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You're too old!

Censorship on age is something that appears in all areas of life. There are some things that have expected ages for safety reasons, or for material to be suitable. However, there are times when age limits can conflict with disability equality.

My son has interests that are much younger than his chronological age, like many adults with intellectual disabilities do. He recently saw an advert for a screening of short Wallace and Gromit cartoons at a local cinema chain. He was very excited as he can easily tire and a 30 minute trip to the cinema for him is ideal.

When we went to book tickets, it was not possible because you had to book a child ticket with an adult ticket. We raised this with the cinema because he has annual membership and their response was that “no adults would be interested in seeing a film of that kind or that length”.

Over the years we have had similar incidents but normally the issue has been over members of the public making insensitive comments rather than an organisation making these statements. When he was 11 we went to see Postman Pat Live and another audience member felt it was their place to comment that he was too old to see it. On that occasion there was an adult with learning difficulties next to us with their parents and their enthusiasm and pure joy and delight at seeing their hero eradicated any upset caused by the other person’s comment.

We had a similar incident a few years ago when we went to see one of Pie’s firm favourites, “The Tiger Who Came for Tea." On this occasion the theatre staff overheard a group of children mocking Pie and moved us to our own box where he was able to fully enjoy his time.

Thankfully we are able to support Pie and reassure him when situations like this occur, however there can be a lot of damage caused by having upper age limits on some events. Autistic children often enjoy programmes that are aimed at younger ages as they require far less social understanding. More obvious expressions on character's faces help autistic children understand what emotions are being felt and they are able to keep up with the storyline. This often means that their interest in attending live performances might come a bit later than neurotypical children. At the end of the day, we are all different and all enjoy things at different times!

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