The Twilight Theatre is pleased to be the first theatre to offer sensory-friendly screenings for the residents of southwest Kansas. At the time of publication of this post, the nearest theatre to offer such programming is located one hundred miles away in Wichita.

Sensory-Friendly Screenings are geared towards children and adults with autism or special needs and their families. The volume is turned down, and the lights will remain dim, but not dark. Attendees are free to roam the aisles, make noise, sing, move in an environment that is safe, friendly and free from judgement. Some families with small children enjoy attending these screenings because they don’t have to worry about disturbing their neighbors if their kids get restless. These afternoon weekend showings are a perfect opportunity for families who are traveling, some up to fifty miles, and it won’t break the bank since all matinee shows are $5 admission at the Twilight Theatre.

Boys First MovieMany parents have hesitated bringing their child to the movies out of fear of judgement should their child make noise or react to loud noises. At our first sensory-friendly screening, a family from Dodge City brought their son to experience the movies for his very first time. How cool is that?! The Twilight Theatre is committed to serving all audiences, including children with autism and special needs who want to experience the film and performing arts. Our plan is to offer sensory-friendly screenings for most, but not all, major animated and family-friendly films. Please be sure to check our website for upcoming screenings or sign up for our e-mail newsletter. As always, you can call our Showtimes Phone Line at 620.723.3210 to hear what films are playing and when.

If you’re interested in partnering or helping to underwrite this type of programming, please contact the business office at 620.723.1092.

september, 2017

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History of Sensory Friendly Films

From autism-society.org.

The concept of Sensory Friendly Films was born in 2007, when Marianne Ross, of Elkridge Maryland took her young daughter, Meaghan, to a matinee (at another theater chain) to see a movie starring one of her most beloved actors. She intentionally picked an early showing figuring there would be fewer people there, but when Meaghan, at that time seven years old, saw her main man on the big screen she began to flap her hands, dance, twirl and jump up and down. Unfortunately, a few other movie-goers complained to staff, and the manager asked the Ross’ to leave.

Marianne was frustrated, upset, and a bit angry – Meaghan was so happy and the movie-going experience ended up being so negative. It occurred to her that there were probably a lot of people who found themselves in a similar situation – or worse yet, didn’t even try to go see a movie for fear of the possible outcomes. The next day Marianne called her local AMC Theatre in Columbia Maryland. She asked if Dan Harris, the manager, would be willing to set up a special screening for children on the autism spectrum. Harris, not only took Marianne up on her suggestions, he made some additional adaptations to make the movie even more sensory-friendly. Marianne spread the word about the upcoming screening through her local Autism Society Affiliate and amazingly, 300 people showed up and they had to turn some people away becuase there was no more room in the movie auditorium.

Dan Harris didn’t stop there – he held three additional monthly sensory-friendly movies and contacted AMC’s headquarters to share the idea. At the corporate office Community-Relations Manager, Cindy Huffstickler, thought the concept was excellent and was surprised no one had thought of it before. Cindy contacted the Autism Society of America and the two companies joined forces and mobilized affiliates and theatres in towns all around the country. Those initial national test screenings proved to be just as successful as that first Maryland screening. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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