Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Long Haul – Autism Friendly Showing

The Boy LOVES the Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He’s a big fan of the books and loves the films..

Before his 8th birthday, he’d never been to the cinema. This is because he’s autistic with sensory processing disorder and the cinema is a very sensory experience with sound, lighting and crowds. We’ve known about autism friendly showings for a while but no film interested him until Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Long Haul came out, so we decided that this would be as good time as any to see how he coped with the experience. On this occasion, it was at the Odeon cinema.

For those unfamiliar with Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, the main protagonist is American middle school student, Greg Heffley, who starts sixth grade and writes down all his thoughts in a diary – though he prefers to call it a journal. Greg is always getting himself (and his family) into the deepest of poo. Put it this way, if I was his ‘Mom’, I would need gin via an intravenous drip.

The Film

Greg Heffly is involved in a particularly embarrassing incident in a family restaurant and plans to turn shame into fame by going to meet his idol, Mac Digby, at a gaming convention. However, Mrs Heffley forces the family on a road trip to attend great-grandma Meemaw’s 90th birthday party. As usual, things go wrong spectacularly wrong in true Heffley style.

The Cinema Experience

First thing’s first…SWEETS!

 

Five minutes staring at the Pokemon toys..

 

Brew Before We View..OOH rhymes..

 

Then it’s in we go..

Adjustments for autism friendly showings include:

  • a relaxed environment where people understand the needs of children and families with autism
  • lights left on low
  • sound turned down
  • no trailers or advertisements (unless they are embedded in the film)
  • staff trained in autism awareness
  • disabled access
  • chill out zone, where available
  • freedom to move around and sit where you like
  • bring your own food and drink
  • free entry for carers with valid CEA Card.

I liked how relaxed it was. I’ve seen numerous films in my time and it’s always taken me a few days to come down from my ‘high’ due to over-stimulation. With the autism friendly screening, however, I was absolutely fine. The Boy LOVED it. He wasn’t anxious at all. He was excited but not overwhelmed. GET IN!

One thing that short-circuited my brain was the fact that ALL the actors have changed from the first three films. I didn’t do my usual research so I wasn’t prepared. Nor did I look too closely at the advertising posters (OOPS) and I found it hard to get my head around at first because I’m autistic and don’t like things to change. However, Zachary Gordon (who played the original Greg Heffley) is now 19 and the original Roderick (Devon Bostick) is 25.

I’ve seen some less than favourable Twitter comments about the change of actors, especially the new Roderick with whingers (mostly girls) hash-tagging #NotmyRoderick.

HERE’S THE THING, GALS

Greg and Roderick Heffley do NOT age in the books so a recast is inevitable. WAKE UP AND SMELL THE POPCORN!

Personally, I think Charlie Wright does a decent job as Roderick, so, NER.

There are some laugh out loud moments but, for me, The Long Haul isn’t quite on par with the other films of the series. That said, The Boy thought it was ‘hilare’ all the way through.

I’m obviously old and miserable, but then, I probably have more in common with Great Grandma-Meemaw than anybody else. *sighs*

My rating for the autism showing experience at The Odeon is 9/10. This is definitely something we will do more of as a family. The only whinge I have is the ASTRONOMICAL price of sweets. Then again, you are allowed to take your own food and drink in so I guess I’ll just have to shut my face on that one, eh?

As for the film itself, I’ll give it 6/10 for some REALLY funny moments.

The Boy rates this film 58 million.

I’ll leave the last words with him..

“The cinema is great. That’s it for the cinema.

The film was very, very, very funny and exciting and awesome and also happy at the end.”

Eat your heart out, Kermode.

This experience (and film) gets The Boy’s stamp of approval.

This is not a sponsored review.

 

Dedicated Non-Follower of Fashion

I don’t do fashion, me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my moments over the years where I’ve tried to be fashionable in order to fit in, but it was hard work because all I ever really wanted to wear were my jeans and tee shirts. In my most creative phase I wore black lace skirts, gloves, vest tops, studded belts/cuffs and high-heeled boots, which I couldn’t walk in. What can I say? I was into Siousxie Sioux and her glorious gothness. I wanted to look like her, only with Madonna’s hairdo.

