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Compassion at the Cinema

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This past weekend I had the opportunity to take Justin to see the last of the “How to Train Your Dragon” movies at our local theater. This is a series we have both loved, as evidenced by the amount of times he has chosen to play the DVDs of the first two movies on his DVD player.

Here’s a secret- I love the franchise as much as he does.

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Justin did spectacularly at the cinema, however there have been times in the past when attempting a movie was an epic fail. At times he has just been too loud for me to bring him to anything but the sensory showings, which have since been discontinued. Then there was a period of a few years where he’d leave as soon as the popcorn was finished.

Eventually there was a period where we’d never even make it past the previews.

The truth is (if you haven’t figured this out by now) that I am stubborn, and although we took some cinematic breaks, I always knew I’d give it another try. He is still loud sometimes. When he’s excited he bounces up and down in his chair.

And I can honestly tell you that this weekend nobody gave a damn.

Now that we can pick our seats (a Godsend!) I strategically choose the back row, end seats. Given how loud these movies are I usually only have to worry about the people just to the right or left of us as the people in front are too far away to be affected. This past Sunday I had the good fortune to sit next to a mom to whom I introduced myself, told her about Justin, explained about the possibility of bouncing and vocal utterances, and waited to see her response.

I got back a smile and a “No problem, it’s perfectly fine.”

To me, that’s just pure joy.

I will be honest and tell you that ten years ago I would have cared a great deal more about what someone thought of my son’s deep-voiced vocals. At this point he’s not much louder now than many of the toddlers who frequent these films, and I can rein him in when he really gets going. I will tell you however that having someone sit next to me who got it and truly didn’t care if my teen got excited watching a kid’s movie just put me at ease.

And given this life, I truly enjoy things that put me at ease.

With Autism Awareness month fast approaching, I am just so grateful that people “get it,” both for me as a “seasoned veteran,” but more for those families whose children have just been diagnosed or are dealing with extremely challenging situations. A kind word can make all the difference- understanding and acceptance can literally change a family’s day from negative to positive.

So thank you, stranger in a movie theater on a rainy Sunday. I hope people read about you and are inspired to mirror your compassion.

Thank you!

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