Spotlight On…Sensory-Friendly Films

Sensory Friendly Films

Our ‘Spotlight On’ series features regional programs and activities in the arts and entertainment that have been designed for those touched by autism.

Attention movie lovers — AMC is offering sensory-friendly films for families touched by autism on a monthly basis in select communities all over the country. At the sensory-friendly showings, the auditoriums have their lights turned up, the sound turned down and the audience members are invited to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing (whatever goes!)

The idea for the program came from a parent of an autistic child in Columbia, MD, who had requested a special screening at their local AMC — and more than 300 children and parents attended that first screening.

So it may be time for a great movie night out for the entire family! To check out participating theatres and show dates, check out this site.

Lynsey, Community Manager

Brain Balance

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog  - it’s been a busy, busy spring.

But, thanks to a Facebook posting with this link, I am reconnecting with Dr. Robert Melillo and his Brain Balance work again….so exciting!

I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Melillo many years ago, when he was just starting to build a network of Brain Balance centers across the country.  His research, and his support of brain research with kids on the spectrum, is amazing.  Go to the Brain Center website, to find a center near you (there are three just in my area alone).

Years ago, when I was working with Kyle in the Son-Rise program, we also used a little known program called Brain Gym.  Right away, I saw changes in Kyle’s speech and attention span, so we incorporated some of the exercises into our Son-Rise program.  I am thrilled to see that the Brain Balance centers are thriving in their attempt to help children on the spectrum recover their cognitive abilities.  As I said, very important stuff!

I know, there are so many programs, so many claims that this one program will be the one – which one will work for your kid?  I don’t know that answer.  The only thing I know is what worked for Kyle.

I do know that when I would run across a program like Brain Balance, I would think, why not?

All the best,


Spotlight On…Children’s Museum of Houston

Children's Museum of Houston

Our ‘Spotlight On’ series features regional programs and activities in the arts and entertainment that have been designed for those touched by autism.

Houston-area residents (or visitors) – the Children’s Museum of Houston offers semi-annual Sensory Friendly Days for children with autism – allowing them to explore the museum in their own way and in their own time!

These events provide a comfortable and protected environment for children and allow parents to make connections with other families. Doors are closed to the general public, lights are turned down, extra sounds are limited and distracting motions are stopped. Plus, extra signage is added to help visitors determine things not to climb on.

The next Sensory Friendly Day is scheduled for October 14, 2013, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. For more information and/or to register, visit the museum’s website.

Lynsey, Community Manager 

Antibodies Linked to 25% of Autism Cases (New Study)

Translational PsychiatryIn what may be a significant finding in regards to a potential cause of autism, researchers have uncovered that maternal antibodies could interfere with fetal brain proteins during pregnancy – suggesting this could account for roughly one quarter of autism cases.

What this could mean is that testing a pregnant woman’s blood for six distinct antibodies – as identified in the study – may be able to predict with a high certainty whether her baby has a significant risk of developing autism.

Researchers don’t know why or when mothers produce these antibodies that interfere with fetal brain development – possible theories include infections or toxic chemical exposure during pregnancy.

The study included 246 autistic children and their mothers, as well as 149 typically developing children. Of the mothers tested, all but one with the antibodies had an autistic child. However, as also noted, having a negative test for antibodies would not rule out the risk of autism.

To read more about the study, which was published in Translational Psychiatry, click here.

Lynsey, Community Manager 

Coming to Broadway

BroadwayWe’re happy to share that the Theatre Development Fund (TDF) is gearing up for a slate of autism-friendly performances of popular Broadway shows this fall, which will include Disney’s The Lion King, Spider-man Turn Off The Dark and Wicked. This is part of TDF’s Autism Theatre Initiative, a program to make theatre accessible to children and adults with autism as well as their families.

The program launched back in 2011 with a showing of The Lion King, and it was so successful that more shows were added — and it also demonstrated the need for other theatres around the country to develop similar initiatives to offer autism-friendly performances.

To help make it a more comfortable environment for audience members, slight adjustments to the production are made, including the reduction of any jarring sounds or strobe lights. There are also quiet and activity areas in the lobby for those who need to leave their seats during the performances.

It’s a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the magic that these shows have to offer. Check out dates/times below, and for ticket information, click here.

  • Sunday, Sept. 29 (1 p.m.) – Disney’s The Lion KingMinskoff Theatre (**Tickets available now**)
  • Saturday, Nov. 16 (2 p.m.) – Spider-man Turn Off The DarkThe Foxwoods
  • Sunday, March 2, 2014 (1 p.m.) – WickedGershwin Theatre

Lynsey, Community Manager 

Carly’s Cafe

The voices we often hear out in the autism community are the parents of those with autism. The Internet, however, has been a beautiful gateway to hear from those whom are autistic themselves – many who may be non-verbal but have found a communication outlet through writing. One of the many people sharing their story and experiences is Carly Fleischmann who is non-verbal but is able to talk through the use of a computer and tablet. She, with the help of her dad, created the following video that is a look at the world through Carly’s eyes – and how tough a simple act like going out for coffee can be for Carly.

The video is based on an excerpt from Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism, which was co-written by Carly and her dad, Arthur.  Carly’s message is a beautiful and simple one: “Everyone has an inner voice. I found a way to let mine out.”

To get the full video experience, visit the Carly Café website.


Lynsey, Community Manager