Over the years I must have spent hundreds of pounds on clothes (albeit via charity shops) only for them to sit unloved in the nether regions of my wardrobe. I’ve bought so many clothes on a whim during my monthly hormonal malfunctions. I CRINGE thinking back to some of the disasters I’ve bought, such as floor length green and pink striped WOOLEN skirts, which is fine if you want to look like a. sodding. caterpillar.

I think that women should stay the HELL away from clothes shops when they are on their periods (or going through the menopause) because they buy shit clothes that languish in their wardrobes with the tags on until they get a charity bag through the door.

“Women are more likely to have accidents in the few days leading up to their period and during their period.”

This includes accidental purchases of shit clothes that don’t fit and which look HIDEOUS. I vote they install sensors in shops that pick up on hormone imbalances, so as soon as the hormonally bewildered wander in, alarms go off and said women are escorted off the premises and propelled in the direction of the nearest Thorntons. Me? I don’t have that problem anymore because I’m post-menopausal which means that my hormones no longer fluctuate. I am psychotic 24/7. However, I can wear white jeans now WHENEVER I PLEASE. HA!

The thing is that I was, and still am, a tomboy.

In 1982 I lived in skin-tight jeans and AC/DC t-shirts, so maybe you can imagine my distress when my mother informed me that I was going to be a bridesmaid at my brother’s wedding…

To most 11-year-old girls, being a bridesmaid is a dream come true. Me? I sat down on my bed and wept because the thought of being center of attention terrified me, not to mention the indignity of having to wear a dress. In hindsight, I wish I had spoken up because at least then they wouldn’t have my sulky chops ruining their wedding album and video. In my defence, I was on the verge of starting my periods, therefore, MEGA CRANKY, and the photographer kept insisting on telling me to ‘smile ducky’ which just made me want to beat him to death with his Nikon, or whatever it was..

To make matters worse, my ‘evening do’ outfit was a pair of CANARY YELLOW pedal pushers with an equally hideous blouse. I had/have legs like chicken drumsticks, so my mother saw fit to buy me a pair of PEDAL PUSHERS. Also, she wanted her money’s worth out of the wedding sandals, so I had to wear those again, only with my SCHOOL socks.

Way to go, Ma. Could the outfit have been any bolder shade of yellow? I think not. There is a good reason why people don’t nick yellow cars. IT’S BECAUSE THEY ARE ABOUT AS INCONSPICUOUS AS LORD VOLDEMORT STROLLING AROUND TESCO DOING HIS WEEKLY SHOP!

Actually, I might bring this one up in my next therapy session?

Bro, if you are reading this, I’m sorry I spoiled your day with my sulky face. I was SO out of my comfort zone with all those people (inc scary old vicars and photographers) and then having to wear a girlie dress when I was about as girlie as a dog turd. I just wasn’t bridesmaid material. Bridesmaids should LOVE every second of being a bridesmaid but I was one big sweaty, miserable mess. I am honored that you asked me, truly, and I love you for it. However, I also know that Mum would have killed you if you didn’t. Love, Sis.

It’s taken me forty odd years but I finally understand that I am a woman of simple tastes. My wardrobe consists of jeans, tunic tops and umpteen tee shirts. Everything is 100% cotton. I own one pair of boots, four pairs of Converse (bit of an obsession) and a pair of sandals. No skirts. No dresses.

I’ve finally sussed that wearing certain materials only aggravates my sensory issues which makes me more of a miserable cow than I already am. Life is hard enough without handing myself more ammo, no?

I would quite like to die wearing a pair of Converse, but knowing my luck, I’ll shuffle off my mortal coil wearing my tea-stained dressing gown and pyjama bottoms with the holey crotch. Such is life, eh?

What I do know is that my days of wearing uncomfortable shoes and clothes are over. I wasn’t designed to totter in heels and I will never again inflict my bony ankles on the general public. Whoever designed boot cut and flared jeans has my eternal gratitude. From the bottom of my bell-bottomed heart, thank you.

“Anyway, there is one thing I have learned and that is not to dress uncomfortably, in styles which hurt: winklepicker shoes that cripple your feet and tight pants that squash your balls. Indian clothes are better.” ~ George Harrison

Creative Commons via Pixabay

 

 

 

 

The Boy, The Playground and Me

I’ve never been one for playgrounds..

Too crowded. Too noisy. A sensory nightmare.

