EASLEY — A sensory friendly screening of Disney Pixar’s “Finding Dory” will be shown Thursday at Premiere Cinema 8 in Easley.
The theater will cater to special needs children and their families by permitting free movement throughout the auditorium as well as lifting restrictions on talking and using electronic devices during the film.
Lighting will be kept a little brighter and the sound during the movie will be set a little lower, said an employee of the theater.
“These kinds of movies are just great,” said Jane Bohedy of Liberty. “My son has Autism and I’ve heard about showings like this in other towns, but I don’t think we’ve ever had one here.”
“Finding Dory” will be Bohedy’s son Jeremy’s first time to the movies. He’s 9 years old.
“It just was never really an option before,” said Bohedy. “I mean, sure, we could go but Jeremy has a tendency to echo pretty much everything he hears. I’m used to it but I can see how that could be bothersome to people trying to watch the movie.”
Echolalia, or meaningless repetition of another person’s spoken words, is a common trait among those affected with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
“I’m thinking there will probably be a lot of people there too, and sometimes crowds can freak him out. If he has a meltdown, which I’m really hoping he doesn’t, at least I know with this crowd, it’ll be understanding parents and not ones who get all judgey thinking I just can’t control my kid. We’re all in the same boat,” she said.
According to The Autism Society, the idea of sensory friendly films was born in 2007 in Elkridge, Md., when Marianne Ross took her daughter Meaghan, who was on the Spectrum, to a matinee starring the little girl’s favorite actor.
Ross intentionally picked an early showing hoping there would be fewer people but when 7-year-old Meaghan saw the actor on the big screen, she began to flap her hands, dance, twirl and jump up and down. Other movie-goers complained to staff, and the Ross family was asked to leave.
The next day, Ross contacted a local AMC Theatre in Columbia, Md., and asked if manager Dan Harris would be willing to set up a special screening for children on the autism spectrum. Harris agreed and also made modifications to the theater’s sound and lighting system.
Three hundred people showed up.
Recognizing the need for the program, Harris continued to hold monthly sensory friendly movies. He also contacted AMC’s headquarters to share the idea.
What began in Maryland with AMC, has now taken root in hundreds of theater chains across the county.
“After all, every kid should get to go to the movies,” Bohedy said.
The sensory friendly showing of “Finding Dory” is Thursday, June 30 at 10 a.m. at Easley Premiere Cinema 8 located at 5065 Calhoun Memorial Highway. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Tickets are $5.75 a person.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.