SNP welcomes autism-friendly cinema screenings


By a Newsnet reporter   
SNP MSP Mark McDonald has welcomed an announcement by Vue cinemas they plan to introduce autism-friendly screenings in all of their theatres in Scotland.
Coinciding with the sixth annual World Autism Awareness Day, the announcement will see autism-friendly screenings on the last Sunday of every month in all Vue Scottish cinemas and most others throughout the rest of the UK and Ireland.

The special screenings are designed to make the cinema experience more relaxing for individuals with autism. The volume is lowered, there are no trailers before the film and lights are kept on during the screening. Cinemagoers are able to move freely around the cinema and to bring in their own food and drink into the screen.
Mr McDonald wrote last month to all cinema companies operating in Scotland asking them to consider putting on regular autism-friendly screenings after attending one such screening at a cinema in Aberdeen.
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.
Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support. People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.
Asperger’s syndrome is a form of autism.  While many of those with autism have a learning disability, people with Asperger’s typically have normal or above normal intelligence, but often have severe difficulties understanding the normal nuances of speech and body language.
Autism and related disorders are believed to affect an estimated 50,000 people in Scotland.  The numbers diagnosed with the condition have risen in recent years, with much of the rise believed to be due to better diagnosis.
Mr McDonald, SNP MSP for North East Scotland, has put forward a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling on Holyrood to support World Autism Awareness Day and to promote understanding of the condition and the needs of those affected by it.
Commenting, Mr McDonald said:
“I am delighted that Vue have announced their plans to hold monthly autism friendly screenings in Scotland.
“As far as I am aware, they are the first cinema chain to commit to regular screenings and I am very pleased that every month, individuals with autism will be able to pop along to their local Vue cinema and enjoy the full cinema experience in a friendly and accommodating environment.
“I believe it’s really important that companies like cinema chains do their bit to create a welcoming environment for people with autism, who can find the darkness and noise of the usual cinema screen unsettling.
“It is particularly fitting that this announcement was made on World Autism Awareness Day and I hope this move encourages other cinemas and entertainment companies to follow suit.
“The recent autism friendly screening I attended in Aberdeen was a great example of a business making changes to enable people with autism to share in the cinematic experience and I hope this is something we can build upon in future. I look forward to attending autism friendly screenings regularly with my family in the future.”