Friendship blooms for child with disabilities at school dance - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Friendship blooms for child with disabilities at school dance

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Jacob Cummings Jacob Cummings
Layla Thomas Layla Thomas

A middle school dance in tiny Waverly, TN, is getting attention from all over the state and beyond. Something extraordinary happened at the dance that caught one mom off-guard.

You see, she absolutely never thought her son would do something as simple as go to a school dance with a pretty girl.

But what seems like a big deal to adults was nothing more than the kindness and compassion of a childhood friend.

Jacob Cummings has both Down syndrome and autism. It is not an easy road. In fact, his parents dreaded sending him to middle school.

"We were scared. It is a trying time for children. They're finding out who they are. They're noticing differences. There's a lot of stereotype to keep up with. And Jacob doesn't fit the bill," said his mother, Amy Cummings.

What they couldn't possibly account for was Layla Thomas. Layla loves Jacob, and Jacob loves Layla.

So when it was time for the fifth grade Valentine's dance, Layla didn't hesitate.

"I know he really likes to dance, and he's my best friend in the world. I wanted to bring him. I was just worried that somebody was going to get to him before I did," Layla said.

Nevertheless, it surprised Jacob's mom.

She has been dedicated to making sure her son feels included, and even expects it. But she did not expect this.

"I never thought he would go to a dance. So when he did, it was the most normal thing that he's ever done. He was defying the disability, and he was overcoming it. And he was just a regular boy going to a dance with a beautiful girl," Amy Cummings said.

Jacob is outgoing and has never met a stranger. But there is no one who makes his face light up like Layla Thomas.

Layla has such a heart at an age when so many kids are only thinking of themselves. It's no wonder this dance invitation has people gushing.

"We are completely humbled by all of the amazing things that people have said," said Layla's mother, April Thomas.

The little boy they call the family changer made everything different and everyone better. As for the little girl who surprised everyone, talk about leading a life of influence at an early age.

"Layla is just perfection. She has the biggest heart of a child that I've ever seen," Amy Cummings said.

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