Birthday boost for autism friendly cinema

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Special cinema sessions which make move-going more accessible to people with autism and their families celebrate their first anniversary this weekend.

The project overseen by social care provider Dimensions was launched last summer in partnership with the Odeon cinema chain.

Screenings of chosen films are held each month at the Aylesbury Odeon, which has welcomed hundreds of film fans over the past 12 months.

On Sunday a screening of the new U-rated family film Dr Seuss: The Lorax, pictured, will be held at 11.30am.

Lisa Hopkins of Dimensions said: “The autism community have really embraced our project. This partnership has enabled so many people who experience autism to feel more involved in their community. It is all about inclusion and we are very pleased with the positive impact it has made to people’s lives.

“One in a hundred people in England and Wales are diagnosed with autism and it is essential society is adaptable to their needs – this project, we feel, is a huge step in the right direction”.

Screenings are of mainstream films shown in a sensory friendly environment. Lights are on low, sound is turned down, trailers are omitted and people can bring their own food and make noise.

Support worker Inreek Sandhu said: “I have been attending these screenings for a while now and think they are amazing. The guy I support can be vocal, so it was always difficult taking him to the cinema – which was a shame because he loves going.

“Now he can go and be as vocal as he wishes. I couldn’t think of a better setting for him.”

Parent Sarah Ashley said: “My son had already been asking for this film and we felt bad we couldn’t take him. Thanks for making it possible – we have three very excited kids now.”

The project started as a one-off, with 3,222 people attending the first screening of Mr Popper’s Penguins in 40 cinemas.

After the decision to roll the screenings out to more cinemas on a monthly basis. the project has gone from strength to strength and the organisations have recently been shortlisted for a Third Sector Excellence Award in the corporate partnership category.

Tickets for Sunday’s screening will be available from 11am on Wednesday morning by calling 0800 138 3315. For more information, visit www.dimensions-uk.org/autismfilms