MOORE — Cindy Fogle remembers the day she left the Warren Theatre with tears of joy in her eyes.
Her family had gone to the theater to see the children's movie “The Croods.”
Her tears came after her 2-year-old son, Ethan, who has early signs of autism, was able to sit through his first movie. And this was the first time she, her husband and her children could do so as a family.
“Going to the movies is something you don't think twice about as an average person,” Fogle said. “But for someone with autism whose attention span isn't as long or whose ability to just do something as regular as go to a theater and sit and focus on a movie, it's so hard for him, on top of being 2.”
Crafting a solution
The Warren has started showing movies for children with autism or sensory disorders. People who go to these showings will notice the theater is not completely dark and the volume of the movie isn't as loud. Also, there aren't previews or advertisements.
And most important, the showing is kid friendly — talking, wiggling, standing and dancing are entirely acceptable behaviors for miniature moviegoers.
This month's movie will be “Monsters University” at 11 a.m. June 29. Ticket prices are $7 and go on sale Wednesday. Tickets will only be available at the theater's ticket office.
Autism is a group of developmental brain disorders, collectively called autism spectrum disorder. The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills and levels of impairment or disability that children on the spectrum might have.
‘They're just different'
Dan Gray, vice president of operations at Warren Theatres, said the showings started after a teacher approached him about holding a screening for children with autism and sensory disorders.
He soon found there was a large group of families with children with autism — and a lot of them hadn't been back to the movies since they'd had children.
One family told him it wasn't that they felt like they couldn't take their son out or that they were ashamed of their son.
“It was that they couldn't take the looks that they got from the general public when their son had an outburst,” he said. “The looks of ‘Why can't you control your kid?' Because the general public only sees what they see. They don't try to understand it.”
Fogle is looking forward to taking her son to more movies. Her first attempt to take him to see “Wreck-It Ralph” didn't work out and she's thankful for the specialized screenings.
Going to the movies helps Ethan learn about the types of activities that the general population takes part in, and she doesn't want him to miss out.
When people hear Ethan has autism, they'll sometimes say ‘I'm sorry.' She doesn't understand why.
“Autistic kids aren't less,” she said. “They're just different.”