Sensory Free Movie Showing at Cinemark 16

The first sensory free movie will be shown on the Coast this weekend, giving autistic children and children with similar challenges the chance to go to the movies without fear of being judged or criticized. News 25’s Katarina Luketich introduces us to a Pass Christian High School student who is responsible for putting this event together.
Most of us take going to the theater, buying some popcorn and enjoying a movie on the big screen for granted. It’s a luxury some children don’t have. Youngsters with autism are often shunned from movie theaters because their uncontrollable outbursts aren’t taken well in what’s supposed to be a quiet place. Lindsey Meyer, the organizer of the sensory free movie, said, “A lot of time, society thinks that we’re so accommodating and accepting but we really aren’t.”
Lindsey is a senior at Pass Christian High School. She worked with autistic children over the summer and came to realize it’s hard for them to do certain things in society, like going to a movie. “It was just really eye opening, like you don’t except all of this stuff to happen. They taught me so much more than I ever would have thought. You just realize little things in the day that are different for them than they are for you. Then I started hearing lots of stuff in the news about autistic kids being kicked out of movie theaters. I wanted to do something about it,” said Meyer.
So after many phone calls and a lot of rejection, Lindsey has paired up with Cinemark in Gulfport to show a sensory free showing of “Transylvania 2” this weekend. Sensory free means lights up, sound down and no “shushing,” a comfort zone of sorts that minimizes triggering factors where the audience can enjoy the experience without the fear of interrupting others.
Lindsey tells News 25 she’s happy to help in any way that she can, even in this small way. For many of the families who will come on Saturday, it’s giving them the chance to do something new. “I’ve had families telling me this is like a birthday party experience. This is their child’s first time coming to a theater. They’re really excited to have this opportunity,” said Meyer.
If this weekend goes well, it could lead into a monthly showing at the theater, the first of its kind on the Coast, which could, in the bigger picture, turn into a trend with far reaching effects, modifying everyday things for those who can’t enjoy them in the same way as the general public. “I would really like that,” said Meyer, “I’ve got some plans to make that happen, I’m excited about it.”
For now, Lindsey is focusing on Saturday’s sensory free showing, helping these kids experience something that we all consider normal in an accepting environment.
The sensory free showing of “Hotel Transylvania 2” will be at Cinemark 16 on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Pre-sale tickets can be purchased online or at the theater for the early bird price.

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