Kids With Autism Get Big-Screen Break

Today’s mainstream movie experience can be big, bold and loud — driven by 3-D, IMAX and surround-sound technologies and designed to immerse audiences in a fictional world.

But that can sometimes be too much for children with autism, who can have difficulty communicating, reading social cues and tolerating sensory stimulation others take for granted — everything from attending a birthday party to going to the movies.

Renee Hill says the huge screen, darkened room and loud soundtrack often overwhelm her 4-year-old son, Weston, who otherwise loves watching videos.

“You’ll constantly notice him look uncomfortable and cover his ears, but if he really gets overwhelmed, then he’ll just shut down and have a meltdown and start to cry,” Hill explains.

As the national rate of autism diagnoses climbs, parents and advocates have persuaded some theaters to tone it down.

A number of theaters across the country now hold sensory-friendly movie showings to accommodate those with autism: The house lights stay on, the sound remains low, and there are no ads or previews before films. The screenings are beginning to catch on.

The sensory-friendly trend started two years ago, after a Maryland mother got kicked out of a movie theater when her autistic daughter became overwhelmed and disruptive during a showing of Hairspray. The mom got in touch with the Autism Society, a national advocacy group, which in turn contacted the AMC theaters chain about offering a low-key movie option once a month.

via IMAX’d Out: Kids With Autism Get Big-Screen Break : NPR.

Autistic Children Slower to Integrate Multiple Stimuli

Children with autism spectrum disorders are slower at integrating various types of sensory information than those with a more typical development, researchers reported.

The finding — based on recordings of electrical activity in the brain — is concrete evidence that children with autism spectrum disorders process information differently than typical children, according to Sophie Molholm, PhD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues.

via Medical News: Autistic Children Slower to Integrate Multiple Stimuli – in Pediatrics, Autism from MedPage Today.