Chuck E. Cheese has resumed its Sensory Sensitive Sundays program, which had been on pause because of the pandemic, to give children with autism a more inclusive space to play.
The program's relaunch Sunday coincided with Autism Acceptance Month.
“Every child deserves a place where they feel safe,” said Zoila Gonzalez, the assistant manager of the Grand Prairie Chuck E. Cheese location.
Every first Sunday, bright lights and sounds are dimmed for two hours before doors open for children with autism and special sensory needs like 6-year-old Jolina Trung.
“I thought this might be a perfect time for her, two hours before, just for her to experience activities hands-on,” said Jolina's mother, Sandy Ngo.
Ngo said sometimes public outings are cut short and her daughter can get overwhelmed.
“There are certain sounds that she’s sensitive to," Ngo said. "This is really perfect for her. She’s not overstimulated or overreacting in a way."
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Before the pandemic, nearly a dozen kids and their families would go each month to Sensory Sensitive Sundays, Gonzalez said.
While this is Jolina and her mother's first time, it won’t be the last.
“I’m loving how much fun she’s having,” Ngo said.
Chuck E. Cheese is also launching a month-long campaign to benefit Autism Speaks. Guests can donate by rounding up their purchase to the nearest dollar.
For more information about which locations of Chuck E. Cheese are participating in Sensory Sensitive Sundays, visit their website.