Autism friendly films are a big hit

A pioneering initiative to organise special screenings for autistic children and adults has been a big hit at a cinema in Wrexham

So much so that the Odeon at the Eagles Meadow shopping centre is now planning to make it a monthly feature.

Next up is Johnny English Reborn and it will be screened on Tuesday, October 18, at 11.30am.

Manager Andy Elvis said: “The first showing of an autism friendly film proved extremely popular as in enabled families to watch a cinema film properly for the first time.

“Autistic children find the darkness, flashing lights and noisy sound effects of the big screen frightening, so that most of the time they can’t bear to watch the film.

“As before, we will be playing the film in an autism friendly environment with the lights up and the sound at a lower level with no trailers or adverts.

“Guests in the screen have the freedom to move around as they wish and staff will be on hand at all times to help as and when required.

“The event is aimed to be a monthly feature with the next one scheduled to be on November 18th. The screenings will be on Tuesday mornings initially. 

” We see this as an invaluable opportunity to reach out to another segment of our disabled audience, something that will bring joy to a great many autistic children and adults. 

“We are working in conjunction with the autism charity Dimensions.”
The trial screening over the summer was the blockbuster film,

Mr Popper’s Penguins.

In the audience was Eleri Lewis, of Penycae, who took her autistic son Michael, nine, and his elder brother Mathew, 14, along to the screening.

She was delighted to be able to enjoy a family film with Michael, a treat most parents take for granted.

Eleri said: “The biggest problem with autistic children, and remember there are varying degrees of autism, is noise. For example, Michael went to the toilet on arrival at the cinema and when someone used the hand dryer the noise had him covering his ears and he became visibly distressed.

“So far as my son is concerned noise is the biggest issue and as a result we have not been able to enjoy the cinema experience before. We have always wanted to see new films but there is no way he could cope with the usual high volume levels.

“What the Odeon Cinema here at Eagles Meadow is doing is brilliant.”

Sarah Lee, also of Penycae, was there with her eight-year-old autistic son, Tomos, and described the experience as “fantastic”.

She said: “We did try going to the cinema a few months ago but it turned into a traumatic experience. We were only in for a few moments as Tomos simply couldn’t cope with the noise levels.

“Trying to do something to include autistic children and young people has to be a good thing and the Odeon should be congratulated on their efforts and for giving something different a real go.”

All of the details are on the Dimensions website

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