Kids with autism often struggle with sensory overload, which can make ordinary outings like catching a film at a crowded, noisy movie theatre difficult if not impossible. But as of this weekend, families in some cities will have an option that caters to the needs of people with autism spectrum disorder. In partnership with Autism Speaks Canada, movie theatre giant Cineplex Entertainment will be offering sensory-friendly screenings at select theatres across Canada starting February 14.
Families can expect 2-D projection, increased house lighting, lower speaker volumes and smaller crowds, plus they can bring in outside food to accommodate dietary restrictions. There will also be a calm zone nearby if kids need a break.
The movies will screen on select Saturdays at 10:30 a.m., before theatres are open, ensuring a less chaotic environment. The program will launch with The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water on February 14, followed by Cinderella on April 4, Home on April 18 and The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 16. A full list of participating theatres is available at Cineplex.com, and future screenings will also be posted on the site. All guests will be charged the child admission price (a nice break for parents and caregivers), and tickets will be available the Tuesday before the showing.
We’re thrilled that these screenings will be offered on a regular schedule at a dozen theatres, but we’d love to see expanded to more cities across Canada (such as Toronto and Vancouver, which are conspicuously absent from the list of participating theatres) so more kids with autism can feel comfortable as they catch the latest kids’ flick on the big screen.