Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sensory Friendly Films: What They're Like

Have you ever wanted to go to AMC Entertainment and the Autism Society's sensory-friendly films but didn't know what to expect? AutMont's close friend A Lettered Woman went to the most recent showing and reported back on how the experience went for her.

Have you been? What did you think? Leave your own experiences and suggestions for attending in the comments.

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I took our three kids (two neurotypicals, one non-verbal autistic) to the sensory friendly showing of Toy Story 3 at Rio Gaithersburg. Somehow, 10 a.m. was earlier than we thought; it was tough getting there on time, but that's just us. I was stressed out by knowing that we didn't have the cushion time of previews in case we were late.

We did miss the opening of the cartoon short that played before the film, but that was fine. We still liked it. There was a pretty good turn out—we were able to find seats easily, but people trickled in for several minutes after the start of the film and the theater became full.

I expected the lights to be a little higher, but it was still dark, maybe just one level up from full darkness. And at first I was like, really? Is this the sensory friendly showing? But as time passed, and kids started to make noise, I realized that at times I had to strain to hear the movie over the hum of the audience.

For real, it was the loudest audience I've ever heard. But that was okay. It was okay when my boyfriend's son vocalized and when my own chatty five year old had a lot to say about the movie. There was a steady hum of squeaks, squwaks, and grunts throughout.

By the second half of the film, there was a gang of little kids running up and down in front of the screen, and there was a semi-agitated kid pacing and stimming on the steps next to our seats. It was all okay. My boyfriend's son got a bit agitated during the suspenseful part of the movie—who knew how scary pink teddy bears could be? So the two of them took a break and stood at the top of the stadium seating. The pacing kid hung out with them. It was kinda nice.

To sum up, Toy Story 3: Awesome movie, a little scarier than necessary. It involved a menacing teddy bear, a scary monkey and potential doom in a garbage dump.

Sensory Friendly Film: A safe place to take your kid if you have a hard time in public. It's cheap enough that you don't feel terrible about leaving early. No one will give you a dirty look if your kid is noisy or active. If there's a tantrum, no biggie, no need to be embarrassed, just exit, calm down and come back in, or don't. Easy Peasy. However, this is still a movie theater, it's still pretty dark with a big colorful screen and fairly dark lighting.


Susan said...

What a cool post. I wondered about those movies -- good to hear that it worked out (pretty) well!