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How a Movie Theater Manager Gave My Son a Day He Will Never Forget

This is a post by Reverend Alisha L. Grinus, the mother of five home schooled children with a degree in Human Services. She and her husband Tracy together deal with the myriad of challenges having children with special needs.  

Cinemark Tinseltown Movie Theater in Kenosha Wisconsin has gone above and beyond with their service. My family and I would like to thank them and their Senior Assistant Manager Eric Heckel.

Our first attempt to see Furious 7 was a terrorizing experience for my 9-year-old son, Chase, who has autism. It starts with our family watching the original six Fast and Furious movies over and over and over. Chase really likes these movies and the week that Furious 7 was being released, Chase started a countdown.

We are a large family of five children, so going to the movies is saved for special occasions or special movies. Chase was on his best possible behavior, well, as much as he could be. He wanted to see Furious 7 more than anything. We went to the theater, got our treats and settled in our seats.

Then the terror began.

Prior to the showing of the movie, the theater played not one, but two awful paranormal horror movie trailers. Chase tried to cover his ears, shut his eyes, hum to try to block out the noises but he couldn’t. He got very upset and started the rocking back and forth and tics. He became agitated to the point we couldn’t finish the movie and had to go home early. Chase required medication and retreated to his iPad.

I decided to write a letter to the Cinemark Tinseltown on their website. I let them know that the trailers were inappropriate for such a popular movie, a movie that people of all ages would be watching. I explained how excited Chase was about seeing the movie and how he was unable to watch it because of the upsetting theater trailers for horror movies. I received a quick response by email from the Senior Assistant Manager Eric Heckel.

Mr. Heckel was very professional and expressed his concern about the trailers. He said he was going to stop the theater from showing those two trailers before Furious 7 again. He also was making his corporate office aware of this situation.

Eric offered us to return as a family for a private showing of Furious 7 with no trailers. Since the dark was now scaring Chase from the trailers, Mr. Heckel arranged for the lights to be just dimmed. He provided popcorn and soda for all of us  After our private showing, he introduced himself to Chase and presented him with a movie theater poster of Furious 7 to take home.

I am very impressed with the care and concern of our local theater and their quick actions to remedy a situation thaat I wish had never happened. Chase was so happy. That whole day was all about him and he finally got to watch his movie. I feel that Cinemark Tinseltown Kenosha #244 and their manager Eric Heckel deserve some praise because the little things that they did made this a very special day for my special son Chase.

He said he will never forget the fun that we had that day.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.