One theater in Massachusetts recently began hosting sensory-friendly screenings of movies for children with special needs. The families who attend these showings do not typically have a chance to see movies in theaters because some children have trouble sitting still and others experience sensory overload.
During a sensory-friendly screening at Chunky’s Cinema Pub, the lights remain on, the sound is kept low, and children are able to run around and talk during the movie.
A mother of a 14-year-old girl with autism in Hemet, CA, told the North County Times that, “We were worried she’d make too much noise. She does a lot of vocal stimming.” But thanks to the Autism Movie Day at Temeku Cinemas in Temecula, CA, “We just felt like we weren’t being judged. It was very comfortable.”
Kevin Casey, the general manager of this particular Temeku Cinema, said that the idea came from a local resident who is the mother of two teenage sons with autism. Laurie Rathbun helped to launch the Autism Movie Day program a little over a year ago. Today, families who attend these special screenings enjoy discounted ticket prices, family-friendly films shown without previews, lowered sound and dimmed lights. Parents are also welcome to bring their own food, though the concession stand remains open as well.
National chain AMC Theaters also brings sensory friendly films once a month to families with children who are autistic. For a list of participating theaters and upcoming showings, go here.
As Rathbun told the North County Times, “[Parents] can just relax and enjoy the movie together as a family and not worry about their children’s behavior disturbing other people. Everybody understands what everybody else is going through.”
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