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This is some seriously cool news for film-loving kids with autism spectrum disorder and their families: Cineplex theatres across Canada are offering a new kind of movie-going experience specially tailored to the needs of children and other individuals with ASD.

In partnership with Autism Speaks Canada, Cineplex will be offering new movies in 2D on select Saturday mornings. They’re turning the volume down and the lights up at these screenings and limiting audience numbers to create a calmer environment for sensitive fans. They’ll also allow families to bring in their own snacks, accommodating any dietary restrictions and preferences.

Even more exciting? The first screening, to be held at approximately 12 theatres across the country this Saturday, February 14, will be the brand new SpongeBob Movie Sponge Out of Water.

HOORAY

One in 68 kids are diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Many are distressed by loud sounds, intense visuals (like 3D movies), and big crowds. Cineplex’s new program hopes to mitigate all of the above so that everyone is able to have a good time at the movies. They’ll also provide a space for overwhelmed kids to take a break in if the movie proves to be too much for them.

POPCORN

“Our goal is to make movie-going accessible to as many Canadians as possible,” says Pat Marshall of Cineplex Entertainment. “This partnership with Autism Speaks Canada provides an opportunity to see the latest family movies in a comfortable environment, at a reduced price.”

Parents of kids with ASD are thrilled by the news. “If you’re in a room full of people who have kids with autism, they’re not going to judge you if you get up with your kid and go out for a few minutes,” one mom told CBC, adding, “If your kid starts yelling or clapping, nobody’s going to care about that kind of stuff.”

Families interested in checking out future screenings can head to Cineplex’s site, where they’ll be announcing which movies they’ll be offering up to two weeks before showtime.

Happy movie-going, everybody!

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