Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Why autism-friendly events are important

Anthony walks near a complex

Going out with my kids is usually a little challenging, but we are getting better at it.  It's not so long ago that the idea of going out on my own with our three kids meant I'd stay inside instead.  After all the kids are fine in the house and it's only later they struggle after being in all day.

Anthony can appear a bit odd to people with the way he talks and jumps about but the main issue is that David doesn't understand some of the basic safety rules about going outside our family home. Up until recently he didn’t understand about holding hands – indeed he completed resisted it. Every road, car, doorway was a dangerous exit point.

More than not understanding about safety, he still doesn’t understand about how to act around other people in public. He doesn’t know why people don’t like it when he shouts out or stands up in the cinema or jumps up and down by his chair in a restaurant. And even if he did realise, there is no way he could stop.  It's part of balancing his sensory system that means David needs to do this.  So, screaming and unpacking toys in supermarkets makes perfect sense to David.

There are several autism friendly services - including the autism friendly cinema screenings via Dimensions that I love. Many cinemas across the UK show a film each month under ‘autism-friendly’ conditions. The lights are on a little so it’s easier to see, the volume is down a bit so it’s not such an impact on the senses. Generally people are more relaxed about what others are doing, more understanding. I think there are many people and kids who may benefit from this type of relaxed screening - not just those with the particular diagnosis of autism.

We can take David to these showings which is great because both his brother and sister love movies and the experience of going to the cinema.

There are approximately 1 in 100 people who are autistic. At my local cinema there is over 120 showings of movies just weekend – but there is only one autism friendly screening each month in the same cinema.

Nearly 11,000 businesses across the UK took part 'Autism Hour' last year. This initiative from the National Autistic Society (NAS) saw lights dimmed, background music reduced, and staff gain an understanding of autism.   This year's Autism Hour is just over two weeks away.  I'm delighted that autism awareness and acceptance is growing in our country, but then it's often just one hour of one day.

You might think given my ‘only one hour’ and ‘only one screening’ comments that I’m disheartened.

Perhaps a bit true, but overall, I'd disagree.

Sure, I'd absolutely love more, but every single one of these events increases the chance that my children may end up being able to function in society. And I'm glad for it.

This weekend, Horrid Henry is an autism-friendly screening at Vue cinema's across the country. Some people may see this screenings advertised and may perhaps get a small clue into what helps my kids.   Some people may see kids like mine in the cinema, jumping while standing in the queue for snacks or tickets, and be a little more aware.

In two weeks, Autism Hour, across shops and businesses may highlight the idea to others.  Indeed, many businesses who tried the single Autism Hour last year have decided to initiate them on a regular basis.  The Entertainer for example run one every Saturday morning. All these events might just have an overall impact that means society, slowly, becomes more accessible for them too.

In meantime, we'll be taking advantage of the autism-friendly things we can get to and use.  And fingers crossed we'll get to see more popping up.


This post included a giveaway which has now closed.

Conditions: UK  Residents only. Entrants must be aged over 18.  Entry is via Rafflecopter.  Entries can be made up until midnight on Wednesday 25th September 2019.  One winner will be chosen from all valid entries at random the day after closing.  The winner will be contacted by 9am after the close and have until 9pm Thursday 26th September 2019 to reply. The Prize is one £20 Vue Cinema Gift Card (sent direct).  No cash alternative. 

25 comments:

  1. Yes.It helps people to understand the condition better

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  2. Absolutely, it means we are around people who understand "our world".

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  3. Absolutely, helps people understand a peoples needs better

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  4. Yes parents of autistic children need more help and understanding

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  5. Yes, it helps people have a better understanding of Autism x

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  6. Margaret Clarkson
    Yes, it is necessary for people with Autism to feel included

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  7. Yes! It's very inspirational

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  8. Yes, as there are a host of theatres, museums and event spaces offering relaxed, fun experiences for children and families to enjoy together.

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  9. Yes and I think there should be significantly more of them as not only would this encourage integration (Some might choose such an event just because it fit their plans rather than because they had a child with autism) it would also give families an opportunity to avoid such events and (maybe) have a more peaceful time. My father worked with severe autism for many years and I've worked with children in residential settings with other complex needs and we both agree that often it is those in the immediate vicinity who suffer the consequences of more socially unacceptable behaviours and although as carers we get to choose where to take them other families don't get to choose to avoid and are only left with abandoning a family event (potentially one that is rare, expensive, special etc) or put up with the experience. We have both also worked with individuals whose behaviour could be dangerous - a young man who liked things to behave as they ought and babies ought to cry...a momentary lapse by a care staff member meant a 30 year old man banging on the plastic cover of a pushchair to make the baby cry...pretty traumatic for mum and baby. These experiences make me wary of unusual, unpredictable behaviour in others. You might know your child is completely safe with others, that their screaming is them calming and not escalating as might be the perception, but I might not necessarily see or understand so I'm sorry too that I might be the mum who is sadly packing up and moving - equally when my daughter is bigger and I'm more confident she would be able to make safe choices I would be happy to attend autism friendly events with her and hope she grows up to be inclusive and understanding of others.

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  10. absolutley a great idea, my son has autism so these screenings have been fab x

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  11. Yes i do think they are a good idea because everyone deserves to be themselves without being judged by small minded individuals

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  12. Yes i do think they are a good idea because everyone deserves to be themselves without being judged by small minded individuals

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  13. To educate people. To have a space where individuals feel safe and calm. So it encourages inclusion and maybe give others a chance to experience something different

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  14. My foster daughter is has asd and it is so important that there are events that she can tolerate and enjoy

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  15. Yes my grandson is on the autism spectrum

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  16. Kim W - cloud9 definitely. parents won't feel so stressed. Great idea.

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  17. I have worked as a carer; having this resource is wonderfully informative and insightful.

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  18. Definitely a good thing all children need to enjoy themselves and feel comfortable

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  19. I think the events are fantastic! Hopefully they are becoming a norm now.

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  20. Yes they are a great idea, its lovely to have access to information and other people to chat to

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  21. These are amazing ideas and would love to see more

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  22. Yes ! Helps allay fears - great for all the family

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  23. Yes definitely. too many years have gone by without enough understanding of the condition and how and if it can be helped or how to manage

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  24. I do very much so as some places can be a real sensory overload so it can make it much more relaxed for autistic kids.

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  25. I think you're right that there are some autism friendly events, but not many. Or at least not as many as there should or could be. It's really important, because why shouldn't everyone have the chance to experience new things. I'm glad to see that the cinema's are taking this onboard. Thank you for joining us for the #DreamTeam xx

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I read all your comments and appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me and our readers. I welcome any feedback on my posts and you can always contact me directly. Thank you.

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