If asked to describe the typical Chuck E. Cheese's, most parents would talk of a barrage of lights and sound, interrupted by the screams of overexcited children and muffled sobs of tired mothers and fathers. These conditions are far from ideal, however, for children with special needs who are sensitive to light and sound. In a step towards inclusion, the children's pizza chain announced this week they would be opening two hours early on the first Sunday of every month for "Sensory Sensitive Sundays" so all children can experience the place where "a kid can be a kid."
Real. Word up to Chuck E. Cheese for taking steps & initiatives in being inclusive for all people.— DJ Payne (@OHTHATS_DJ) April 6, 2018
Hopefully other organizations and chains see this or a similar article and decide to follow suite.
On these Sundays, the lights will be dimmed and the sound will be lower. Chuck E. Cheese himself will also make an appearance.
In a press release the chain commented:
Chuck E. Cheese's is proud to support families who have children with autism and special needs. We now offer a sensory-friendly experience on the first Sunday of every month. Our trained and caring staff is there to make sure each guest has a fun filled visit.
*starts donating to whatever “Chuck E. Cheese fund is available.*— $$$herm (@A_HelluvaGuy) April 6, 2018
The Sensory Sensitive Sundays are an extension of a program Chuck E. Cheese's tested at many locations to overwhelmingly positive results. According to parents, the Sundays aren't just a great time for kids, they're also a relief for parents.
Mike Moniz, whose son Austin is autistic, told HuffPost:
You don’t have to explain to them, or keep saying, ‘sorry.’ Normally, we have a much tighter leash when we’re around ‘normies.’ Austin can be hard to handle sometimes, and there you can almost relax. You don’t have to explain yourself.’
Very neat and a very thoughtful way to extend the Chuck E. Cheese experience for everyone. :)— Socialnn Austin (@socialnn) April 7, 2018
Chuck E. Cheese's designed the program with the help of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), who have also contributed to special needs-centered programs at trampoline parks and teen dances.
Here's a list of participating locations! Well done, Chuck E.!