Hat’s off to “Sensory Friendly” films

“Sensory Friendly Films”  is a fantastic collaboration between AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society of America.

They put their heads together and came up with a way for ASD families to go to the movies ” in a safe and accepting environment.”  Once a month, this theater chain will offer a showing of a family film “in a more accepting and comfortable setting for this unique audience.”

Lighting and sound will be adjusted, families will be allowed to bring their own snacks and most importantly “audience members are welcome to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing.”  I can tell you with absolute certainty that this venture is going to be a success. So many ASD parents are too wary of their children’s “enthusiasm” to go to the movies. We choose matinees at discount theaters where crowds are likely to be smaller, poorer and hopefully less judgemental. Plus, we sit by the exit with a getaway plan at the ready. I can remember taking Zach to see “Batman” (the first one with Christian Bale) – he was so excited during a scene where Batman tests drives the new Batmobile that he stood and applauded while fellow viewers yelled “sit down.” There were other movie outings (Spiderman 1,2 or 3) when Zach was aggressively shushed by strangers because of his ongoing monologues. I can’t count how many times we simply picked up and left a theater in the middle of a film because his behavior was too distracting for fellow viewers –  or too insulting. He used to comment loudly about bald men in our midst – and the follicly challenged masses never seemed to appreciate his observations. It was better to skeedaddle than get into a debate with someone when asked if I knew that my kid was “really rude.”

With “Sensory Friendly” films, families will be able to enjoy an outing where their child will be free to repeat lines, stand up, sit down, fidget and wiggle to their heart’s content. This is preferable to watching the film from the exit aisle while your son does zigzag laps. Think of the gentle understanding, the freedom from persecuting stares! Why, your dear daughter could eat some stranger’s popcorn and the worst that will happen is their kid will eat yours!

And imagine the stress free potty breaks to the ladies room escorting your son! When you get  “that look,” in the gals-only enclave, just reply confidently, “I’m attending a Sensory Friendly film, thank you very much.”

This month’s film is “Tooth Fairy”  and the sensory friendly version will be shown Feb. 6. You can check for a local theater near you on the ASA website at: http://www.autism-society.org/site/PageServer?pagename=sensoryfilms

Here’s to hoping you have a non-judgemental, incident-free outing!


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