Autism month gives children a chance to be themselves

By Kelsey Gerhardt kgerhardt@civitasmedia.com

April 24, 2014

Autism affects one in every 68 children in America and still many families without autistic children do not know much about the disorder.

Margaret Earls is a local mother with an autistic son and is familiar with the hardships faced by autistic children. Earls works not only to help families with autistic children, but also to educate families without autistic kids.

All families enjoy seeing a movie on the big screen but the loud sounds, changing lights and sometimes even smells or textures can affect someone with autism.

Earls created Kentucky Sound Down of Middlesboro to give autistic children a way to enjoy children’s movies without the potentially harmful realities of a normal movie theater. In a KSD sponsored movie, lighting is normal, the sound is turned down and children in attendance are not required to stay seated or adhere by typical theater rules.

“This gives kids a way to enjoy being together, watch a movie and get up and make noise during a movie without being shushed,” said Earls.

KSD will be hosting ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2’ at the Bell Theater on Saturday at 4 p.m. in honor of Autism Awareness Month.

“I enjoy helping families and it brings me happiness to be able to help somebody like this,” said Earls.

KSD and the Children’s Reading Foundation of Appalachia will provide free sodas, popcorn and a book to children in attendance.

Page School will also be hosting an Autism Walk at 10 a.m. Saturday to raise funds for students with autism or sensory issues. The walk will cost $10 and registration will begin at 9 a.m.

Kelsey Gerhardt may be reached at 606-302-9093 or on Twitter @kgerhardtmbdn.