A few months ago I discovered that AMC had Sensory Friendly movies for autistic children. I had never taken my son to the indoor movie theaters. We had been to the Drive-In movies which allow him the freedom to move around and make noise and he always managed to get a look at the projector room while we are there.
The regular theater where people get upset if you whisper though I had never had the courage to take him there. He can't watch a tv show without getting up and moving around the room flapping his wings. So when I found that AMC had this type of movie I was excited.
Though my excitement was short lived. There were no movies near us that participated in the program. So I called our local AMC theater. I posted to my mommy groups to have people call the theater to encourage their participation in the program. I emailed my friends and family to encourage them to do the same. I emailed AMC and I even emailed the local theater to try to get them to participate in it. I did all I could to try to get the program here. Then this week I found out that they finally introduced the program in our area.
According to the Autism Society webpage for the sensory friendly films, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and ASA have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other disabilities a special opportunity to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment on a monthly basis with the "Sensory Friendly Films" program.
In order to provide a more accepting and comfortable setting for this unique audience, the movie auditoriums will have their lights brought up and the sound turned down, families will be able to bring in their own gluten-free, casein-free snacks, and no previews or advertisements will be shown before the movie. Additionally, audience members are welcome to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing — in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced unless the safety of the audience is questioned.
Today my son and I walked in the theater and bought our tickets for UP. He wanted popcorn and pop, so I of course caved and spent the obscene amount of money for the traditional movie snacks. He was skipping next to me and flapping his arms because he was so excited. This was special Mommy and son time and he knew it. He was so excited he almost went into the wrong theater.
We found the theater and I was pleased to see a fair amount of people in it. We sat in seats near the front of the theater and waited for the movie to begin. We chatted with the family behind us. Like us it was the first time she was able to take her son to the movies and they were so excited that they now could.
The move started and the lights stayed on, the sound wasn't deafening, the air conditioner wasn't even making it as cold as it usually is. The best part was it wasn't abnormally quiet. I actually found the noise from the audience pleasant to listen to while the movie was playing. It made it feel more homey. P at first couldn't care less about the movie. He turned around watched where the movie was coming from.
Half way through the movie a little boy came rolling down the aisle to the front of the theater and got up to do it again. Other children were starting to roam around and walk up to the screen. They were not in the way and they would look straight up at the base of the screen. Of course my son eventually joined in. He would pace back and forth between us and the screen flapping his wings and just as happy as he could be.
Finally he got the courage to ask me if he could walk to the back of the theater to stand below the projection booth. He was comparing the views I think. He would watch from the back, from our seat and then right at the base of the screen. He would never be able to do this while going to a regular movie screening.
I had a huge smile on my face because I could tell how happy he was. I would go between watching the movie, which was a pretty good movie, to watching him. I loved that he was enjoying himself at the movies and when I told him that Ice Age was playing next month and we could go back he was even more excited.
On the way out of the theater we ran into the manager and thank him for having the sensory friendly films. I don't know if my phone calls or emails had anything to do with the program coming here, so I will just think they did. Once a month P and I will have a date to go to the movies and lunch, our special time together.