Monday, January 17, 2011

Chuckie the Mouse

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.


  1. I feel for Ryan! I took Fraser and Hammie to Chuck E. Cheese once for a birthday party and that was quite enough for me. They were fine, but I had a headache for a week. I also agree with Ryan that the life size rat is creepy. You are an excellent mother to work so hard for him!

  2. Hi Zandy,
    I have to admit that expecting our children to hug giant oversized rats that are half dressed is a little creepy :) I think the creepiest mascot is The King from Burger King. He completely creeps me out.

  3. I took my twin sons to the Mall last weekend (17 months old) for a much needed outing since we had been snowed in for a couple of weeks. My son Ethan has always loved to go to the mall, the lights, people, things to touch!! Nicolas on the other hand is completely opposite. I remember even as an infant he would just snuggle down (either in his stroller or in our arms) and go to sleep while at the mall. Didn't really care to see new things like his brother. This weekend though he just shut down. He look as if we wanted to go to go to sleep but just sat there in the stroller with that "glazed over" look. I laid him down and pulled the canopy down so he wasn't visually stimulated but that didn't seem to make him feel any better. He finally broke down crying and I held him and squeezed him tight and he calmed down, but he was still overwhelmed and didn't want to be there. We got back to the car and he finally gave me a small smile and fell asleep, somewhere familiar to him. He slept on the whole drive home and we come in the door and he just smiles and giggling and wants to play now. He was just SO delighted!!! I hadn't been able to get him to smile during our whole trip out!! Our experience reminded me of reading this post by you. Thanks for sharing. I don't know what to do next time, just leave him home with daddy or try to get him used to it. It's not like we go do that very often. I just felt bad that he was so unhappy.

  4. The almost asleep thing really freaked me out. With trying to figure out what to do the next time just do what you feel comfortable with. Sometimes there are more important things to work on. It is impossible to work on everything at once. Just take it slow. We have been working on the characters for a while and actually on Valentine's Day Ryan took a picture with a character and loved it! Now he keeps asking me to bring him to Chuckie Cheese so he can meet the mouse. We plan on going tomorrow. Over time things change. It just takes time.