At The Movies

When my son was younger, the movie theater was just too intense for him.

The screen was huge, the noise piercing, and the action so very intense.  And, of course, the previews capture the most action-packed, exciting parts of the movies, so he’d end up huddled on his chair, hands clapped over his ears, eyes squeezed shut, completely overwhelmed before the movie even started.

There’s nothing quite like the movie experience, is there?

I’d known, of course, that movies were hard on my husband.  He completely refused to attend them on a Friday or Saturday night.  Often, if he really wanted to see a movie in the theater, he’d plan it for his day off, a rainy day, or late on a Tuesday or Wednesday night.

But he loved the theater experience.  It was the people who got to him.

For my son, it was a different story.  His senses – sight, hearing – just couldn’t handle the assault.

Since these same senses, in addition to an extreme sensitivity to touch, were causing him to shut out the world and turn inward all of the time, this was a big deal.  We had to help him learn to cope, or he wasn’t going to have a normal life.

We’d already been told, of course, that he couldn’t handle school.  That he could no longer be considered “mainstream,” and that he’d have to attend a different school the next year.

Here’s where my son turned around.

To this day, I don’t know for sure whether it was all of our help, various therapies, or whether his brain was just plain ready.  For all I know, he needed a combination of the three.  I think it’s impossible to know these things sometimes.

In the fifth grade, he opened up to the world around him to an extent we hadn’t seen before.  He heard his name when teachers called on him.  He noticed his surroundings, not as often or to the extent as other children, but he noticed them.

It was an amazing time.

And he was able to attend a normal school.  Oh, he had issues; of course he did.  About half his teachers loved him and the other half complained and couldn’t wait to get rid of him.  Of course, none of them had seen him the year before, so how could they have known how far he’d come?  Sometimes it’s hard to see beyond current challenges to the wow! of progress.

Sixth grade brought even more growth and change.  He made actual friends for the first time, and noticed things in his environment that even I didn’t see.  His eyes changed from dull and unfocused to sharp and intelligent.

So yesterday, when we went with the grandparents to see the last Harry Potter movie – in the theater – it felt wonderful, like an affirmation of all the progress we’ve worked so hard for.  A complete turnaround from overwhelmed and shut down to alert and eager participant.

We even sat through all the ads and previews.  And he still loved it.

We don’t always take the time to remember the progress.  Sometimes, it’s hard to rise above today’s frustration and issues to see the growth that’s occurred, the tremendous strides that have been made.

But yesterday, sitting in that freezing movie theater next to my son, it was lovely to remember and savor the moment.  To feel the pride and wonder at how far we’ve come.

Oh, yes, and the movie was fun, too.  😉

Related Posts:

TV & Movies: Keys to Conversation
Difficulties With Sound
Tactile Sensitivity: Ack, Get It Off!
A Calm Place
Visually Busy

About aspergerfamily3

Living in an Asperger's World, surrounded by a love of learning, interesting people, and daily challenges.
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4 Responses to At The Movies

  1. Your post gives me hope! Thank you!

  2. Wendela says:

    What a wonderful breakthrough to celebrate! Movie theaters are certainly intense as a sensory experience. Congratulations to your son for his breakthrough!

    In Los Banos, Merced County, a mom organized Autism Morning at the Movies events. The theater agreed to open early before their usual hours of business, just for families affected by autism and other related coditions. They keep the small running lights turned on so it’s never completely dark, and they also keep the volume turned down to a more tolerable level. Parents feel comfortable, because if their child has a “melt down,” or squeals with delight, or flaps his hands or spins around in the aisle, they know for certain that everyone else in the theater truly understands, and in fact has been there themselves. Some parents shared that they used to love going to the movies with the family, but since the child with autism was born, they no longer feel they can take their family out to public, social events. Autism Morning at the Movies makes it possible for them.

    Thank you for sharing about your son’s success with movie theaters ~ it is so inspiring!

    • Elisabeth says:

      What a wonderful idea! I hope that other areas have/consider something similar! And AF3- I’m so glad that he could enjoy the movie!

  3. Autism at the movies – what a lovely idea! Definitely needs passing on.

    Of course, my house would have a meltdown – finally got my computer set up in a temporary location until the usual room has been fixed – so that I couldn’t see these comments in anything like a timely manner.

    Thank you for your understanding… I truly wasn’t ignoring anyone.

    Thank you, Elisabeth, as always for your comments. Just seeing your smiley redhead avatar makes me smile.

    And thank you, Barbara, for your encouragement. What a gift!

    Things will be sporadic for another week or so until the spare bedroom/computer room/sewing room receives its new carpeting. Then everything goes back in, and life can trundle along like usual. Internet withdrawal is not a pretty thing!

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