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Autistic Smurf fan has a special screening

Smurfs: The Lost Village
Smurfs: The Lost Village Image credit: comingsoon.net

When Natalie Long took her four-year-old daughter to see The Smurfs: Lost Village at her local cinema the things didn’t go quite as planned.

Little Indie has autism so she couldn’t quite grasp why the film wasn’t showing after her mum mixed up the screen times and arrived two hours early at the Odeon cinema in Trowbridge.

"Indie started getting upset and frustrated. She couldn't quite understand why we couldn't watch it there and then." Natalie told BBC Newsbeat.

With a couple of hours to spare Natalie and her friend Kayleigh asked cinema staff if they could turn the volume down when the film was screened because of Indie’s condition.

After hearing the party had turned up early the cinema staff went one better and screened a special showing just for Natalie at 10.15am with the lights staying on and without any adverts – which is the standard format for their autism-friendly films.

Natalie, friend Kayleigh and Indie at their local cinema

"I'm not sure whether we've ever experienced anything like this before," Natalie told the BBC.

"Usually, we have things planned out for her, and if things do change she can get upset and she can go quiet or start shouting, crying and getting a bit overwhelmed by everything."

"As a mum, the best thing that can happen is for the kids to be happy and she was absolutely ecstatic."

Chief executive of the National Autistic Society, Mark Lever added: "It's wonderful to hear about the team's understanding response to Indie and her family,"

"We hope that this will inspire other organisations and will [help them] think [of] small things they can do to make the world a more autism-friendly place."

Smurfs: The Lost Village is on general release across the UK now.