Sensory-friendly films for everyone

July 9, 2009 10:11:46 AM PDT
Sensory-friendly films enables families who have children with sensory challenges to enjoy movies in the theater. It's relatively a new concept that is getting great reviews. Sensory-friendly films is not about what films are chosen. It's about the atmosphere. Many children, especially those with autism, need to be in a "no pressure environment".

"Bolt", " Monsters Versus Aliens" and " Back To The Future" are some of Eric Smith's sons' favorite movies.. Evan is 16 and Dillion is 14. Both boys are autistic.

"They love the movies, but the sounds is just so overwhelming they'll cover their ears, hide their eyes crawl under a coat, anything to take some of those sensory issues away," said Smith.

Last year was the first time Eric could take his boys to the movie theater, thanks to a partnership between AMC Theaters and Autism Society of America. They have a monthly sensory-friendly film day. The atmosphere is adapted for kids with autism and other sensory disabilities.

"What they do is they maybe lower the sound level a little bit and they raise the lights a little bit and it's just enough for the calming influence for the kids, so they don't get overwhelmed by the dark and by the loudness that they movie brings," Smith said.

"They also will cut out previews, they will go straight to the movie, because the kids have, some have a hard time waiting for the movies to get started."

Another issue is food. On sensory-friendly film day, families can bring their own.

"There's a number of different diets that people have found useful for treating autism, the most popular is gluten-casein-free diet," said Smith. "Often what you have with people with autism, they have to leave their special needs child at home, because they can't handle the loudness or the darkness, so this gets the whole family out and it's good."

And Dillion agrees.

"Not too much noise and not too much darkness," Dillion said.

www.autism-society.org

www.autismillinois.org

www.rallyforautism.com

www.amctheatres.com/community

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