January 8, 2009

Shhhhh! Hands Down!

As I strolled along the exhibit halls, admiring the impressive art collection of Thomas Gilcrease, the silence, that is prevalent in museums, was broken several times due to my son’s scripting.

One would think that a museum wouldn’t be a ideal choice of parent to a child on the spectrum, but I feel that he deserves the same intellectual stimulation as the next person.

We’ve visited several museums over the years, but it was today that I learned a very big lesson.

After several “Shhhhhhh”s and “hands down”, my husband decided to get him to read the labels associated with each art piece.  I noticed that his behavior was immediately calmer.  The scripting was gone as was the flailing.  Additionally, he was also actively engaged while viewing a short documentary about the “birth of the western film”.  Something I didn’t think would interest him in the least.

I learn something new every day… thank goodness!

Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, this country is now more accessible.  However, it is my wish that this country will continue its efforts in making life more enjoyable for all its citizens by accommodating persons with Sensory Processing Disorder which a lot of children on the spectrum have.

Another “tough” venue for our children is the movie theater.  My son does pretty well… if it’s something he really likes.  3D flicks are usually fantastic as he sits in his seat, completely mesmerized.

I hear from a lot of parents who wouldn’t dare take their children to the movies for fear of sudden outbursts or meltdowns or just rude looks and/or comments from other patrons.

Unfortunately, most of these parents may be unaware of the silver lining hidden within that dark movie cloud.

AMC Entertainment (AMC) and Autism Society of America (ASA) have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other disabilities a special opportunity to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment on a monthly basis with the “Sensory Friendly Films” program.

In order to provide a more accepting and comfortable setting for this unique audience, the movie auditoriums will have their lights brought up and the sound turned down, families will be able to bring in their own gluten-free, casein-free snacks, and no previews or advertisements will be shown before the movie. Additionally, audience members are welcome to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Now, imagine, if you will, a world where every fun stop was as accommodating… {insert dream bubble here)

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