Saturday, I took the kids to see their first movie! We went to a sensory friendly movie at a Cobb Luxury Theater. It was full of experience for sure. I called to confirm about the sensory friendly environment after finding out from my ABA therapist. It was advertised to have lower volume, more light and an environment where kids could be moving around and be animated.
We arrived and paid the $8 a person to see the movie. Then we went to the treats and picked up an Icee for my son. We skipped all the food, popcorn, drinks and candy. I had shoved some starburst and a water in my bag for the movie. We had to use the bathroom, expect my son wouldn’t go. He would of course wait till 30 minutes in to have to go. Immediately, my daughter asked to go home as soon as we got to our seats. Once the movie started she did a pretty good job watching and staying in her seat. My son, Max was pretty good at staying in the area and coming back when I asked him too. At the end, after the family in front of us left he started climbing on the back of the chairs. Once the movie was over, he didn’t want to leave and was sitting in the chair so nice.
One thing I learned really quickly is that just because it’s sensory friendly doesn’t mean people will be friendly. Unfortunately, the family in front of us left because their son was walking around the theater and another family or person said that he was bothering them. It was their first movie too and they were concerned about how much he was moving around and I think that they were getting tired trying to contain and redirect him while being judged by strangers. Understanding and acceptance is something that in the autism world we all try to practice and teach. We all hoped that as a group of parents/family members of children with special needs that we could all be friendly, understanding and accepting. My suggestions were to never ask others questions about my child’s actions or behaviors. Example: “Is he bothering you?” That allows the other person to just say yes without reason. My reality is I don’t care if his shriek bothers you, or you don’t like the way he stimming so I’m never going to ask if he is bother you. I was sad that they left but they had to make the best decision for their family at that time. I tried to be an ally and offered to help as much as I could but it didn’t solve the situation.
When it was time to go, we went to the bathroom and headed back into the front to exit the theater. Max threw himself on the floor crying. See the bottom middle picture in the collage. It was horrible because it was right in the middle of the floor, right between where you buy tickets and where you go to buy food. He wouldn’t get up. He had just done this yesterday too. The day before it was on the pool desk when they had to close due to lightning. He refused to get up then and had to be carried off because it was considered dangerous conditions. So, this time because it was not dangerous I walked my now crying daughter over to the table. My daughter was crying because when my son threw himself down his hand or arm hit her face. I went and sat with her at a table and watched my son cry in the middle of the floor. I tried to get him up right away and then again a second time. Finally, I just told my daughter it was time for us to go. We grabbed our stuff and headed to the door. By the time I reached the door to push it open, Max was walking through with us! Thank God that worked!
We may try a free movie again this summer but I don’t see how we will make it for the entire viewing. I will consider doing another sensory friendly movie but not too soon. I will however, continue to keep working to help special needs and autism families by continuing to educate for acceptance and understanding for our children.