Ryan stayed in from recess for a few minutes today because Chuckie Cheese was walking around outside. Now when Ryan told me this I started laughing. Ryan's love-hate relationship with Chuckie Cheese has been a long standing thing, since he made his first visit to Chuckie Cheese at the age of two. Ryan has always thought that Chuckie Cheese is fun but has been limited by his sensory problems.
Chuckie Cheese is a land of sensory overload for any child. The place is jammed packed with lights, sounds, smells, and people. The ultimate challenge for Ryan. The first time we went was for my niece's third birthday. Ryan spent the whole two hour party playing statue on my shoulder. His eyes were closed but he was not sleeping. He was not moving. I could tell he was not sleeping because his breathing was actually slower. He did not move for the entire party. His therapist told me he could not handle the environment so in a way his body just shut down. The moment we went through the doors towards our car, Ryan lifted his head and smiled really big. he looked at me and said "All Done" then got down and ran towards our car. Ryan never shut down again. It was the only time he did that and it scared me to death.
I made it my goal to get Ryan use to Chuckie Cheese. So next I brought him when we were the only ones in the whole establishment. Ryan screamed the minute we got there so I told him I had to use the bathroom and I forced him to come inside and wait a minute. Then we left. We repeated this every time we were near Chuckie Cheese. Eventually he stopped crying.
Then I branched out and had him play one game. It was ski ball. The whole time he would look frantically around him for any sign Chuckie the Mouse was around. Ryan has always been terrified of characters.
We slowly got him use to Chuckie Cheese. It took a long time and Ryan still can not calm down when we are there. He loves playing the arcade games but the whole time we are there he is on high alert. His eyes are bugged out and he frantically hurries through his games. The first time my Mom saw Ryan at Chuckie Cheese she laughed so hard because of Ryan's facial expressions.
I know that if Ryan did not have sensory processing disorder Chuckie Cheese would probably be his favorite place. I have always taken the philosophy that I wanted Ryan to not be left out of experiences because of his disorder so I have always forced him to do certain things. Whether this is the right path or not is almost impossible to tell. It is just the path I took. It has made me look like a horrible mother plenty of times. Such as staying with my screaming child through birthday parties, swim lessons, t-ball games, beach outings, movie theatres, and of course Chuckie Cheese. Ryan has grown to enjoy all of these things but it just took him time to get use to them.