FORT SMITH (KFSM)- Chuck E. Cheese's and the Center for Autism and Related Disorders has joined together to launch Sensory Sensitive Sundays, which aims at creating an atmosphere for children with autism and other special needs.
Angie Ramsey's granddaughters have autism and developmental delays and she said before this event, her granddaughters could not come to places like Chuck E. Cheese's.
"Regular times when there's so many people here, she can't be here for more than a few minutes," Ramsey said. "When it's just the few people and the noises are low and the lights are low, she can enjoy herself and be herself."
During Sensory Sensitive Sundays, locations will lower lighting, turn off the show and music, and open the restaurant two hours early for kids who face sensory challenges to have fun.
"The biggest thing is the music," said Melanie Hensley, the children's mother.
Hensley's son has Sensory Processing Disorder and she said noisy places are an issue for her son.
"He does not like loud noises," Hensley said. "We have to wear noise canceling headphones. When there's a lot of children around, he wants to hide. It's too much of an overload."
For Ramsey's granddaughter with autism, noises affect her the same way.
"It's overpowering and overwhelming for her," Ramsey said. "The noises will make her have anxiety and she will cover her ears and it just makes her go into like a shell."
Family members are now excited to share this new experience together.
"For my autistic granddaughter, it helps her also be around other people who are autistic like her and helps her to make new friends," Ramsey said.
All the families agree, their first Sensory Sensitive Sunday was a success.
"Not having the loud music and the fact that it's a lot quieter made it a lot easier," Hensley said. "He feels comfortable enough to actually get out and wanna do stuff."
The Fort Smith, Fayetteville, and Rogers locations will all be participating in Sensory Sensitive Sunday. The events are scheduled for the first Sunday of each month.
The next event will be on Sunday, April 2 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Chuck E. Cheese's first launched the idea in Attleboro, Massachusetts. After a successful run, the organizations expanded Sensory Sensitive Sundays to include 54 other restaurants nationwide, including Arkansas.
For more dates and information about the new launch, visit Chuck E. Cheese's website.