Going to the movies can be stressful for children with autism, sensory processing disorders, or developmental disabilities. Things like theater lighting, the volume of the movie, and having to sit still quietly may cause distress. This often causes families with children with developmental disabilities to leave a movie early or decide against going to the movies at all.
Fortunately, about ten years ago, theaters began creating accommodations to make the movie-watching experience friendlier and less threatening for those with sensory processing disorders. Many theaters are working to expand these sensory-friendly movie programs as the demand grows.
What are sensory-friendly movies?
Theaters all over the country are starting to schedule special screenings of sensory-friendly children’s movies, most recently favorites such as Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again! and Incredibles 2. Not only will the volume of the movie be lower, the lights will be brighter, and the kids will be allowed to move around the theater, talking, singing, and dancing along with the characters. Oftentimes theaters will also allow parents to bring their own outside snacks to accommodate dietary restrictions. Some theaters, such as AMC, have also added sensory-friendly options for teens and adults with sensory processing disorders, featuring films with PG-13 or R ratings.
Where are sensory-friendly movies currently offered?
To find locations near you, click on the following links:
- AMC Theaters has a Sensory Friendly Film Program that offers family-friendly movies on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month! A list of participating theaters across the country can be found at their website by clicking the link above and scrolling to the bottom of the page.
- Emagine Theaters offers sensory-friendly films on the first and third Saturdays of each month, exclusively at the Emagine Theater in Novi on 12 Mile Rd.
- Marcus Theaters offer Reel Movies for Real Needs one Saturday a month at 10:30am! Some of their upcoming movies include Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Aquaman. Click above to see a full list of upcoming films and locations.
- Regal Cinemas have the My Way Matinee and is offered in states such as Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, and Idaho! For a full list of states and theaters, click the link above!
Recently, the sensory-friendly trend has expanded outside of movie theaters to amusement parks, Broadway theaters, and even Chuck E. Cheese, making these places accessible to more people.
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