For many parents with children affected by sensory sensitivities, the idea of going to the movies can be daunting. Combining the loud volume with a dark room and the need to be still and quiet among the audience can become too much pressure for many people.
That’s why sensory friendly movies began: to remove the worry surrounding these outings and encourage children to enjoy watching their favourite movie in a safe and accepting environment.
What is a sensory friendly movie?
A sensory friendly movie is a special screening at a movie theatre, specifically for children with sensory sensitivities including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). At these screenings the volume is lower, the lights are dimmed and people are encouraged to enjoy the movie and be themselves. This means that anyone can get up and walk around, dance, sing or shout, all in an accepting and safe environment.
Sensory friendly movies can help to improve the quality of life for anyone living with sensory sensitivities by providing a comfortable place for social or family outings. Being able to relax and enjoy social outings can have many positive effects on people living with disabilities.
What are sensory sensitivities?
Sensory sensitivity is a complex neurological condition and can include autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder (SPD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or sensitivities due to things like acquired brain injuries.
Sensory sensitivities in children include heightened sensitivity to things in the world around them like sound, movement, smell and touch. This can affect a child’s learning and daily life as they try to manage the stress of everyday experiences. Having sensory friendly experiences available, like movie screenings, can help these children grow, enjoy life and further develop their social skills.
What is autism spectrum disorder?
ASD is a common, lifelong developmental condition, often characterised by sensory sensitivities. Autism Spectrum Australia acknowledges that 1 in 70 Australians are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
You can read more about What is autism?
Who can benefit from sensory friendly movies?
Anyone can enjoy a sensory friendly movie! The screenings are set up specifically for children with sensory sensitivities and their families to relax and enjoy, but people without disabilities are more than welcome to attend as well.
Where can I go to watch a sensory friendly movie?
Sensory friendly movie screenings are becoming more common around Australia. Make sure you check with your local cinema to see if they run these special screenings and if not, take a moment to let them know why they should consider it.