Saskatoon included in sensory friendly theatres

Watch above: Cineplex Entertainment introduces special times for children with autism spectrum disorder to screen new movies. Aaron Streck finds out how the new concept is being met.

SASKATOON – The aroma of popcorn, the large screen and the booming sound; that’s the full experience of going to the movies. Cineplex Entertainment has introduced special screenings for children with autism spectrum disorder to see new films in Saskatoon.

“You’re always told when you’re younger you have to behave, you have to sit properly and there’s some kids who can’t do that,” said Kathy Chambers, whose son Sebastian is dealing with autism.

Chambers used to take her son to the movies when he was younger but dealing with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been hard for the two of them to go for the past three years.

“He’s a little louder than the average kid, he likes to flap, sometimes he needs some sensory, he needs to be able to spin, he likes to talk and it’s hard for him to be able to be quiet,” said Chambers.

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After months of working with Autism Speaks Canada to develop a program, Cineplex Entertainment has created sensory friendly screenings tailored to Sebastian and others with autism.

“We’ve identified a group of movie goers out there for whom the traditional experience probably isn’t the best one and would benefit from an experience with 2D projection, increased lighting, lower volumes, smaller crowds, that’s how we’ve gone about creating the program,” said Cineplex Entertainment Communications Director Mike Langdon.

“Instead of having to worry about trying to keep him calm and keeping him quiet, he’ll be able to be himself and relax and enjoy the experience,” said Chambers.

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Saskatoon is one of 12 cities around the country, and the only one in Saskatchewan, that will show select sensory friendly screenings starting this Saturday before theatres are open to the public.

“Lots of individuals with autism I’m sure have enjoyed movies for years but for some of our other clients or other individuals on the spectrum there are sometime sensory involvements that make something like a movie theatre difficult,” said Garnett Francis with Autism Services of Saskatoon.

Sebastian, 12, is fascinated with movies, he even makes his own. His mom Kathy thinks this program will do wonders for his future.

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No longer needing to dread the movie experience, Kathy plans to take Sebastian back to the movies for a new experience this weekend.

The first showing will be The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Cineplex Odeon Centre Cinemas at The Centre Mall. The admission cost for all ages is the current child ticket price.

For more information on the program, you can visit Cineplex.

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