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Sensory Friendly Movies

Going to the movies is an activity that many families enjoy together but if someone in the family suffers from Autism or another sensory disorder going to the movies is not an activity that has been enjoyed by all. Either no one goes, only some of the family attends, making others feel left out, or everyone attends and the overwhelming sensory input can put the sensory sufferer into overload or melt down.


With summer break right around the corner for many of our schools across the country it it nice to know that some movie theatres have made this outing more friendly for all. Marcus Theaters and AMC have seen the need for sensory friendly films and are now monthly providing this as as option for those with sensory difficulties. A sensory friendly film has the sound down, the lights up and movement, singing, talking are all allowed.


Marcus Theatres calls the program REEL Movies for Real Needs. Marcus offers this weekly. The 1st Saturday of the month is a first run movie. Movies are shown at 10:30 am and are available in Appleton, Ashwaubenon, Madison, Mequon, New Berlin, and Oak Creek in Wisconsin. Contact information can be found on the website or by calling 1-800-274-0099 x1.


AMC also offers Sensory Friendly films and partners with the Autism Society. AMC shows Family friendly films on the 2nd and 4th Saturday as a matinee and the 2nd and 4th Tuesday for more mature audiences. Desert Star, Fitchburg, Mayfair, and Star Johnson Creek all offer this in Wisconsin. Check the website for more details and the current sensory friendly film that is being shown.


If your family is unable to attend a sensory friendly film and have an individual who suffers from sensory input you can try ear plugs. The plugs sold in the local drugstore or discount store work well. Attend the earliest showing of the movie. This usually means a show that is before noon. Waiting until the movie has been out a few weeks also helps. I have a grown son with Autism and using these techniques we were able to go to the movies a few times a year. As with all children who suffer from a disability, prep your child for what to expect and as the parent pack a lot of patience, understanding, and those items that you have learned work for calming your distraught child. In my case that is an iPad. Your child may have another technique. Let us all treasure our special gifts from God and go to the movies.


Darnell Anthony

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