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AUTISM FRIENDLY SCREENINGS SHOWN AT THE PALACE CINEMA

10th November, 2015

AUTISM FRIENDLY SCREENINGS SHOWN AT THE PALACE CINEMA

October and November saw the beginning of Autism Friendly Screenings at the Palace Cinema. Suitable for all ages, these screenings provide autistic adults and children the chance to experience the cinema.


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a mental condition which affects 1 in 100 people in the UK, according to NHS Choices. Predominantly the symptoms are presented in childhood and will affect individuals for their entire lives. People affected by the condition most typically struggle to communicate verbally and find it difficult to develop relationships with others. The disorder is diagnosed on a spectrum as each individual's condition can greatly differ in severity; some people encounter problems learning language and are unable to interact effectively, whereas others may also experience debilitating physical symptoms and extreme behaviour difficulties.


Caring for an autistic child or adult can be challenging on a day-to-day basis for family and friends as they can become disruptive in social situations and upset if their routines change. Disruptive behaviour can greatly limit the social activities available to children and adults alike, with watching a film in a cinema being a clear example. With loud noises, bright screens and a dark and at times quiet atmosphere, a cinema can be an unsettling environment for autistic people.


Since October the Palace Cinema has offered a new film showing known as Autism Friendly Screenings. The first two showings included Inside Out 2D and Hotel Transylvania 2 2D, both popular new-release children's films. With the aim of providing a safe and welcoming environment for autism sufferers and their parents or carers, the Autism Friendly Screenings allow guests to move around the screen while the film is showing. Along with not being obliged to physically stay in one place, the lights are put on low and the film volume is turned down. These changes to how a film is typically shown help to create a calmer atmosphere, one that offers children and adults the chance to experience watching a film in the cinema.


Local mother Louise Jacob-Armstrong helped to initiate interest in the Autism Friendly Screenings. Her son is autistic, yet he greatly enjoys watching films and ‘has hundreds of DVDs at home'. Before now she has been unable to take him to the cinema as it is a ‘scary and stressful' experience for him. For Louise, having the Autism Friendly Screenings is a fantastic activity option as many uncertainties that her son fears are removed. For example, the theatre curtain is raised before guests arrive which ensures that he is not frightened of what is behind the curtain.


She emphasises that some people with autism may simultaneously have ‘sensory processing difficulties' caused by Sensory Processing Disorder. This disorder commonly involves hearing and sight sensitivities, strong smell and taste variations, all of which are heightened by changeable situations. It is important for most individuals with SPD and autism to have a ‘very organised calendar' without any surprises as this helps them to cope better on a daily basis. Altering the dynamic of the cinema experience establishes a situation that is more familiar to children and adults with these disorders.


With attendance increasing at each screening, the Palace Cinema hopes to show another Autism Friendly Screening in December, with the film yet to be confirmed. All information about this event will become available via the Palace Cinema Facebook page and on the Palace Cinema website nearer the time.


For further information about autism support on the Isle of Man, please visit the below websites:

  • Autism Initiatives - http://www.autisminitiatives.org/where-we-are/isle-of-man/
  • Autism in Mann - https://www.facebook.com/autisminmann/
  • Parents of Autism Isle of Man - https://www.facebook.com/groups/moreservicesIOM/

 

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