Austism Society

Doing common-everyday outings such as grocery shopping or even watching a movie in a theater is sometimes difficult for Catalina resident Amelia Reye-Crozier when she brings along her 11-year-old son Diego.

She and her family get to have what seems like a vacation to them once a month when they go to the AMC movie theater at the Foothills Mall for its sensory friendly films. 

Diego was diagnosed with autism when he was about three years old. Simple noises such as the radio on in the car or a toilet flushing can be a little too much stimulation. Going to a dark theater to watch a movie with the volume cranked up, coupled with being placed in an environment where people are expected to stay seated and quiet was simply not an option for Amelia.

After getting involved with the Autism Society, she knew her family had to try the sensory friendly films.

This is because all three kids, especially Diego, can be who really are without having to abide by so-called normal rules.

Diego is allowed to laugh how he normally does, which is very high pitched. 

“He can flap his arms around, or if he was to just stand up, he could, and he wouldn’t be ridiculed and we wouldn’t have to intervene with certain adults that make statements that might be demeaning. 

“We can simply sit back and enjoy a movie together.”

Amelia occasionally has to deal with heartbreaking incidents when people don’t understand, and simply have a knee-jerk reaction, which is often rude toward both Diego and a person’s impression of her parenting style. To have an opportunity to view a movie, in a theater, with the entire family and other families, is a complete joy.

“It’s great because we are not alone,” Amelia said. “Many times we’ve always felt we are the only family with the only son [with autism]. It’s nice that we can share something in common.”

In addition to the friendly physical environment, Pete Schwarz who is the president of the Autism Society, Greater Tucson, said that families are allowed to also bring in their own food to make everyone as comfortable as possible.

“It seems simple,” Pete said. “Going to a movie is something that most people get to enjoy at least sometime in their life. For a lot of families that have kids with major sensory issues, or even if they don’t have sensory issues, like if they talk and they want to stand up and jump up and down when they are excited. They can’t do that at a regular movie.”

One of the main events that the society hosts is the Annual Piece the Puzzle Autism Walk/Run and Resource Fair. Events the society holds helps to fund such things as the tickets they give away for the sensory friendly films, sponsoring and co-sponsoring workshops.

This year, the event will take place at a new location; Kino Sports Complex, 2500 E. Ajo Way, on Saturday, April 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

At the largest autism event in Southern Arizona, more than 40 vendors will be present, along with activities for adults and children.

The next sensory friendly film will be “Rio 2” on April 19, at 10 a.m. and will be shown at the AMC at the Foothills Mall.

For more information on the walk/run event, go to or call 770-1541.

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