- Alex's Advice
- Family Fun
“DEAREST STUDENTS: My little brother is in Tampa on a business trip.
I am waiting until he gets back to see Avengers: Endgame.
That will be Wednesday night at the SOONEST.
DO NOT discuss ANYTHING about it anywhere near my classroom
UNTIL THIS SIGN COMES DOWN.”
So began a stern yet silly note posted by a teacher to warn his students about spoiling what has now proven to be the biggest movie release of all time -- Avengers: End Game. The note quickly went viral -- and for good reason. It reflects the need, and the anxiety, that surrounds many of us when looking forward to a cultural phenomenon like a highly-anticipated blockbuster movie.
I remember back in 2015 when the latest Star Wars movie was released. My son Eli was quite convincing (and more right than he knew!) when he begged, “Dad! How am I going to connect with my peers if you don’t take me to see The Force Awakens?”
And now today, there is a buzz in the halls at The Quaker School at Horsham. Because of our teachers’ dedication and diligence a few weeks ago, we were able to get opening weekend tickets to Avengers: End Game for a group of our middle-school students. It’s near the end of the year, and this is a reward for their hard work.
However, a movie is more than just entertainment: it is also a way for children with social skills deficits to connect with other kids.
Let’s face it, everyone is going to be talking about whether or not half the people in the Marvel Universe were turned to permanent space dust or not. For our children that have trouble initiating conversations, staying on topic, or conversing about a non-preferred task, giving them this conversation starter is like a slowball moving directly across the plate in a game that’s usually filled with 100-mph fastballs.
A trip to the movies, however, can be difficult for children who are affected by loud noises and lights, or those who have trouble regulating their behavior or emotions.
So how can you ensure a trip to the movies is enjoyable and successful for your child with complex challenges? Here are 6 things you can do to enjoy summer movie season with your child:
#1: Go during off hours.
During the busiest movie-going times, it can be difficult to get the best seats, you have to arrive earlier, and there is generally a lower tolerance for anxious talking or getting out of one's seat during the show. The 2 p.m. Sunday showing, in my experience, offers a calmer, less crowded experience and provides a longer runway for making mistakes.
#2: Find a sensory-friendly performance, if you can.
Regal Cinemas, for example, offers sensory-friendly screenings of popular kids movies. Its website explains: “Regal’s My Way Matinee gives everyone the opportunity to experience a movie with the lights turned up and the volume turned down. This becomes safe space where our guests are free to express themselves by singing, crying, dancing, walking around, talking or shouting while enjoying Hollywood’s latest films!”
#3: Buy your tickets online.
You may still have to wait in line to get into the theatre or to buy popcorn, but you can skip the ticket line by purchasing your tickets online. This also eliminates the unpleasant surprise of a movie being sold out.
#4: Bring your own snacks.
If your child has food allergies or dietary restrictions, don’t risk trying to find something acceptable (and affordable!) at the theatre. Bring your child’s favorite snacks, and ration them during the performance so they last the entire show.
#5: Don’t forget ear protection.
Many movie theatre bathrooms have loud hand dryers, so if your child is sensitive to that or to other theatre noises, bring ear protection.
#6: Create a Social Story.
Carol Grey’s Social Stories are a great way to prepare children for experiences and to accommodate what would otherwise be anxiety provoking surprises. Before heading to the movies, write a story about waiting in line and even watching the previews, so that your child is prepared to be patient before seeing their favorite Avenger.
Those are 6 ways to enjoy the next big blockbuster with your child with complex challenges -- but we want to hear from you! What are your best movie-going tips? Share them in the comments below, or over on Facebook.