Sunday, August 1, 2010

#73 - Sensory Overload

I'm sitting here after an evening at Chuck E. Cheese, and the noises are beginning to recede from my head. On Facebook, I half-jokingly posited the question as to what a visit to Chuck E. Cheese would be like for someone who was ADHD. I can't imagine it would be good.

Everywhere you turn you are bombarded with lights and sounds. Upon our arrival tonight, the noise level was almost akin to being in the front row at a rock concert. Mercifully, someone turned down the sound about 15 minutes or so after we arrived.

But those 15 minutes were an experience for us with Christopher. Because of his autism, he is already somewhat susceptible to sensory overload. (Bright fluorescent lights in particular - like those we find at Costco - seem to have a powerful effect.) Couple that with having gone several hours without eating, and it isn't a pretty site. (At that point, Christopher gets what a bit squirrely, as Teresa has termed it, and he does remind one of a squirrel, scurrying here and there.) Christopher was holding tight, first to Teresa, then to me, hanging on for dear life, and it was touch and go whether we would stay.

However, once Christopher had a little pizza in him, things improved and we were able to somewhat enjoy the rest of our stay. The pizza was okay, but a bit lacking in the sauce department. At one point, I held up a piece with visible sauce and joked to Teresa that I had gotten the slice with all the sauce.

Chuck E. Cheese also seems to spare all expense when it comes to beer selection. The two, count 'em two, taps said "Beer" and "Beer". Turns out that Beer 1 is Bud Light and Beer 2 is Budweiser. I guess they don't want to overwhelm customers any more than they already are.

Obviously, children are Chuck E. Cheese's primary demographic, and they reel them in with all sorts of games - from simple games for the youngest to military strategy games for teens and beyond. Games, are also where I suspect the Chuckster makes most of his money.

You spend $5.00 or $10.00 or more for tokens in hopes of winning tickets that you then redeem for prizes that are worth less than the money you spent on tokens. No matter how good you are at the games, judging from the prize selection I saw, Chuck is in no danger of losing money on a single customer.

Still, I suppose it is a pleasant enough diversion for families, although I don't plan a return visit any time soon unless invited by someone else (which is how we came to be there in the first place). For some families, I suspect a trip to Chuck E. Cheese may be the only family interaction they have and then, perhaps, only long enough for their pleading son or daughter to beg then to buy more game tokens. As for me, I'll take a weekend with the family in our fifth wheel over a visit to Chuck E. Cheese every time.

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