I think the thing we miss out most on, being a family with a child who has Autism, is going to the movies.
Certainly, AMC goes a long way in having those sensory-friendly screenings that make it possible for us to occasionally catch a film, in theory. (There are a lot of days where it just doesn’t work out, when we’re hoping to go.) And we could hire a sitter so the wife and I could catch a film, but… we’ve still not done that any time recently.
Watching any movie, with the Monster is somewhat hit or miss, though. The major issue in this case is not really the Autism, per se, as much as his attention span.
When it’s something he’s interested in, he can focus like nobody’s business. Give him the iPad and he’s occupied until the battery runs out (or we take it away from him). Let him have at some toys with wheels and lights, and off he goes. But.. a film, not so much.
We did, a few months ago, go to see Monsters University at the AMC theater in Owings Mills, and he was mostly good for the length of the performance, if only through plying him with enough food and drink to keep him in his seat. We’ve tried on-and-off to get him to sit still at home for a movie that we thought he’d enjoy (Cars and Monsters, Inc., as well as a collection of Disney films). It’s easier to keep him engaged with something he’s familiar with when he’s a captive audience – in the van, for example – than when he can actually get up and potentially roam around.
And yes, I know, it’s a horrible thing on some level to say that we want him to get acclimated to the idea of sitting like a couch potato for a bit. But there are plenty of times that, when he someday has friends/a significant other, that he’ll need to use that skill. There’s opportunities to go see shows, or performances like the circus, or ice shows, and all of those use the same skills, ones he’s really not had to develop yet. Of course, that kind of attention would also be good for when he starts first grade in the fall… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
And I don’t mind if that requires the employment of food/drink to keep him in place… if only because I can’t remember the last film I watched without eating and drinking. (It’s different when we go to see a musical, perhaps… plus it’s more cramped and more expensive.)
It’s something we have to start working on, clearly… as soon as I figure out how.