Taking An Autistic Child To The Movies

Written By Autism Parents

A collection of parents navigating our way around raising children with autism

Taking An Autistic Child To The Movies

We try and help in all walks of daily life so today’s article is all about taking an autistic child to the movies.

Autism and a trip to the movies

Taking an autistic child to the movies can be a rewarding and fun experience, both for the child and the parent.

However, it requires thoughtful preparation and understanding. With that in mind we have created the below guide to the process.

Hopefully we can help make a movie outing a success for you and your family.

Understand your child’s needs

Every autistic child is different, with their own set of needs and preferences.

This uniqueness becomes especially relevant for excursions such as a trip to the movies.

Some children might be sensitive to loud noises or dark spaces, while others might find sitting still for an extended period challenging.

Thinking long and hard about these specific needs can help you prepare better.

Taking an autistic child to the movies
Taking an autistic child to the movies can be daunting.

Choose the right movie

Selecting the right movie is crucial. Opt for films that align with your child’s interests and age group.

Animation or children’s movies are often a good choice due to their bright colours, clear dialogue, and straightforward plots.

Avoid movies with loud sound effects or intense action scenes if your child is sensitive to noise.

It may be for example that your child has a fixed interest on a type of toy. Picking a movie around that interest is a good starting point.

Another tip we would give here is to not follow the crowd. If there is a lot of hype around a new kids movie but you don’t think it’ll interest your child, then give it a wide birth.

Prepare your child

Prepare your child for what to expect.

You can talk about the plot of the movie, who the characters are, and what a cinema experience entails.

Visual aids, like a storyboard of going to the movies, can be particularly helpful.

Or you could watch YouTube videos of trips out to the movies which will help your child become accustomed to the process.

Timing is key

Choose a screening time when it’s likely to be less crowded. Matinee shows during weekdays are often less busy.

Some cinemas also offer special screenings for children with sensory sensitivities, with lower sound levels and dimmed lights rather than complete darkness.

Visit in advance

If possible, try to visit the cinema beforehand without the intention of watching a movie.

This can help your child get accustomed to the environment. Show them the screen, seats, and where the bathrooms are.

Many theatres are more than happy to give your child a guided tour of an empty screen.

Take comfort items

Bring along comfort items that your child prefers, like a favorite toy or a blanket.

Pack snacks that your child enjoys, especially if they have specific dietary needs. Many cinemas allow this for children with special needs.

A helpful addition for a child who craves movement would be a wiggle cushion.

These can just help a child sit for longer when otherwise sitting still is uncomfortable for them.

Choose your seats wisely

Choose seats that are comfortable for your child.

Sitting near the aisle can be helpful if you need to step out quickly. Some children might prefer sitting at the back to have fewer people around them, while others might want to be closer to the screen.

Be ready for breaks

Be prepared to take breaks. If your child becomes overwhelmed, it’s okay to step out of the theater for a few minutes.

This can help them calm down and get ready to return to the movie.

Consider bringing alternative entertainment

If your child finds it difficult to sit through the entire movie, consider bringing a tablet with headphones.

They can watch something else if they start to feel uncomfortable. Make sure to keep the volume low to not disturb others.

Sitting in the back row can be a good option if you think you’ll have to break out an electronic device.

Discuss the movie

Remember to discuss the movie afterward. This can help your child process the experience and express their feelings. It’s a great opportunity for bonding and understanding your child’s perspective.

Be flexible

Finally, we would advise you to be flexible. Even with all the preparation, sometimes things don’t go as planned.

It’s okay to leave early if your child isn’t comfortable. The goal is to have a positive experience, not necessarily to watch the entire movie.

Summary – Taking an autistic child to the movies

Taking an autistic child to the movies is about creating a comfortable environment for them to enjoy a new experience.

With the right preparation and mindset, it can be an enjoyable outing for both of you. Remember, the key is patience, understanding, and flexibility.

Any tips or ideas?

We would love to hear from you if you have got any techniques or ideas for our readers to try.

Be sure to leave a comment if any of the above has helped or if you have any ideas we can add to this article.

Also be sure to search for any other articles you might find helpful.

Try for example searching below for topics like ‘meltdown’ or ‘communication’.

About the author

A collection of parents navigating our way around raising children with autism.

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