To mark World Autism Awareness Month, not-for-profit Dimensions has partnered with major entertainer brands to organise a raft of autism friendly events across the month in Cardiff.
These activities coincide with research from Dimensions showing the vital importance of autism friendly environments for people with autism, and their loved ones.
Elements of a traditional cinema screening can discourage visits from people with autism, 80% of whom have felt excluded from their local community. Their top concerns include too much noise, having to sit through adverts and trailers, and worrying about being judged by others.
Dimensions, the national autism and learning disability support provider which pioneered autism friendly initiatives in cinemas nationwide, has ramped up their partnership with the UK Cinema Association and BFI Film Audience Network (FAN), supported by National Lottery funding, to develop free autism friendly training resources for all cinemas and cinema staff across the country.
Autism friendly screenings are intended to open up cinemas and cinema-going to people with autism, and may help people with autism transition into attending traditional screenings.
The following autism friendly cinema screenings will take place in Cardiff in April:
- Dumbo on Sunday 7th April at 11:00am
- Missing Link on Friday 12th April at 11:00am
- Dumbo on Sunday 14th April at 10am
- Missing Link on Sunday 28th April at 10am
ODEON Cardiff (The Red Dragon Centre)
- Capitan Marvel on Tuesday 2nd April at 17:00
- Instant Family on Wednesday 3rd April at 14:20
- The Lego Movie 2 on Thursday 4th April at 12:30
Autism friendly adjustments include the lights left on low, the volume turned down, no trailers and the freedom for visitors to move around freely within the cinema screen, allowing people to enjoy the cinema experience in a relaxed and inclusive environment.
Additionally, Belong by GAME gaming arena in Cardiff is opening early each day of the week (at 9:30), to give more chance of access during quieter times. GAME are also offering a deal of 3 hours of gaming for £10, so participants get an extra hour for free.
Sarah Clarke, Campaign Manager at Dimensions, said:
“Most people don’t have to think twice about going to the cinema, but if you have autism it can be a stressful experience. With 80% having felt excluded from society, we know how important autism friendly environments are in tackling this issue.
“We’ve been campaigning for years for more autism friendly environments and we’ve seen first-hand how successful these initiatives can be. But there is still a lot of work to be done.
“We found that over 90% of people with autism would go to the cinema more if there were more autism friendly opportunities. With our new training, we’re calling on every cinema in the UK to become autism friendly, to ensure current and potential guests feel welcome and valued, and – in turn – help make society more inclusive.”
Lauren, 18, has autism and helped produce the training. She said:
“Film is a real passion of mine and I am proud to have helped develop this training with Dimensions. Autism friendly cinema screenings help people feel more relaxed and confident, so you can fully immerse yourself in the film without worrying about being judged.
“It also means so much to families and friends, who can relax and spend quality time together instead of feeling like they have to stay home. It’s so important that there are more autism friendly environments across the UK so everyone can benefit.”
The initiative is part of a wider Dimensions campaign to create more autism friendly environments around the UK. Dimensions has also launched a range of free training resources for libraries, museums and Belong by GAME stores to encourage a widespread perception change and ensure more public spaces across the UK are autism friendly.