PERHAM -- For families with a member who is autistic or has another social issue, going to something as simple as a movie can be difficult, since they never know if their child is going to do something unexpected or have a meltdown.

“So they get to a point where they feel that they can’t get out and do fun things with their family out of fear that something might happen,” said Christi Stoll, Office Manager at Empowering Kids. Families often feel judged by people who do not understand what is happening.

That's why Empowering Kids, a Perham nonprofit working to help children and families with autism and other sensory needs, is hosting a sensory-friendly screening of the movie “Dolittle” on Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Comet Theater.

The goal of the sensory-friendly movie is to make the experience easier for those with sensory needs: the lights will be a little brighter, the movie’s audio will be quieter, and there will be no hush police in place.

“It won’t be as loud, it won’t be as dark,” said Chelsey Hendrickx, program specialist at Empowering Kids. ”We’ll have noise-canceling headphones, different fidgets that they can have so that they can do and enjoy a movie and have that family time.”

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Since the audio will be lower than usual the hope is that some kids will not need the noise-canceling headphones, which only muffles the sound. However, the headphones will still be provided for those who need or want them.

“A lot of our kids, when they watch a movie they put them on and they just watch the screen,” Stoll said. ”I don’t know how much of it they can hear but they love it!”

The sensory-friendly movie is part of Empowering Kids’ Autism Awareness campaign. The campaign is trying to help the community to understand autism so that when something does happen they can say that it is all right because they understand, Stoll said.

The goal is to make Perham a place that families want to bring their kids and feel welcome, Hendrickx said.

For more information

The sensory-friendly screening of "Dolittle" is Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Comet Theater, 146 First Ave. S., Perham. Doors will open at 12:30 p.m., and the film starts at 1 p.m. The event is open to the public and tickets will be matinee prices of $6.

What makes the movie "sensory-friendly"?

  • The movie's volume will be turned down.
  • The lights will be a little brighter.
  • There is a “no hush” policy.
  • Noise-reducing headphones, weighted blankets and fidgets will be available to check out.

Find more information about Empowering Kids at empoweringkidsperham.org.