Sensory-Friendly Movies

Have you seen sensory-friendly movies advertised?

boy at movie

Shhh…It’s movie time!

Do you wonder:

  • What do sensory-friendly films mean?
  • What is an autism-friendly screening?
  • What is a relaxed screening?
  • Are there sensory screenings?
  • What is a sensory-sensitive movie?
  • Are they all the same thing?

This article will answer those questions!

A sensory-friendly movie changes your sensory experience through what you hear and what you see, although the movie itself does not change. It’s your experience in the movie theatre that is changed.

Not every movie theatre will offer the same experience.  You can likely expect the house lights to be turned up and the soundtrack volume down.  To answer your question, sensory-friendly movies, sensory-friendly films, autism-friendly movies, sensory-sensitive movies, and sensory screenings do all mean the same thing.

What Else to Expect.

More often than not, sensory-friendly movies are for children so naturally there will be more children and families in the audience.  That can also mean increased noise and movement in the seats and the theatre.  In some instances, the movie theatre will allow people to bring their own food which can create additional noise of crinkling packaging.

Kids with parents at a Sensory friendly movie

Who Wants to See Sensory-Friendly Movies?

Many people take advantage of sensory-friendly movies, this includes both children and adults.  It may be that the adults have an underlying disorder, disability or difference where they experience sensory sensitivity.  Or maybe they just enjoy the adjusted ambiance.

However, having a disability does not mean you prefer these types of movies.  It just means you might.  For example, people with anxiety, autism, hearing loss, concussion or PTSD may have sensory sensitivity or experience sensory overload.  The loud movie soundtrack are bothersome and dark theatres with a bright screen are distressing. Some may not be bothered at all and could enjoy a sensory rich experience.

What Makes Movies More Accessible?

There are many small changes that make movies more accessible.  You may notice spots reserved for people who use wheelchairs.  Or, there could be special seats saved called companion seats. These are for the person(s) attending along with a person with a disability.  Perhaps accomodations have been made for people with a guide dog or service animal.

Changes to Audio

What is an audio DESC?  DESC stands for audio description.  It can also be called video description, or described video.  An audio description helps people with vision loss, low vision or who are blind. In these cases, the patron wears a special headset.  With help from the headset, they are able to hear the soundtrack and a narrator who describes what happens onscreen.  Mostly this happens during pauses but can happen over dialogue if needed.

You have likely experienced an audio description at some point.

Have you gone to a museum?  An art exhibit?  Perhaps you wore a headset that offered a personal audio tour instead of an actual tour guide.  As a result, you listened to information about the exhibit.  You experienced an audio description.

Another example of audio description might be at a sporting event.  When a sportscaster describes the play, that is also an audio description.

Audio description is not just used in the movies.

Closed Captions

Sometimes movies are screened at special showings.  A special showing may be held to include closed captions where they are shown to everyone, typically at the bottom of the movie screen.  Closed captioning is not just for people who have hearing loss, who are hard of hearing, or deaf.  Some people with learning disabilities like to read the dialogue.  It is similar to having subtitles, which could also assist someone whose first languge is different.

Some movie theatres have assistive listening eyeglasses.  These special glasses show closed captions projected on the lens. The person can both watch the movie and see the closed caption at the same time.

Movie theatres have also adopted hand held device technology that lets users read the closed caption on a small screen.

As we have learned, closed captions can be enjoyed by anyone.

Directed Sound

In another example, people wear sound-isolating headphones.  They might be noise-canceling headphones too. Specifically, they have the audio soundtrack going directly to their headphones.

Key Points to Remember About Sensory Friendly Movies

  • Not every sensory-friendly movie is the same experience.
  • The movie remains the same.
  • Changes occur in how you see and hear it.
  • The theatre has house lights turned on or up.
  • Many children and families are in the audience.
  • More sensory-friendly movies are for children.
  • The audience may be noisier.
  • The volume is not as loud.
  • People may be allowed to bring their own snacks.
  • Expect children to move around in their seats and the theatre.
  • Movie theatres may offer additional help:
    • Wheelchair seating
    • Closed caption devices
    • Closed caption movie screening
    • Audio description
    • Noise-canceling headphones.

Movie Theatres That Offer Sensory Friendly Movies

Here is a list of movie theatres we have found that offer sensory-friendly screenings.  They do not offer it for every movie they show.  A sensory-friendly movie at one cinema, may not be the same at another.  Remember, children’s movies are more likely to be sensory-friendly.

Empire Cinemas

Have you discovered a sensory-friendly movie theatre we do not have listed above?  Please tell us what is sensory-friendly in your community.  Because other families look for sensory-friendly movies too!

What Else Are Sensory Friendly Movies Called?

There are many phrases and key words that describe sensory friendly movies and we have done the detective work for you!

• Sensory cinema
• Sensory films
• Sensory movie theatres
• Sensory movies
• Sensory screening

• Assisted cinema
• Assisted films
• Assisted movie theaters
• Assisted movies
• Assisted screening

• Sensory-friendly cinema
• Sensory-friendly films
• Sensory-friendly movie theatres
• Sensory-friendly movies
• Sensory-friendly screening

• ATF means Autism Friendly
• Autism-friendly cinema
• Autism-friendly films
• Autism-friendly movie theatres
• Autism-friendly movies
• Autism-friendly screening (AFS)

• Family-friendly cinema
• Family-friendly films
• Family-friendly movie theatres
• Family-friendly movies
• Family-friendly screening

• Sensory-Friendly Special Needs cinema
• Sensory-Friendly Special Needs films
• Sensory-Friendly Special Needs movie theatres
• Sensory-Friendly Special Needs movies
• Sensory-Friendly Special Needs screening

• Kid-friendly cinema
• Kid-friendly films
• Kid-friendly movie theaters
• Kid-friendly movies
• Kid-friendly screening

• Sensory-relaxed cinema
• Sensory-relaxed films
• Sensory-relaxed movie theatres
• Sensory-relaxed movies
• Sensory-relaxed screening

• Relaxed cinema
• Relaxed films
• Relaxed movie theatres
• Relaxed movies
• Relaxed screening

• Sensory-sensitive cinema
• Sensory-sensitive films
• Sensory-sensitive movie theatres
• Sensory-sensitive movies
• Sensory-sensitive screening

• Special Needs cinema
• Special Needs films
• Special Needs movie theatres
• Special Needs movies
• Special Needs screening

Help to find sensory-friendly movies.

It’s a long list, but there is a quick solution! You can find sensory-friendly events, places, products, and services by clicking here. Remember to also look in the FREE Sensory-Friendly Finder.