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Natomas Marketplace 16’s ‘My Way Matinee’ Caters to Families with Autistic Children

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NATOMAS --

For 13 of his 15 years, Ian Zaffa's autism was misdiagnosed.

"He's a big, super sweet, funny, joking kind of guy. He's amazing...just an amazing guy," his mom Sara Zaffa said.

Now Sara Zaffa has the proper name for the collection of behaviors she's seen for years -- like the melt-down that started after FOX40's cameras arrived at their home.

At first he was excited and then that changed.

"He got very upset. He's more like a 7- or 8-year-old," Sara Zaffa said.

Some of his behaviors can put a major plot twist into something as simple as a trip to the movies.

"He loves to go to the movies, but, um, he also likes to talk very loud and move around, likes to get out of his seat several times so it becomes very difficult for us," she said.

The big,  booming sound that draws other ticket-holders to a darkened theater can also be an issue.

"That's a problem for him too -- the volume. He doesn't like it so loud," she said about her son's regular complaint.

The Natomas Marketplace Stadium 16 is now one of the venues in the Regal Entertainment Group raising the curtain on a new era for families like the Zaffas.

It's one in which the theater lights stay up, the film volume comes down and movie-goers are encouraged to do whatever makes them feel comfortable in the aisles.

The program's called "My Way Matinee" and will feature new releases once a month through December.

"Hotel Transylvania Two" will be the first movie to hit big screens on as part of the program.

Does it make a difference that at least one company's trying to embrace the kinds of things that usually make Ian Zaffa stand out?

"Yes, you have no idea," Sara Zaffa said.

"That's really important because there's not much out there for families like ours," she said.

The first My Way Matinee,  "Hotel Transylvania Two," will debut in Natomas this Saturday at 10:30am.

Prices are discounted as well -- just $6.50 plus tax.

Edwards Fresno Stadium 22 and IMAX is the other California Regal venue participating in this program.