A cinema held a private screening of a film for a young autistic girl who became upset at missing the main showing because of a timing mix-up.
Excited Indie Long, aged four, had been counting down the sleeps after her mum told her she was taking her to see Smurfs: The Lost Village.
They went to their local Odeon at 10.15 on Monday morning with Indie’s younger sister Thea, two, and a family friend – only to find they were nearly two hours early.
Mum Natalie, 29, had mistakenly noted the wrong time when she checked online.
Young Indie, who suffers from Asperger‘s syndrome, likes to plan her day and last-minute changes can cause real distress.
After gently being told they would miss the film she worked herself up into a state and began “flapping her hands and stomping her feet”.
But kind-hearted staff at the cinema in Trowbridge, Wilts decided to host a special showing of the film just for her and her family after seeing her upset.
They sat six rows back from the front in Screen Three – capacity 282 people – which was otherwise empty.
Indie tucked into a Little Kids Mix containing a fruit roll, popcorn and bottle of water.
Staff adapted the screening for her condition – reducing the lights and sound levels and scrapping the normal trailers and adverts.
Natalie said: “Indie became very frustrated and got worked up when we were told we had to wait – she finds it difficult when things change after they have been planned.
“She was quite vocal and was flapping her hands and stomping her feet, saying she wanted to wait there until the film came on.
“She had been counting down the sleeps until we went to watch it and was so upset.
“We asked staff if we could watch The Boss Baby instead because we didn’t want to wait around or go home.
“But then to our amazement the manager said they would put on an extra special one-off autism-friendly screening of Smurfs.
“They didn’t have to do that but they went the extra mile and it meant the world to Indie – she absolutely loved the film and we were all so grateful to them for making it happen.”
Indie was so happy with the film she danced to the music at the front of the cinema at the end of the film.
Mother-of-three Natalie said Indie had been obsessed with the Smurfs after getting a toy in a McDonald’s happy meal.
She took her to the cinema with younger daughter Thea, two, and family friend Kayleigh Ramplin.
The random act of kindness coincided with the start of World Autism Awareness Week, which aims to raise awareness of the condition around the world.
Caitlin Swan, ODEON Trowbridge general manager, said: “It was our pleasure to help out and host a special showing of Smurfs: The Lost Village for Indie and her family.
“We were thrilled to hear she had a great time at the cinema and hope she comes back to visit us again soon for one of our regular autism-friendly performances.
“These screenings have only subtle changes to the norm including lights being kept on at a low level, lower than usual sound levels, no trailers or advertisements and an allowance for increased levels of movement and noise.”