Samantha Maskell, the Youth Services Librarian at the Rockingham Free Public Library recently hosted a successful Sensory Friendly Film Series. They had 11 people and their caretakers at the first film (hand picked to see how it would work), then the same audience as well as a few families with toddlers at the next. The ability to go in and out of the room also worked well, and some people needed to do that in order to take in the experience.
Here is some information on the program from her, as well as the flyer used:
This program is modeled after one that was launched by AMC (www.amcentertainment.com/) and The Autism Society of America (http://www.autism-society.org)
The things that set this film series apart from other film series is how you set it up:
- Lights need to be up – not bright, just make sure that the room isn’t dark
- Sound needs to be lower
- No one gets to say “shhhhhhh, other people are trying to watch the movie” instead, the audience gets to watch it in the way they’re most comfortable, whether it’s clapping, talking, singing, dancing, or something else – as long as no one is in danger – this needs to be in a time or place in your library when noise won’t be a problem.
- Be sure to skip previews and go straight to the movie
- Have an easy exit, sometimes members of this audience need a break from the movie – be prepared for them to come in and out.
- If you allow food, allow home-brought snacks or be prepared to provide gluten/casein-free snack options.
- Be sure you have permission to show films (http://www.movlic.com/library/)
- Be flexible
We also provided a Social Story for this event. The idea for the Social Story was provided by a high school teacher who works with autistic youth, they use social stories as ways to prepare some youths for what they’re going to encounter. Our social story is very simple, pictures of the Library, what they can do at the Library, the movie set-up, and the movie schedule.