UK cinema operators have come together to host the first ever national week of Autism Friendly Screenings in support of World Autism Awareness Day.

On Wednesday 2 April, a week of Autism Friendly Screenings will be launched at Odeon Studios, Leicester Square with a preview screening of Rio 2 courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.

Autism Friendly Screenings of Rio 2, as well as The Walt Disney Studios’ Muppets Most Wanted, will take place around the country between Wednesday 2 April and Tuesday 8 April. To date over 600 screenings have been confirmed, with participation by Odeon Cinemas, Cineworld Cinemas, Vue Entertainment, Natl Amusements UK (Showcase Cinemas), Empire Cinemas and Picturehouse Cinemas, amongst others.

Reduced sound levels, increased lighting and advert-free content will allow this audience group, their families and carers to be comfortable and feel fully included in the unique experience of a trip to the cinema. 

Claire Lockwood, who along with her husband and daughter Jodie has been going to Autism Friendly Screenings for the last two years, said:

“The screenings are wonderful. When I first went I couldn’t believe how relaxed the atmosphere was. Jodie jumps up and down in her seat and laughs when she’s excited so it’s great she can do that and we don’t have to discourage her.

She really loves it and it’s good to find something she enjoys. Because she’s had good experiences she knows what to expect when we say ‘cinema’.”

Lisa Hopkins, Executive Director of Practice Development at Dimensions, said the screenings are an element of the organisation’s focus to provide more inclusive environments for people with autism.

Lisa said:

“We are proud of the way that Autism Friendly Screenings have been received and continue to grow. This has allowed thousands of people who would have previously been excluded from the cinema environment to enjoy watching films. This has only been made possible through the continued support of our cinema partners.”

Cinemas already running Autism Friendly Screenings have found that they can be a great way to bring people back to the cinema. Over the last year or so, an increasing number of UK cinema operators have begun programming Autism Friendly Screenings for their local communities. World Autism Awareness Day provides an ideal opportunity to celebrate that fact as well as to look forward to more cinemas joining in.

These screenings are the latest example of the sector’s ongoing commitment to be as inclusive as possible to find different ways to meet the needs of disabled customers.

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A full list of confirmed screenings can be found at Your Local Cinema .Com.