Every Saturday morning, at 10:00 a.m., Rave’s Stonybook 20 Cinemas, out on Hurstbourne Parkway, will have a special movie for families with autistic or sensory-challenged children. Part of the Rave chain’s nation-wide Sensory Sensitive Cinema program, the Stonybrook theatres will turn down the volume, turn up the house lights, and let kids talk, sing, or even walk around the theatre during the movie.
Sensory Sensitive Cinema is an innovative new idea for families affected by autism or other disabilities. Now, families can watch a movie on the big screen with no loud noises and higher house lights for better visibility. “We also realize that the normal standards of theater etiquette of ‘please sit and be quiet’ can also be challenging,” according to Rave. In addition, those with strict dietary concerns can bring their own snacks.
This new approach to family cinema viewing was derived from autism and Down syndrome support groups and input from parents and others who were looking for a solution. The purpose of Sensory Sensitive Cinema is to control the environment and provide an atmosphere in which sensory-challenged kids will feel comfortable and also to provide an atmosphere where the parents of the children not to have to worry about the noise their kids are making.
Michigan Daily  Fine Arts Editor, Anna Sadovskaya, recently interviewed Dr. Catherine Lord, former director of the Autism & Communication Disorders Center at the University of Michigan, and present director of the new Institute for Brain Development at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill-Cornell Medical College. According to Dr. Lord, individuals with autism may have difficulty sitting through regular movie screenings due to repetitive motor gesticulations and an inability to connect with the film material, which can stem from symptoms of their disorders.
Sadovskaya also talked with Kelly Mervyn, general manager of Rave Motion Pictures, who said, “Sensory Sensitive Cinema is the normal feature with a couple exceptions. The lights are going to be up, the sound’s going to be lower and the folks seeing it will be mainly families with disabilities, such as autism or Down syndrome, who want to go see a movie but don’t want to have the problem of a child being loud or disruptive.”
“It’s a great experience,” Lord said of Sensory Sensitive Cinema. “I think children and adults (with autism) really enjoy videos, enjoy stories and animation. They enjoy visual input and music, but the general atmosphere of a movie may be overwhelming. This program allows them to become accustomed with movie-going rather than feel lost in it.”
Every Saturday morning, at 10:00 a.m., and tickets are only $5.00.
Stonybrook 20 + IMAX® is located at 2745 South Hurstbourne Parkway Louisville, KY 40220. For more information, please call Stonybrook at 502-499-6658.
Learn More: Rave Sensory Sensitive Cinema