I hope that these 8 Tips for enjoying a movie with your autistic child will make watching a movie with your child with autism a little less stressful and a lot more fun!
Why can watching a movie with your autistic child be complicated?
- Sensory overload – your child may become overwhelmed by the sounds and bright lights in the movie theater.
- Lack of concentration – staying seated may be challenging for your child.
- Lack of choice – if your child has trouble communicating it may be difficult to understand if he or she is interested in the movie you are going to watch.
What can you do? 8 Tips for enjoying a movie with your autistic child
1. Decrease sensory overload. One of my favorite tools for children who suffer easily from sensory overload are these noise-blocking headphones.
2. Ease into the activity step by step. Watch 10 minutes, then 20 minutes, then 30 minutes…
3. Practice at home! Movie theaters can be loud and overwhelming. Practice watching movies at home before you head out for a movie night with your child at the cinema…
5. Have your child decide which movie you will watch (use visual support if necessary).
6. Give your child a way to opt-out of the experience. If your child would prefer to stop watching the movie, he or she should be able to make that request. You could teach your child to hand you a photo or use sign language to indicate that he or she wants to stop the movie, or leave the cinema, if necessary.
7. Provide a reinforcer. If going to a movie is more hard work and less a pleasant activity for your child with autism, go to the movie theater and provide a reinforcing activity when you leave. Some ideas? A reinforcer could be a fun sensory activity after the movie, a trip to a favorite place (such as the playground) or something else.
8. Give your child something to do while watching the movie. It may be easier for your child to stay seated and watch the movie, if he or she has a sensory item in hand or something else to hold and touch during the movie. You could make a homemade sensory box to have on hand during the movie or provide a fuzzy sensory tangle toy.
Which one of these 8 Tips for enjoying a movie with your autistic child will you put in place right away? Or will you use them all? Let us know in the comments!
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More Autism Resources
- The Successful Interaction with a Child with Autism Course – learn to better understand your autistic child or students with this complete course.
- Autism Activities Workbook Bundle – build communication skills, fine motor skills, sensory play skills and daily living skills, while helping your child or students to successfully manage any difficult behaviors, with these fun, educational, printable activities.
- Sensory Communication Workbook – Build communication skills with simple sensory activities.
- How to Make a Communication Binder Guide & Workbook – Learn how to create a Communication Binder for your child or student with autism using real photos. Follow my expert guide to learn how to use it to increase communication skills.
- Zoo Animals Play Dough Mats Bundle – use these printable play dough mat to work on the names of the animals, build language skills, and increase fine motor strength and precision in a fun, sensory way!
First published September 14, 2017. Last updated March 22, 2021 with more information, additional tips, and better readability.
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