"Sensory movie" experiences allow those with autism, special needs to enjoy a trip to the movies

MILWAUKEE -- Families of children with special needs like autism are excited about the ability to take their children to the movie theater thanks to special "sensory movie" experiences.

"Finding Dory" was shown at Greenwood Premiere Cinema in South Dakota this past weekend.

These "sensory movie" experiences allow families who may not otherwise get a chance to go to the movies an opportunity to enjoy the theater experience.

The lights are dimmed, but not turned off completely, and the sound is not as loud as it normally is during these "sensory movie" experiences.

This is done to make the experience more enjoyable for families with children who have been diagnosed with autism, or have other special needs. It is an effort to make them feel more comfortable in the theater.

Ange Cogburn said she's excited more theaters are offering these "sensory movie" experiences. She has a son with autism, and a daughter with some learning delays. Cogburn said heading out as a family is difficult.

"Sometimes it's difficult to get out of their familiar surroundings. Sometimes that can cause them to have meltdowns and for them to get very stressed out, and the rest of the family gets stressed out and everybody around is watching and staring. Sometimes it's just easier to stay home," Cogburn said.

Jessica Baker, the director at Greenwood Premiere Cinema, which has started offering these "sensory movie" experiences for the first time said she was inspired because her friend has a son with autism.

"It's really hard for them to be able to enjoy going out anywhere because of their special needs, and they don't really have anywhere to go. Greenwood is a small town and we don't have a whole lot of activities to do for them. This is a place for people who can't take their children to a regular movie without taking them out because they're crying. They can bring their children to this movie and feel welcomed and not uncomfortable or have to worry about it," Baker said.

Here in Wisconsin, "sensory movie" experiences are offered by AMC Theaters and Marcus Theatres.

AMC has partnered with the Autism Society to offer these special showings on the second and fourth Tuesday and Saturday each month. Family-friendly films are shown on Saturdays at 10:00 a.m., and Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m.

"Sensory movie" experiences are available at the following AMC Theaters in Wisconsin:

    CLICK HERE to learn more or to purchase tickets.

    Marcus Theatres offers a select first run film one Saturday per month at 10:30 a.m.

    Upcoming "Reel Movies for Real Needs" are as follows:

      CLICK HERE to learn more or to purchase tickets.