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Lights up! Sound down. Action! - Sensory Friendly Films help enhance family movie experience

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Cade was 2 months old when he, my two girls and I went to his first movie.

My plan after Cade’s birth was to be able to spend some quality family time with all my children during maternity leave. However, after Cade was born with Down Syndrome, severe jaundice and erratic blood counts, he and I spent a lot of time going to and from the hospital and doctor’s visits the first two months.

That first movie was the most calm experience, with Cade sleeping most of the time and not making a sound. Thankfully, my daughters and I were able to enjoy going to the movies and reclaim a little normalcy.

But that was the last time we were able to do that type of activity with Cade. 

As he got a little older, he would cry continuously if a room became unexpectedly dark or sounds were loud. Car rides at night were not pleasant, and movies were completely out of the question.

When Cade was 6, my youngest daughter and I took him to see a children’s movie. Everything seemed fine … until the lights dimmed and the previews started. Why oh why did they have a loud and scary preview?

I stepped to the hallway, calmed him, and he fell asleep, probably from the stress of the moment. We were able to watch the rest of the movie peacefully, at least until he woke up in the last 5 minutes of the movie.

Out of respect for other moviegoers and for Cade’s (and our) sake, we haven’t tried this again.

But is there hope, perhaps? While Googling for area attractions and shopping in Arlington, TX, I discovered one of the movie theaters has “Sensory Friendly Films” where the lights are on, the sound is turned down and the audience can move about. The website states this environment was created in partnership with the Autism Society, but this also can be beneficial to other special needs children.

Imagine my excitement that these types of needs are being recognized and a business is providing families with access to entertainment that otherwise would be clearly difficult to enjoy together as a family.

Continuing my search, I discovered “Sensory Friendly Films” are also available at these Oklahoma locations:

- Quail Springs 24

- Crossroads 16

Click here for the website that tells more about locations nationwide participating in this program. However, be sure and contact individual theaters to confirm time and dates, since they are subject to change.

My only wish now is that this program will be expanded beyond once a month.

It’s definitely something my son and I will plan to attend.

– Linda Lynn

Follow me on Twitter @OKNewsResearch


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Linda Lynn

Linda Lynn was born and raised in rural Oklahoma. A graduate of Purcell High School, Lynn began working at The Oklahoman in 1987 as a reporter after earning a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma. She has served as both a... Read more ›