Autism Friendly Screenings extended to show films for young adults and older audiences

19/11/2014 by

Films aimed at older people who experience autism and sensory differences are to be screened as part of a popular project run by national social care provider Dimensions. 

Autism Friendly Screenings for older audiences are being trialed at ten selected ODEON cinemas across the country to make cinemas even more accessible for people who experience autism. 

Dimensions, a not-for-profit support provider for people with learning disabilities and autism, runs monthly Autism Friendly Screenings in partnership with ODEON, Cineworld, Vue and Showcase at over 250 cinemas in the UK. With advice from Dimensions, the cinemas make adjustments to help ensure the experience is sensory friendly. Changes include adverts being omitted, the lighting being left on low and the volume turned down. 

The project is the largest scheme to offer Autism Friendly Screenings nationwide and first started with ODEON three years ago. In the main, the films are aimed at families – four take place monthly. It is now hoped the trial screenings for older audiences, which will take place in addition to the usual Sunday screenings, will be successful enough to expand. 

Currently the screenings for older audiences are being trialled at ten cinemas*. They will be screened on Monday evenings, once a month. The next Autism Friendly Screening for older audiences will be "The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (2D)" on Monday 15th December at 6pm. 

Lisa Hopkins, Executive Director of Practice Development at Dimensions, said: “We receive lots of great feedback from our Autism Friendly Screenings. Currently films screened on Sunday mornings are aimed at families, because they are our main audience. With the success of the screenings, people have asked us to expand the range of films shown because young adults and adults with autism want to see more age appropriate films.

“Research that we conducted earlier indicated that there is an appetite for a wider range of films – in particular, ones that are aimed at older audiences. We hope that, with the success of the trial, more screenings for older audiences will be available across the country and cinema will become more accessible for people with autism of all ages. 

“Dimensions is very focused on providing inclusive environments for people with autism and learning disabilities. This expansion of our partnership working will enable a wider variety of people to have more choice of films to watch and really enjoy being part of their community.” 

Andy Edge, ODEON Commercial Director commented, “We are delighted to be working with Dimensions to trial Autism Friendly Screenings for older audiences as we are committed to offering the best possible cinema experience for all our guests. We hope the wider range of screenings will enable more guests to enjoy films with ODEON and it is great to be a part of making activities across the UK more accessible for young people and adults with autism and other learning disabilities.” 

Autism Friendly Screenings have grown in popularity, with over 125,000 visits since it first began in 2011 at just 37 ODEON cinemas.

*The ten participating cinemas are: Birmingham Broadway Plaza, Blanchardstown, Cardiff, Glasgow Quay, Greenwich, Kensington, Sheffield, Southampton, Trafford Centre and Wimbledon.