In honor of World Autism Awareness Day, which is on Sunday, April 2, Chuck E. Cheese’s has announced the launch of an initiative to help make their establishments much more autism spectrum-friendly and accessible.
They released a press statement on Tuesday, March 28 introducing a national expansion of Sensory Sensitive Sundays, an effort to create a more inclusive environment for children on the autism spectrum, while partnering with the Center for Autism Related Disorders to help create the new approach. This comes with apt timing, right after Legoland Park released a similar announcement as a welcome update to their park’s policies.
Sensory Sensitive Sundays aims to give children with autism spectrum disorders the opportunity to experience all the fun of visiting Chuck E. Cheese’s in a much more sensory-friendly environment. This will be offered two hours before the restaurant opens for its normal hours, and it involves “smaller crowds, dimmed lighting, the show and music turned down or off, and limited appearances of costumed characters, all of which makes for an environment more suitable for children who face sensory challenges,” according to their press release.
The initiative was first introduced earlier this year as a test-run for a span of three months at locations in the Northeast, and it received an immense amount of positive feedback. “The reaction from parents impacted by this program has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Ami Anderson, the senior director of advertising and media at CEC Entertainment, adding, “we’ve heard over and over again from families that it’s so rewarding to be able to watch their children enjoy Chuck E. Cheese’s.”
While Sensory Sensitive Sundays will be a staple program at 355 participating locations all around the country, Chuck E. Cheese’s is still thinking of ways to improve upon the great work that’s already been done. Through their partnership with CARD, the company will continue to look for ways to expand and grow the program in order to reach and include as many families as they can.
This is a huge step in the right direction, and Anderson agrees that creating initiatives like this is very important. “Chuck E. Cheese’s has always been a place where a kid can be a kid," she says, "so it’s really important to us to ensure that children with autism spectrum disorder or other special needs have the same opportunity to enjoy the experience of visiting Chuck E. Cheese’s and other establishments as their peers do.”