Richard and I took our boys to see Kung Fu Panda 3 this weekend. Taking our boys to the cinema is always a bit risky and if we can go all four we try to do it and not just one of us with the two boys.
A couple of years ago, while Richard was travelling I took the boys to see Paddington, or should I say I tried to take them. Both had said they wanted to go, but as we got there, Harry just decided that No, he wasn’t going. I will never know what made him change his mind, but he blankly refused to even enter the cinema. He ended up having a complete meltdown outside and my only option was to tell Joshua that I’m sorry but we can’t go in. Joshua, who really wanted to go and had his heart set on in, got really upset and started screaming and crying how unfair it was and why should Harry always get his way? I tried to explain that it just wasn’t doable, I couldn’t have Harry in the cinema in complete meltdown mode! But Joshua of course didn’t understand that, so there I am, with both boys crying their eyes out and I can’t please any of them! We ended up going home of course, and I felt like a complete failure as a mum.
Last summer we took them to see Jurassic World, it was the first ‘grown up’ movie we’ve taken them to see and they were both so excited to see it. We made it in to the theatre, and we occupied Harry with a tub of popcorn so he would sit still which worked quite well, but about half way through, Joshua leans over to me and whispers: “I’m a bit bored”
This is a action packed movie filled with cool dinosaurs running rampage! How can he be bored?!
But to look at it from an autistic point of view, it is a lot going on, in fact too much. People on the autistic spectrum can’t filter all of lives inputs like us ’neurotypical’ can. They see, hear, feel, smell everything and have trouble sorting the informations as to whats important and whats not. So in an action packed movie like that, it is simply to much input. Sensory overload. His brain had had enough and he couldn’t see the forrest for all the trees anymore. Hence the boredom.
A few years ago, Richard took both boys on his own to the cinema. This was quite early on on our autism journey and we didn’t quite understand how they experienced the world, so this was before we knew the importance of ear defenders, which they now always wear at the cinema to lessen their sensory input. It all got a bit to much for Harry about half way through the film and he wanted to leave. Joshua didn’t want to leave, and Harry ended up screaming the place down to which point poor Richard had to carry them both out of the theatre, kicking and screaming.
All these experiences really makes us think both two and three times before we decide take them to the cinema.
All their lives they have struggled to watch a film all the way through the first time, which we now know is for this reason. They could watch a new movie a few minutes in, then the next time they saw it they could watch a little bit more, and so on until one day they could watch the whole film. Of course by then they’d probably watch it, or should I say part of it, probably 10 times. And being on the autistic spectrum they like and take comfort in watching the same thing over and over and over. So then they started to watch the whole film, over and over and over. Thats why we always bought their films instead of renting them and ended up with a massive library of childrens movies, because we certainly got our moneys worth! And I know probably a hundred kids movies by heart, haha. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Cars, or “Many Bil” as Joshua used to call it when he was little. (“Many” because, well, there was a lot of cars in the movie, and “Bil” because thats swedish for car)
They still like the familiarity of watching something over and over, wether it being a movie, a youtube video, a song or a game. For us it gets a bit boring and repetitive, but for them it’s comfort-knowing what’s coming next, what to expect. They live in a world of so many uncertainties and doing something repetitive brings comfort.
So this weekend when we took them to the cinema, seeing them laughing and enjoying a film for the first time, that for us was a huge win!