Jo Worgan column: Tarzan screening tames Tom

Guardian columnist Jo Worgan
Guardian columnist Jo Worgan

Autism Friendly Screenings (AFS) are organised through the charity, Dimensions, and many cinema chains participate in this scheme.

These are special screenings were the lights are dimmed, sound reduced and you can choose where to sit as well as being able to take your own food.

Luckily our local Vue here in Lancaster participates and an AFS film is shown every last Sunday in the month at 10am. Last Sunday’s film was Tarzan. I have only taken Tom to these screenings as he usually only watches half the film. Once his popcorn has been wolfed down he declares, “ We go now!”

But on Sunday Andrew was away so I had to take both Stephen and Tom. However, both boys were extremely excited and I knew that I could hopefully persuade Tom to sit and watch the entire film by telling him that Stephen would be sad if we had to leave.

Both boys were excited all week and in fact Tom was so excited he thought that 4am was a good time to wake up and do ‘step one’ of our morning routine, eating breakfast. However he soon went back off to sleep and woke at 5.50am, a more reasonable hour to start our day.

Luckily the cinema was very quiet when we got there, only one family before us in the queue so buying the tickets, popcorn (and coffee for me) was relatively quick.

So into the actual screen we ventured. One family were sat right at the very back and yes, you’ve guessed it, Tom wanted to sit right next to them. The real joy about AFS is that you can choose were to sit, a real bonus with Tom. Anyway both Tom and Stephen were happy with their chosen seats and literally once we had sat down, the film began.

This is another great thing about AFS; there are no adverts and no trailers so the film starts at the time it is advertised at.

There was enough action and ‘monkeys’ to keep them both entertained and Tom coped really well. He did ask to go halfway through but I managed to persuade him to sit and watch the film. He sat on my knee for the remainder of the film and pretended to be Tarzan a few times with the occasional shouting out but nobody seemed to mind.

AFS are truly fantastic. They make going to the cinema ‘achievable’. Tom enjoyed watching the film with his older brother and I enjoyed watching it with them.