Movie Magic for Autistic Audiences

movie screenings for autism

Through the teamwork of Canadian autism advocates and Cineplex Entertainment, a whole new world of entertainment has been opened up to children with ASD. They’ve begun screening films every 4-6 weeks specifically aimed at reducing the situational anxiety brought on by the rushing crowds and loud sounds that movie theatres often provoke.

During these screenings, Cineplex has decided to target autistic audiences and alleviate their discomfort by leaving lights on during the show, turning down the volume, and providing break rooms for children agitated by overstimulation. The staff even turns down the volume of music in the lobby. Doing so has opened up a world for many autistic children who previously had never experienced the wonder of the movie theatre experience; some of these children have never set foot into a cinema before.

Where movie theatres were once a daunting task for parents of children with autism, they now are havens in which their children can experience their peers’ enjoyment of the film industry. Furthermore, they’ve become places of support and encouragement as these parents convene to provide their children with these experiences.

“It’s so exciting to see big corporations accepting families with kids with autism and recognizing how important this is,” Terri Duncan, executive director of Children’s Autism Services of Edmonton, told the Edmonton Journal. “Recognizing that giving these families the same access as other families is an important thing.”

Currently, these “Sensory Friendly Screenings” only occur at select theatres in Canada; however, Cineplex hopes to expand and inspire other corporations to provide the same services.

By Sara Power, Fordham University

Read out the original article here.

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