The Concept of Autism Friendly Screenings
I recently came across an article from the UK about autism friendly movie showings that are geared toward families of children with autism and other developmental disorders. Many children with autism are easily affected by the loud sounds, darkness, and flashing lights of the movie theater. On the opposite end of the spectrum, children with aspergers often are not bothered by the same sounds and lighting but cannot sit still or stay quiet during the movie. The acute attention to detail causes them tonotice everything and want to share what they’ve noticed with people around them. To address this “problem”, 40 cinemas in England are going to begin offering Autism Friendly Films where the lights will be dimmed rather than completely off, the sound will be softer, and the audience members will be free to talk without worry about disturbing others.
Opportunity or Segregation?
Many parents are celebrating this idea. The thought of going to the movies and not having to deal with fellow patrons who just don’t understand that your child’s behavior is not a result of bad parenting rather the way s/he expressed him/herself is comforting. Most people still don’t understand what autism is and how someone with autism expresses themselves. While many people otherwise would be more tolerant if they knew the behavior was a result of a “disease” (I really hate that word), the simple truth is that most people don’t know the signs of autism and don’t always put two and two together. Allowing the child or adult with autism a “safe space” if you will to watch a movie and not worry about disturbing others is theoretically wonderful.
To play devil’s advocate here, does this open up the door to segregating people with autism? If there are screenings that are “autism friendly”, does this mean that people with autism shouldn’t go to the other showings? One could argue that this could open up a pandora’s box of ignorant and just plain rude people who will demand that someone with autism leave a show because another, more suitable, option is available.
Share you opinion with us. What do you think? Would you prefer autism friendly screenings or does this just add to the segregation of developmentally disabled people.