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Sensory friendly movies for kids with autism

Movies theaterTrips to the movies can be far more stressful than entertaining for many children with autism. The loud noises, big flashing images, and sudden change in lighting can be over stimulating— resulting in excessive excitement or anxiousness— and often times their reactions are met with glares and murmurs from fellow patrons who mistake their responses as “bad behavior.”

April is National Autism Awareness month. A year ago, in order to offer improved viewing experiences for kids with autism and their families, AMC Entertainment and the Autism Society teamed up to create “sensory friendly” movie screenings. The program is growing quickly. Initially sensory friendly screenings only occurred in a handful of theaters; now over 90 AMC cinemas throughout the country are participating.

“Some children with ASDs (autism spectrum disorders) can be quite sensitive to certain sensory stimuli and can be over-interested in, afraid of, or have an unusual reaction to the sight, sound, taste or feel of things,” says Ellen Hanson, PhD , a staff psychologist and lead researcher specializing in ASDs at Children’s Hospital Boston.

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