Autism and The Movie Theater

For years, going to the movies was a non-existing part of our lives. Carter would talk too loud or even have a meltdown from something that he didn’t like. He would get bored or scared, and at times not even walk into the theater at all. To be completely honest, at one point we didn’t attempt the process at all. We would wait until we would go home to Tennessee and visit family. Then we would just have a mommy and daddy date at the movies. However, things have changed quite drastically. Autism and movies is no longer a challenge for us!

Autism and Movie Theaters
Carter and Kinley getting ready for Captain Marvel

When we received our Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders from Jacksonville NC to Chesapeake VA, we discovered the Cinema Café. Big seats with a meal and a movie, who wouldn’t like that. You can reserve your seating online, and guarantee the movie and where you sit. This prevents meltdowns by taking expectations and making them a reality. They also provide headphones for children in case the movie gets too loud. For us, it was a game changer, and Carter loves going to the movies as often as he can talk us into it. For those that know Carter, his go-to meal throughout the day is chicken and fries, and he could eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For him, it’s like going to an eating store with a large television screen (he calls all restaurants eating stores lol). There are a few times when something scares him, but we can easily talk him through it and offer him his noise cancelling headphones to calm him down. For us, the Cinema Café is great, and allows the entire family to enjoy a meal and the newest movie instead of waiting for it to come out on DVD. Even Kinley is a huge fan, who won’t ever say no to an outing at the theater. However, there is something that is important to talk about that I believe is the moral here.

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Before coming to Virginia, it would be safe to say that we eventually assumed Carter was just not meant to go to the movies around loud noises and bright lights. We accepted the routine, and stuck with it. However, we couldn’t be more wrong, and we are ecstatic that we took that chance at the Cinema Café. You always want what is best for your child, but sometimes you get to a point where you decide certain things are not worth it. For example, after Carter’s brain surgeries in 2011, his left side of his body was paralyzed and he immediately needed physical and occupational therapy to regain strength and relearn how to walk again. So riding a bike was never a point on our mind, we was just assumed that it would not happen. How wrong we were.

This was a bad parenting moment for us, as we decided for him what his limitations were, instead of working with him to discover his strengths. To this day, we still are having difficulties with him riding a bike, as we waited too long to work with him. However, what a fun and interesting experience with Carter to learn what strengths he has and what amazing talents he has hidden throughout his persona. By not restricting him for fear of injury or him to be embarrassed or defeated, we are allowing him to discover himself what he can do and adding self-confidence. He even rode his first upside down roller coaster at Dollywood (link) last week.

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