THE Empire Cinema at Greenbridge will be breaking new ground this weekend by hosting a special screening for autistic cinema fans.

They will be hosting an autism-friendly screening of the new children’s film Rio on Sunday at 2pm.

Lights in the cinema will be left on low, the volume reduced and it will be okay to make a bit of noise during the screening.

South Swindon MP Robert Buckland, who has a young daughter with autism, said he was delighted that the screening would go ahead.

“Thanks must go to Empire Cinemas for responding so quickly to my cheeky request at a National Autistic Society Awards Ceremony held at the Empire Leicester Square a few weeks ago,” he said.

“The manager of Empire Cinemas talked about autism-friendly screenings, so I asked him there and then if Greenbridge Empire could have them too. He agreed, and the result is the first screening on April 10.”

Mr Buckland, pictured above, said that the screening, which is open to extended family and friends, would make a lot of difference to those who would not otherwise go to the cinema.

He said: “Going to the cinema can be a real ordeal for many with autism and related conditions.

“A few adjustments to things like sound and lighting can make all the difference for cinema-goers with these lifelong conditions. “I hope that the first autism-friendly screening at Greenbridge will be followed by many more.”

The screening comes on the back of the launch last week of an autism alert card in Wiltshire.

There has been plenty of initial response to the card which has been put together in conjunction with Wiltshire Police to help those with autism who come into contact with the criminal justice system, as perpetrators, victims or witnesses.

Rachel Pike, the NAS’s regional co-ordinator for the south west, said autism alert cards have been successful in helping people with autism explain their condition in situations where they find communication difficult.

She said: “People carrying the card can present it to explain their behaviour in times of stress, such as in an accident, or to explain their needs if they are unable to communicate them verbally. “We know that lack of understanding of their condition is a real issue for people with autism and hope that the autism alert card will help in our efforts to promote it.

“We are really pleased to be supporting the launch of the autism alert cards in Wiltshire.

“The card will help to raise awareness of the condition and we hope that as a result people with autism will be provided with the support that they require.”

Wiltshire Police are backing the card, which has resulted in a training programme among officers.

Chief Inspector Bob Edge said: “As an organisation we have a duty to deliver equality and diversity.

“It’s not just a matter of ticking a box, this autism alert card is about building relationships within the community and ensuring that every day we deliver an honest, fair and equal policing service to everyone.”

Free cards are available to anyone with an autistic condition from

For more information about the cinema screening or the alert card contact Sally Grubb on 01793 770079.