No. Really. The theater we take Maura to, the one where we saw “Frozen” three times, the one where her teenage siblings go to see all the movies, needs some sensitivity training.
I spotted a post in my area special needs parenting group from another mom. She decided “Finding Dory” would be a good first movie theater experience for her son with ASD.
She was wrong.
“We went to Regal Cinemas [Eastside Seattle] to see finding dory in 3D (6/21/2016) for the 7:20pm showing. The theater wasn’t crowded at all, and we chose seats away from most of the people so we wouldn’t bother anyone and could leave easily if need be. A. has autism, though I believe it’s high functioning autism, as he’s really low on the spectrum. He’s 3.5 years old. The manager came up to us and told me that he’d gotten several complaints about my son and that if I couldn’t keep him under control then we would need to leave. A. was moving around and switching seats a lot, but no one was in the nearby seats and we were low enough in the stands that people couldn’t see too well. He was excited when characters would come on the screen so he would be a little loud but I would shush him and have him come sit down. He even rolled on the floor for his sensory needs because he was a little overwhelmed. But he wasn’t being that disruptive, compared to so many children I’ve seen in theaters. After we left, the friends we’d come with ended up staying and she called me after the showing to tell me that after we left someone brought an infant in who was crying and being more disruptive than A. but nothing was done about them, so we were singled out.”
That’s right – they were told he had to be quiet and still, or leave.
The children’s movie.
Made for children.
The children’s movie about a fish with disabilities.
They were given a refund but, according to the mother – “I just felt so judged for A’s diagnosis and that I’m a failure of a mom.” She thought he was doing so well, being pretty quiet and all. But instead of his first movie experience being a fun outing, it’s left this mother feeling horrible.
Great job Regal.
Forget the autism part – 3.5 yr old kids don’t sit well. My mom would say “You have to choose between quiet or sitting still, little kids can’t do both.” I mean, I’m sure some can, but as a general rule, they can’t.
But that’s supposed to be part of the package when you go see a kid’s movie – that there will be kid’s there. When I asked the mom if the people who complained had kids with them, she said “Not that I could see! It looked like it was just a few adults sitting together.”
Okay, so this is making even more sense – adults go to a kid’s movie and get annoyed by kids being kids. Well, at least this one kid. They didn’t seem to have a problem with any other child there, not even a crying baby.
This is where my fellow parents and I get our panties twisted. We’re told to expose our children to places and experiences, that we shouldn’t hide our kids…but at the same time, when we do take our kids out, we get looks, stares, unsolicited advice, complaints that we can’t control our children properly, and sometimes even kicked out.
In a world where we’re supposed to embrace diversity, we don’t feel welcomed. We feel judged. We do our best to ignore it and carry on, but we know there are those who don’t want us out there.
And right now, I’m torn. Our Regal Cinema – this one where this incident happened – does cheap summer movies. Maura LOVES going to the movies. But she’s loud. She laughs loudly at the funny scenes, squeals with excitement, bounces up and down in her seat.
But if a little boy with autism is asked to leave the theater while watching a kid’s movie about a fish with disabilities...well…how am I supposed to feel anything but worry if I take my loud, laughing, bouncy daughter with disabilities to that same theater?
I have asked Regal what their policies are regarding children/people with special needs and am waiting for an answer.
A friend and awesome mom suggested this. I think Regal and Disney should listen to her – “I’d love to see Disney and/Ellen DeGeneres make a PSA to show at the start of the film to prevent such things and to use the film as a platform for disability rights. How would one go about something like that? In reality, one voice complaining to a movie theater is like a drop in the ocean and won’t be heard.”