The squeak of bare legs being forced down a hot metal slide on a summer’s day still makes me shudder as if there’s a hairy-arsed tarantula about to pounce on my face..

When The Boy was younger he hated playgrounds with passion. The first time we put him on a swing he like TOTALLY screamed the place down. Sure, children having tantrums are common place in parks but I’m talking TOTALLY LOSING HIS SHIT meltdowns where people stare at you because it MUST be down to bad parenting, no?

Er, no.

Playgrounds are a danger area for us because of the stimulus. Even now (aged seven) ten minutes is all he can handle before he starts to go into meltdown. Although the stimulus affects him, he likes the playground now. He is a sociable child but the problem is that he is too sociable and doesn’t understand the rules as is the case with autism. It doesn’t matter how young or old the other children are because they are all equal in his eyes and this causes problems..

For instance, on one occasion The Boy ran up to five teenage boys who were hogging the roundabout. He jumped on there with them as if he’d known them all his life. I hesitated to see how they would react to this little interloper but The Boy’s idea of play involves lots of incoherent shouting so it wasn’t long before the teens started nudging each other and laughing, the twats, though to be fair, they were just acting the way that most teenage boys act, it’s just that I’d have given anything for just one of them to show my son some compassion..

The Boy laughed back but had no idea that they were laughing at him. This took place in a matter of seconds but I’d seen enough but as I made my way to him the teens got up and just left him spinning on his own, not that it bothered him. As usual, he was oblivious as to what had taken place..

The thing is that he stands out.

His autism is IN YOUR FACE, autism.

We let him go into playgrounds whenever possible as long as he’s not showing signs of overwhelm before he goes in. We know that he’ll get over-excited pretty quickly so he’s given a ten minute countdown and those minutes seem like hours, believe me. All this on top of my own sensory issues makes it a stressful experience..

The last time he went into a playground was a few months ago. It was the adventure type playground and he homed in on a big rope type roundabout that could take about ten children at a time. My heart sank because I knew what was coming. I have a fluffy sensory toy which I keep in my pocket to calm myself and I stroked it so fast, I practically rendered it bald!

The Boy scrambled on with no qualms whatsoever. Aside my anxiety, I had to marvel at his inability to be apprehensive in certain situations. So, there was a little girl stood next to him and he shouted away to her. He was totally animated but she just stared at him open-mouthed and then asked to be let off. Once again, my son had been rejected only it was me who felt the pain, not him.

OH and I exchanged ‘the look’.

When we’d entered the playground, it was noisy with children screaming and parents chatting. It literally took five minutes for the atmosphere to change. One by one the kids on the roundabout fell silent as they stared at the little boy who excitedly screamed out incoherent babble to nobody in particular..

Then the parents stared at him and started looking around to see who he belonged to.

Er, that’ll be us, folks.

We knew he wasn’t going to make ten minutes as he was seconds away from meltdown and I wasn’t far behind having one of my own, so we grabbed him and left.

I didn’t look behind me because I didn’t want to see the judgmental looks on the faces of people who haven’t got a clue about our lives or his. I’ve seen those looks too many times and each time it hurts. I physically and emotionally hurt for my son..

So, I slammed the gate shut and pulled him close, mentally effing at the lot of them for not seeing my beautiful boy as I see him.

The blessing is that he is unaware of the way people stare. I was aware from the age of five so I’m glad he’s been spared for as long as he has but the day will come when he does notice and being different and knowing you’re different is hard. You’re forever having to work at appearing ‘normal’ and I pray that my son remains oblivious of people’s intolerance and ignorance for as long as is possible.

Those five minutes in the playground are still bothering me, obviously because I’m writing about it months later. It’s in my head now, logged with all the other ‘incidents’ and it makes me sad that some people show more compassion for their cars than they do human beings, especially vulnerable ones who could really do with their support..

Here’s a thought..

How about people stop staring and start supporting these kids?

Why shouldn’t my son express himself in the way that is natural to him? He’s not hurting anybody. It’s not an aggressive reaction. What people see is happiness minus the filters. To me, it’s beautiful. He is beautiful. It isn’t him that needs to change, it’s society.

“How would your life be different if…You stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day…You look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.”~ Steve Maraboli ~ Life, the Truth and Being Free

Creative Commons Image Via Pixabay

 

Spectrum Sunday