Community Outing Tips - Movie Theater

Going to the movies can be an exciting, special adventure, but for a person with autism, the experience may not be so pleasurable. The dark theater, sound levels, sudden suspenseful moments, the images on screen, and sitting for a long time can be challenging. Turning your home into a movie theater could make the transition to the theater a more positive experience.

  • Pretend to be in a theater, make popcorn or have other theater treats available for a snack.
  • Eliminate the lights closest to the T.V. and lower the lights until there is only a small amount of light in the back of the room.
  • Gradually and slowly turn up the volume.
  • If he or she gets up and won’t return to their seat, turn off the movie and restart upon return.
  • Reward positive behaviors, such as remaining in his or her seat.

At the theater:

  • Go to your local movie theater and ask the manager or operator if you can have a tour of the theater, with the lights on.
  • Pack a few items to make the person feel more comfortable. Some items you can bring are: a favorite blanket or toy, ear plugs or ear muffs, a travel sized flashlight, and or a favorite snack (you may need to contact management prior to movie).
  • If you want to avoid crowds, pick a matinee, a movie that has been in theaters for a while, or arrive early.
  • Pick an age-appropriate movie that is less likely to have loud sound effects and/or explosions.
  • Previews tend to show the most action filled scenes, consider avoiding them by arriving late.
  • If the individual prefers a specific seat keep in mind that seating options might be limited. Ask the manager to reserve if necessary.

Use the link below to print a PDF version of this information to share with others.

Download PDF

For more information about this program contact: KohlsAutismAwareness@childrens-specialized.org

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