Jo Worgan column: Tom’s movie experience is spot on

Guardian columnist Jo Worgan
Guardian columnist Jo Worgan

It is Sunday afternoon and I am writing this week’s column all about my visit with Tom to the Vue cinema in Lancaster to see Sammy’s Great Escape.

This was an ‘autism friendly screening’, and was the first time that an ‘autism friendly film’ has been shown in the city.

I just have to say how excellent the whole experience was.

Firstly after I had booked tickets online I was directed to a link where I could download a social story about going to the pictures, so it showed a photograph of the building, then the time it started, then the tickets, etc.

I showed this to Tom so that he knew what to expect; this is very important for autistic individuals, knowing what will happen reduces anxiety and the visual images help to communicate this, Tom is very much a visual learner although he is verbal.

Once we got to the cinema we were greeted by friendly staff and then when going into the actual theatre there were two members of staff outside who asked if we are ok and if we needed any help.

The actual experience of sitting and watching the film was wonderful. Lights were lit dimly and the noise levels were reduced so as to lessen sensory overload.

Tom, I could tell, was very much relaxed and sat on his booster seat happily munching his popcorn with a huge smile on his face.

It was a very relaxed atmosphere to be in. Tom did chat throughout but so did other people and I knew that everyone there understood.

People were also ‘allowed’ to walk around if they so wished, so I didn’t have to panic if Tom wanted to do so as well.

Tom did very well, I was so very proud of him. He managed 50 minutes until he suddenly said, ‘we go now, go to car shop’, at this point I knew that it was time to go.

However what mattered to me was that he enjoyed the whole experience. He enjoyed sitting and watching the film and eating his popcorn.

I was so happy. We will definitely be going to the next autism friendly screening at the end of July. Autism Friendly Screenings take place on the last Sunday of every month at 10am. More can be found at