More movie theatres across Canada are offering accommodation for individuals with autism and their families.
Autism Speaks Canada, which is working with the Cineplex theatres, says the expansion is due to public demand after the first sensory-friendly screenings earlier this year.
“It was really well received by the public,” says Carrie Habert, marketing director for the organization. “It started out as a test to see if there is a need for it and if it will be well attended, that was always the intention. But there was always a plan to expand and roll it out.”
The first screenings took place in 12 theatres over Family Day long weekend. These screenings take place every four to six weeks on Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. at select theatres.
With the positive feedback Cineplex received they are now adding special screening programs in 17 more theatres in Canada, for a total of 29. Thirteen are in Ontario and three of those are in the GTA: Mississauga, Scarborough and Vaughan.
Autism Speaks Canada has been working with Cineplex Entertainment to raise awareness for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD is another term for Autism and are both general terms for a group of complex disorders that focus around brain development.
These sensory-friendly screenings provide individuals with ASD and their families the opportunity to view the latest movies in a more comfortable environment. These screenings will provide families with the ability to view movies in 2D with increased lighting, at a lower volume and in a smaller environment.
Though Cineplex is partnered with Autism Speaks Canada on this project, these screenings are not limited to just those who have autism or their families. These “sensory friendly screenings” are open to anyone whom the environment is best suited for.
“I would hope one day that every single location would,” Christian Lograsso, Guest Services agent at Cineplex Entertainment comments in regards to the new expansion.
Lograsso goes on to talk about his family having a history of disability and that these screenings are ideal for them and would be better if there were more locations that offered it.
“The feedback has been great, the only concern so far is the limited availability for the locations,” he said. “I’m sure down the road we are going to have it in way more theatres.”
Habert says the end goal is all about making everyone more comfortable: “Small modifications are being made to make these films and movie going experiences more inclusive.”
Continuing to raise awareness for National Autism Awareness Month, the next screening is April 18 in all 29 theatre featuring the new animated movie Home, about an alien from another planet.