ATLANTA — April is National Autism Awareness Month. As part of efforts to raise awareness, entertainment giant Chuck E. Cheese hosted a Sensory Sensitive Sunday at more than 400 locations across the U.S. and Canada.
The participating Chuck E. Cheese's opened their doors two hours early to create a playtime for children with autism and other special sensory needs. This offered kids a more quiet dining and entertainment environment, dimmed lighting, and a sensory-friendly arcade experience.
Georgia mother Nikeria Norton took her son to the event at a local Chuck E. Cheese. She said her son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2.
"I think it's really good... because kids with different abilities get to run around and be themselves," Norton said.
The event began in 2016 as a partnership with The Center for Autism and Related Disorders.
“We take a great deal of pride and care in supporting families and children living with autism with our Sensory Sensitive Sundays,” CEC Entertainment Chief Marketing Officer Sherri Landry said. “Chuck E. Cheese is the place Where Every Kid Can Be A Kid, and we work to ensure all kids can experience the joy and wonder of Chuck E. Cheese by offering understanding, inclusion and acceptance through this program.”
Throughout April, guests at Chuck E. Cheese can also round-up their purchases or donate to Autism Speaks at checkout. All contributions will go toward Autism Speaks research, advocacy efforts, programs and services.
“Our partnership with Chuck E. Cheese is instrumental in helping us realize our vision of a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential,” Autism Speaks President and CEO Keith Wargo said. “By demonstrating care and understanding through the Sensory Sensitive Sundays program, and encouraging guests to be aware and contribute, Chuck E. Cheese is helping move the needle for families living with autism.”