AMC Theatres team up with Autism Society
Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 22:11
Keith Ladd, an hourly manager at AMC Theatre in Terre Haute, understands why sensory-free qualities in films are important for autistic children because not only does his co-worker have an autistic child, but he does, as well.
“[My son] can handle the G movies, but some PG he can’t. It’s not a major issue for him, but I can understand where it can be an issue because I understand his issues,” Ladd said. “Like a PG-13 [film], he can’t sit through it, he gets scared and it’s too much for him.”
Ladd’s son is diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, also known as high functioning autism. Because of his diagnosis, he is less altered by high sensory stimulants. Other forms of autism, however, exemplify much larger sensitivity to sensory stimulants.
“Given that autism is such a diverse disorder, there are three issues for them: some of them are visual, some of them are tactile and some of them are hearing,” Ladd said.
Autism is a complex neurodevelopment disability that alters a person’s ability to interact and communicate; for example, people with autism may not understand the social etiquette of seeing a movie in a public theater.
This is what drove AMC Theatres around the nation and the Autism Society to team up and bring families affected by autism an opportunity to watch newly released films monthly in a safe environment. This month’s film at AMC Terre Haute 12 was “Wreck It Ralph” and showed last Sunday.
“So what we do is make them into 2D so the sensual visual part isn’t overwhelmed with 3D versions,” Ladd said. “We also keep the light up about half way so it doesn’t get too bright. We keep the sound somewhere in the middle so it doesn’t overwhelm their ears.”
Ladd said that keeping the lights dim is crucial to limiting anxiety and the lowered volume limits any sudden noises that may disrupt continuity.
“The object is, because so many autistic children remain isolated at home or at play groups with other autistic children, they don’t get to come out and enjoy the movies as much because everything is so overwhelming,” Ladd said.
Ladd said that the theater prefers to choose family friendly movies and movies that children really want to see. For example, they played “Finding Nemo” when it was released and plan to play “Rise of the Guardians” next month on Dec. 8.
Ladd said that not only is it crucial for the children, but also for their families. These movie events give parents and families affected by autism a chance to get out and do an activity together that they will all enjoy.
“It’s great for everybody, I think it’s a great idea,” he said.
Ladd hopes that the attendance and popularity will continue to grow. Due to it being such a low advertised and unknown event, the number of attendees every month remains less than desirable.
“…every month it is growing just a little bit more, more people are getting out there,” Ladd said. “And the more success we have in presenting it directly, the more success we’ll have with people coming in.”
For more information regarding autism, visit http://www.autism-society.org/, and for more information on monthly movies playing across the nation, visit http://www.amctheatres.com/programs/sensory-friendly-films.