News Article Details

Halloween movie screening in New Albany accommodates for sensory sensitivity

The Evening News and The Tribune - 10/12/2018

Oct. 12--NEW ALBANY -- Karen Ricci's daughter, Lydia, was born with sensory issues. She was on the autism spectrum and enjoyed the feeling of deep pressure, avoided certain food textures and would be upset by some noises.

Ricci, who lost Lydia in 2005, said she made sure to see the beauty in each day with her daughter, but life wasn't without its challenges. Lydia struggled in different, sometimes surprising, settings such as Chuck E. Cheese, Steak 'n Shake, the dentist's office or Great Clips. When she found places where her daughter could play without being overstimulated it gave her the chance to have fun and show her friends what made her happy.

A New Albany theater is taking steps to provide an environment where children like Lydia can enjoy some of the things others may take for granted.

Regal New Albany Stadium 16, 300 Professional Court, off Charlestown Road in New Albany, is offering a showing of the latest "Goosebumps" movie with sensory sensitivity in mind. The 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, showing of "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween" will air with the house lights on, volume lowered and will allow viewers to move and dance as they see fit.

The theater is one of just three in the state and 64 in the country that is showing a "My Way Matinee."

The special showing provides something treasured by parents like Ricci: accessibility.

"Every child needs to have those experience, every child should be able to go to the movies and have that experience at the theater," Ricci said. "Every parent wants to be able to take their kid to the movie without [being] worried about what the person in the next seat is going to think."

Events like "My Way Matinee" are a good way to normalize sensory sensitive conditions, according to Lucinda Woodward, assistant professor of psychology and International Studies at IU Southeast.

Sensory integration disorder can stand on its own or be paired with an ADHD or autism diagnosis, according to Woodward. Children with a disorder could be sensitive to lights, sounds, textures or any combination, according to Woodward. The challenges these children face range from attachment disorders (if they dislike touch, it's hard to establish a strong parental bond) to social isolation (these children can dislike "typical" children games, such as making mud pies, and sports). They can also struggle in the classroom and be misdiagnosed with a learning disorder simply because they are too overwhelmed to learn, according to Woodward.

She said this is the first time she's heard of a business recognizing the disorder.

"This is huge in terms of normalizing a condition that I think more people probably have than we're even aware of," she said. "It's just tremendous in terms of normalizing this for parents and normalizing for kids and accommodating them."

Woodward also said that it is one way to improve the sensory sensitivity. An early diagnosis, as young as 2 years old, paired with occupational can vastly improve the diagnosis.

"The secret is to do exactly what this movie theater is doing," Woodward said. "Expose them to low levels of stimulation to help them build that ability [to accommodate changes in stimuli]. You can work with it, the brain is so plastic when people are young you can eventually build it."

Erin Walden is the education reporter at the News and Tribune. Contact her via email at or by phone at 812-206-2152. Follow her on Twitter: @ErinWithAnEr.


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