Well I am coming down from the adventure of going to watch a movie for the first time as a family. Thanks to the Autism Society of America we were able to go see the movie “UP”. They are providing sensory sensitive theatre once a month. Here is the link to check it out:
This was our first time and we were not sure what to expect. Being sensitive to those with specials needs includes no advertisements, they go directly to the film. Also “lights brought up and the sound turned down, families will be able to bring in their own gluten-free, casein-free snacks”. We were told if we needed to have quiet there was a theater for us where there were no movies playing around it so it was indeed quiet. There is no discouragement in being loud or speaking. And we were told we could move around if we needed to.
All of this was truly freeing. However, I must say I was overwhelmed with emotion and spent the first few minutes crying. I usually do not do that. The whole thing was quite stressful from start to finish but it was a great thing and we are going to attempt it again next month. We don’t know how Daniel will respond next time since he knows what to expect now.
All of the kids did very well.
Daniel made it through until the last 30 minutes, which is a miracle in itself. I explained to him what we were going to do before we went in and tried to ease all of us into this as gently as possibly.
We sat down and the movie started. Daniel, Ariel, and Joshua all watched with an excitement and a curiousness. I was watching it and getting sick. There was too much motion, spinning, colors, loud noises, the other children in the theater humming, talking, shouting, doing what they needed to do to help themselves. I tried very hard not to get up and start freaking out. I HAD to be ok for the kids.
It was too much though.
I was hit with the emotion of this being the first time that we have been able to see a movie together. I had joy for my kids, excitement because they got to experience something new, stress because I didn’t know how any of them were going to respond, especially Daniel. He could have started screaming and hitting at any second. The emotions from the movie itself. The first 10 minutes is very funny, happy, sad, and kind of despairing. But it was a good movie, what I saw of it anyway. Being it is our anniversary this Sunday it kind of choked me up because just having that intense moment of possibly loosing the love of my life and what would happen if he goes first.
I don’t want to think about that.
The noise was still very loud to me. I don’t know how loud it is in a normal theater we haven’t been in almost six years. I could barely take it and it was suppose to be softer. The lighting was much better though. So the noise from the movie and the noise from the children in the theater really made me nauseous. If you have not heard an autistic child or special needs in some way scream, shout or make a noise that is indescribable, there is no way to relate it – you have to hear it to know. I was hit with the emotion of all of all of the parents in that room with us who understand. They understand and we understand them. Not many people do unless they experience it. Having that sense of someone understanding our pain and joy was overwhelming for me.
My heart trumped my own sensory issues and I thanked God for my Daniel.
This may sound horrible but it is what I was feeling. I thanked God for Daniel’s issues. What I heard made me feel for the mothers and fathers who have the strength to help their child. We are blessed that Daniel has high functioning autism and the majority of his issues can possibly be outgrown as he gets older with work and therapy. Autism is much more complicated in certain ways that I can’t imagine. But for a moment I felt their pain. But I also felt their joy because in the midst of all of the noise and movie action there were voices singing loudly intangible but beautiful. One boy kept shouting out comments to the movie talking to the characters and it was awesome. At one point he turned around and I just smiled at him and he smiled back a huge grin and waved. I waved back and thought, what a gift.
I got to share a moment that most people never get to encounter.
A moment of being in the midst of some of the most loving, free, enjoyable children that the world cuts off. They are so special and we can learn so much from them. I learn so much from my children. Daniel has taught me to never give up and to not care what other people think. Thanks to him I have overcome a lot of social anxiety, fears, and phobias. He made me aware of what those were in my life and I am taking the steps to be free from those so I can help our children not suffer from any of them. My job is to instill in them how to be a critical thinker, enjoy life, be confident in who they are, and learn how to use their gifts to their full potential.
Daniel had to leave the theater.
However, he did leave the last five minutes and he chose to do so himself. That was awesome. As we were walking around the hallways, I was once again getting nauseous. I now know why we don’t go to the movies. All of the lights flickering, the music blaring, the sounds thundering, the carpet full of dizzying designs, the posters everywhere, people walking all around, the video games flashing and making noise, the concession area full of flashing advertisements, words tickering across the register screen and all the vibrant colors on the candy packages.
It is a sensory-sensitive person’s nightmare.
So now I am exhausted. I am drained and tired. I feel like I have been up for nights and my head is spinning. But – and I say BUT – this is a glorious day. Daniel is in the other room playing on the computer a phonics game and has not had a meltdown. HE is happy and talking even though he is completely overloaded. The meltdown may come and I am prepared for it but he sat in a movie theater watching a movie for an hour and a half. I cannot get him to watch a movie at home longer than 30 minutes usually. We do have rare occasions but this was a place filled with noise, different lights, and visual stimulation. Ariel and Joshua got to enjoy the experience and we didn’t have to leave. They are having some issues right now but over all they are doing very well also (brother and sister tiffs over toys). Both having a little overload meltdowns but not too bad.
I say this is a very incredible day!