Sensory Friendly Films

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A recent parent survey that was conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics reveals that 1 in 45 children that are 3 years old and older have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Families of these children have an important role in helping their children interact and learn in the best way possible for personal success. Some effects of the sensory processing dysfunction include motor delays, language deficits, and strong sensory interests. This provides challenges with certain environments that these young children interact with every day.   

Many organizations are trying to develop and present environments that are safe and accepting for children with autism. These environments provide great opportunities for families to allow their children to express themselves and have a good time. The Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library in Zionsville decided to create one of these environments with sponsor sensory friendly films. Youth Service librarians Becky Stuck and Kelli Brooks received inspiration for the idea when a movie theater chain began offering sensory friendly experiences. In an interview with Pharos Tribune, Stuck stated, “Kelli and I wanted to bring a similar adaptive movie experience to the families we serve.” A couple of the movies that have already been presented at the library include Coco and Small Foot. Families that attend these movies are invited and encouraged to bring blankets and snacks, and the lights are turned on while the volume of the movie is low. An area is also left open for movement of the children to dance and interact with the movie.

Marianne Ross took her daughter to view a matinee in 2007. Her daughter began to dance with excitement during the movie, and other viewers asked Ross to leave with her daughter. After this upsetting incident occurred, Ross spoke with an AMC manager, and they both formed a plan to offer movies for families that have children with autism. This experience was one of the sources of inspiration that drove Stuck and Brooks to offer these same opportunities at their local library. This amazing idea and occasion continues to grow and provide great experiences for children with autism.

Families that are planning to attend this event are asked to pre register online at zionsvillelibrary.org/evanced. The event requires no cost, and the library can be found at 250 N. 5th St., Zionsville. The next sensory friendly movie will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on March 18. Everyone is welcome to attend.   

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