A monthly movie screening is moving a group of area families.
Monthly “sensory friendly” screenings for autistic children – with the theater lights turned up, sound turned down, and the youngsters free to move around – have begun at the Grand 14 Cinema at The Market Common In Myrtle Beach. The next showing, “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return,” plays at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Families in Horry County with autistic children are welcome to join the Champions of Autism Network, a support group associated with the Medical University of South Carolina’s s developmental behavioral pediatrics division and the Lowcountry Autism Foundation, both based in Charleston. Besides monthly meetings at the Horry County Memorial Library Surfside Beach branch – the next one is 5:30 p.m. May 15 – this series of monthly movies, begun April 12 with “Rio 2,” have given another outlet of fun for these families.
As defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; autism spectrum disorders are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. These maladies affect each person differently, ranging in degree from very mild to severe and seen through problems in social interaction.
The support group for Horry County families began this year with coordinator, Becky Large of Surfside Beach, who said her son, who turns 11 in June, was diagnosed at age 7 with Asperger’s syndrome, when the family lived in New Jersey.
Large voiced hopes of networking with other families who cope with autism to build “a centralized organization” for this support.
“It’s a lot,” she said, “to wrap your arms around when trying to find services and supports for your autistic child and still keep the family and household going, with work tossed into the mix somehow.”
Large also hopes to connect with therapists and other support services that such families need and find more means for interaction, such as equine therapy, 1-on-1 applied behavior analysis therapy, and other ideas for speech, recreation and education enhancement, as well as for “respite care” – so parents have a break from caregiving to do some errands in the day.
He asked if I would be interested in starting a parent group. ... We started meeting in February. .... I know people who are so happy and grateful just to know they’re not alone.
The other thing is, just because children with autism are engaging with adults, that does not mean they can get along with their peers. ... The earlier integration you can give to these children, the better off they are in the family.
I call the condition “the black hole of the self” – it’s always about them, and everything comes back to them. They don’t recognize facial or body language. ... It’s kind of a social communications disorder.
But I’m a pretty empathetic person, and I have been given this gift of a child to shepherd through life, and ... I can help this child learn. ... It’s our job to teach them, and if we can’t, to find somebody who can. ...
Everybody has challenges ... and everybody has problems.
Horry County is a great county; they have a lot of support. They have behavioral therapists who will come to your home, and help set up tools for the home.
Other issues with autism might be ADHD, bipolar disorder and other chemical imbalances, so there can be other things going on, so to have a child sit engaged, watching a movie, is impossible.