How To Take Kids With Sensory Processing Disorder To the Movies

Many relaxing real-world situations can become the exact opposite for children with Sensory Processing Disorder (or SPD). Everything is a little bit more difficult for parents whose children suffer from SPD because each new situation represents a question mark. School, church, and other social gatherings can be especially difficult. These places are filled with unexpected sights, smells, and sounds. What about the movies?

Some parents will inevitably avoid this activity for fear of their child experiencing sensory overload. Sometimes, there are options.

  1. Depending on where you live, it’s possible that there might be “sensory-friendly” movie screenings. These screenings are specifically for children with special needs and their parents, and it’s expected that people will be filtering in and out of the theater. The sound is turned to a lower setting than most movies, and the lights are kept on. In addition, children won’t need to feel confined. They can get out of their seat and move around all they like.
  2. A lot of kids with SPD do well with noise-canceling headphones. You can make a kit for situations just like these. What calms your child down? Put those items in the kit. A fidget spinner or silly putty sometimes works like magic.
  3. Although it might seem over-the-top, try replicating the movie theater experience at home. No, you don’t need to decorate, but it might help to dim the lights, turn up the volume, and invite a few people over for a movie night. If your child does really well in this situation, then it might be a good time to try the real thing.
  4. Your child’s needs won’t necessarily be anything like another child’s needs, so be sure to take them into consideration when choosing your child’s seat. If your child hates crowds or doesn’t like to stay seated for long periods of time, then an aisle seat near the exit might be the best way to go.
  5. Avoid going to the movies at night. Daytime movies are often less crowded, so it’s less likely you won’t be able to find the right seat for your child.
  6. Neither you nor your child should feel any obligation to stay if one of you isn’t going to have fun for the duration. Make sure your child knows that he or she has the power to tap your shoulder and leave at any time.