A simple trip to the cinema?
Following a couple of successful trips recently with my severely autistic daughter to see the pantomime in Chesterfield and, most recently, 'Strictly Come Dancing' at Sheffield Arena I am feeling brave! So brave that I am planning to take her to one of the Autism-Friendly screenings that are held at our local Cineworld.
I know what you are probably thinking: 'An Autism-Friendly screening? Should be a doddle!'
Cineworld do indeed do a brilliant job of adjusting the environment to accommodate people with autism: lighting levels are raised so that it is not too dark, the sound level is not as loud as at a typical screening, seats are not allocated so people can sit wherever suits them best, customers can take in their own food (which reminds me: I must take some carrot-sticks with me.....), there are no adverts so there's no waiting around for the film to start and there is even a 'chill-out' area provided in case things get too overwhelming. Brilliant!
The problem is that in order to benefit from all this we first have to get into the cinema......'Easy!' I hear you cry: 'Just walk in!' No - sadly, that's not the way it works for us.
For starters, my daughter will not go somewhere she has never been before. Usually, we have to do a 'dry run' where we go to the place we are intending to visit and then come back again so that when we go 'for real' she will actually get out of the car.
Sometimes pictures help her to understand where we are going and what the plan for the trip is and I will certainly be employing this tactic.
Now, we have been to Cineworld before - many years ago - and it might just be that she remembers it, in which case we have a chance of getting through the door. If indeed we actually get to the door.
The snag is that Cineworld is on the same complex as McDonalds. When we go to that area therefore it means that we are going to McDonalds and not to the cinema.
To solve this I can go to McDonalds (it has to be the Drive-Thru and not the restaurant itself), buy our usual meal and then go to the cinema.
Except , when we have been to McDonalds and bought our meal we always go straight to my mum's to collect some littlle stones from her pebble-dashed wall that Megan likes to nibble. I even have a special scraper to get them off the wall more easily. My mother's concerns about her wall going 'bald' are getting more and more realistic.......
To solve this I can go to my mum's after we have bought our meal, collect the stones and then go to Cineworld.
Except, when we have been to my mum's to collect the little stones from the wall we always go home for some more food and watch an episode of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire'. It has to be a particular episode of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' from 2008 involving a doctor called Jonathan Pash who gets up to £5000 only to crash back to £1000 when he gets a question about what political post was given to Alan Williams after the 2005 election..... Jonathan asks the audience and his friend Olav but ignores both. Shame..... Luckily we only have half of the episode which must nevertheless be watched, adverts and all, from start to finish. Whilst this is playing Megan eats a sequence of food. Typically this is a dish of small potatoes, a dish of pasta, an apple, some more potatoes and some toast. While she is eating the Johathan Pash episode must be playing. If it is switched off or if another episode or different programme comes onto the screen she stops eating and won't start again until Jonathan reappears. Bless him.....
To solve this I can go home after we have collected the little stones from the wall, do all of the above and then go to Cineworld.
Except, when Megan has visited somewhere she can't go back and re-visit. She visits once and once only in a day.....
To solve all of the above I can take some little stones with me to the Cineworld complex along with some pictures which explain what we are doing, go to McDonalds, buy our meal then park outside the cinema, hand over the little stones, open the car door and then hope for the best. This is my plan. Wish me luck!