughter to the prom himself. And Tori, who’s very close to her dad, was thrilled with the suggestion. Thankfully her school made an exception to their rule of no prom dates over 20, allowing Thomas to accompany her.

In true father-daughter style, Thomas went along to all the pre-prom appointments: taking photos at the flower shop when she got her corsage, and watching her get her hair done for the big occasion.

What makes the event even sweeter is that Thomas never went to prom himself, so this was to be a first for him, too. Making sure he looked the part, he pulled his 10-year-old tuxedo out of his closet and with the help of his wife, they even fashioned a pink pocket square out of copy paper to match his daughter’s outfit.

When the father-daughter team arrived at the prom there were a few reactions, with people asking, “Who is the old guy walking in with Tori?” Thomas recollects. However, they were also quick to tell Tori she looked beautiful. With a stride in her step, Tori and her dad danced to “Confident” by Demi Lavato, snacked on Munchies, and took a few obligatory pics in the photo booth.

However, the night wasn’t quite complete. To end the night in style, Thomas took his daughter to Denny’s for an ice cream, a truly heart-melting experience.

Thomas hopes this experience “can change the world,” adding “There’s nothing that can stop these kids from doing what they want to do.” And with loving and supportive parents like the Perls, we’re sure that Tori will fulfill many other dreams.


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