This special campaign of “sensory screenings” is being supported by the major cinema chains Cineworld, Vue, Empire, Showcase and Odeon in partnership with autism charities Dimensions and The National Autistic Society.
So-called “autism-friendly” screenings are adapted to be more friendly and welcoming to people with autism, learning disabilities and cognitive disorders. This includes leaving the lights on at a low level, turning down the sound a little and no trailers at the beginning of the film. The audience is also allowed to move around the cinema and make some noise and can bring their own food.
Autism-friendly sessions have been around for a few years with US cinemas starting monthly screenings in 2011 and Canadian cinemas started a program in 2015.
The UK screenings started on 26 March and will continue until 10 April. Two hundred of these screenings will take part on the day itself.
The listings of the screenings can be found on a special autism friendly screenings section of the Your Local Cinema accessible cinema website. These special screenings are not captioned or audio described, although research shows that people on the autism spectrum can benefit from captions and audio description.
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