A few years ago my family tried to watch Ant-Man together and it was a disaster. We hadn’t taken our Autistic son to the movies in such a long time that we didn’t realize he wouldn’t like them anymore. (He is seven now, and his last movie visit was when he was still a toddler.)
We left the theater for a quick drink refill, and upon walking back in he started covering his ears. Next, he refused to go back to our seats. I tried to distract him with popcorn but my teenagers had already polished it off without telling me — we spent the rest of the evening in the lobby waiting for our big kids to finish the film.
While we waited things got even worse as the theater attendant started setting up new movie lines. These new lines were blocking us into the bench we were sitting on and my son started screaming frantically. Another attendant noticed what was going on and asked if he had sensory overload in the movie. After I told her about his difficulties in the theater she asked her employer to provide us with “Re-Admit” tickets. These tickets are good for any show, and can be used at any time. They also told us that they are now offering “Sensory Friendly” show times. Sensory friendly movies are shown with the lights still partly on and the volume turned down to a more manageable level. Outburst are also permitted — you are not required to remove your child from the theater if one occurs. I thought this was such a great thing that I had to share them with you. Have you attended a sensory friendly showing before? Check out these great theaters that offer sensory friendly events for Autistic viewers and those with SPD:
Want to see a movie with your child in the theater? If you aren’t sure about your local theater, call and ask. If they don’t offer Sensory Friendly Films, bond together with your local SPD and/or Autism Support Group to coordinate a showing. Offering enough pre-sale tickets for a private showing will allow you to make the request for lower volume and more lighting easier.
NOTE: Many theaters also have headphones available for those with hearing difficulties but they don’t advertise it. Try the headphones and see if that works too!
When was the last time your family watched a movie in the theater?