Taking an autistic child to the cinema can be an exhausting experience, according to Berwick couple Lee and Jaci Johnston.
However, they will be able to sit back and relax when they take their four-year-old son, Nathan, to The Maltings’ first-ever autism friendly screening next month.
“This is fantastic news for parents with autistic and other disabled children,” said Lee, from Prior Park. “Any family with a child with ASD, ADHD, Aspergers and many other disabilities will know how hard it is to take their child to most venues where their behaviour is classed as unacceptable or frowned upon by others.”
The showing of Rio 2 on Monday, April 7 at 11am will include reduced sound levels, increased lighting, advert and trailer-free content and the freedom to move around and make noise.
Tamiko Mackie of The Maltings said, “We are delighted to present this autism friendly screening, which I believe is the first-ever of its kind in The Maltings’ 24-year history.
“Watching a film on the big screen is a wonderful experience that should be accessible to everyone. Last October, we began offering periodic English subtitled screenings for people with hearing loss, which has been very well received.
“This autism friendly screening is another significant step in our efforts to be more inclusive. We look forward to welcoming anyone with autism or special needs and their families and carers.”
Elizabeth Brown, head teacher at The Grove School which Nathan attends, added: “This screening can make the whole cinema experience much more pleasurable and enjoyable for young people with additional needs.
“Our children are always impeccably behaved but some have different tolerance levels and the noise and flashing lights at a regular cinema screening can make it much more difficult for them so we’re delighted The Maltings are being so supportive.”
The screening is backing World Autism Awareness Day.
The Maltings Theatre & Cinema is a member of the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association (CEA), the trade body for UK cinema operators, which is helping to coordinate these screenings and promotes broader work on access being undertaken by the sector.
CEA Chief Executive, Phil Clapp, said, “An increasing number of UK cinemas are programming specialist screenings for their local communities. We are thrilled that independent cinemas like The Maltings are expressing their commitment to be as inclusive as possible by finding different ways to meet the needs of disabled customers through Autism Friendly Screenings as well as Subtitled Screenings.”