Theater catering to special needs audience


MOORE, Okla. – An Oklahoma theater is taking steps to welcome those with autism and sensory disorders.

Typically those who struggle with certain types of special needs stay away from theaters for a variety of reasons but now they don’t have to.

Six-year-old Dakota Wheeler struggles with autism and a sensory processing disorder.

While he loves movies, a trip to the theater is just not an option.

“It’s very difficult”, Dakota’s mother Melissa said. “We actually tried to take him to see Cars 2 in the theater and he flipped out when the lights went low and it got loud in the theater.” 

It can be a lot for kids like Dakota to handle. 

With that in mind, this weekend the Warren Theater is starting a new showing geared toward those with autism and sensory disorders.   

Bill Warren, President of Warren Theatres said he wants to help.

“There was a group of wonderful families out there that just couldn’t go to movies. I just was unaware of that,” he said.

While the theater may look the same, the experience will be different. 

“The light level is up, not as much as I thought it might be and the sound is turned down,” Warren said.

All sensory-friendly showings will also be held in a theater with sloped aisles, not stairs, giving the kiddos and their families’ freedom to move around more easily.

“They’re welcome to dance or enjoy the movie because this is a different environment,” he said.

The first sensory-friendly presentation in Wichita filled up three theaters.

This Saturday’s showing is “Rise of the Guardians” and will start at 11 a.m., the theater opens at 10:15 a.m.

Tickets are $7.