Snoezelen Multi-Sensory Room

I first heard of Snoezelen multi-sensory environment rooms when we lived in Watertown, New York while we were stationed at Ft. Drum.  Brian went to a wonderful inclusive preschool there and they had their own Snoezelen room that Brian loved.  When I was being given a tour of the preschool before Brian started, I instantly fell in love with this room.  Everything about it draws you in….the soothing music, the light show being projected onto a wall, the bubble tubes, the fiber optic lights, the soft padded floors, mirrors, interactive devices and so much more.  The minute I stepped into this sensory room, I knew I had to make one at home for Brian.

Snoezelen rooms started when two Dutch therapists, Jan Hulsegge and Ad Verheul, were experimenting with a sensory tent in the 1970s.  Their aim was to increase enjoyment for individuals with intellectual abilities by stimulating all their senses in a relaxing environment.  After a hugely successful weekend, they started fundraising to implement the installation of Snoezelen rooms in the UK.  The first Snoezelen room in the United States was built in 1992 in New York City.  Snoezelen rooms can now be found in many places and offer an enriching and stimulating environment for so many people.  To read more about Snoezelen rooms, you can visit http://www.snoezelen.info/. 

 

When we lived in New York, my husband, Morgan, made a bubble tube for Brian.  It pays to marry an engineer!  Ha!

The bubble tube Morgan made for Brian.

The bubble tube Morgan made for Brian.

Brian loved it and Morgan made it so that Brian could change the colors by pressing colored buttons.  That’s one of the amazing things about a sensory room, individuals are able to control their environment and experience different things through all of their sensory routes.  The bubble tube is now set up in our garage because we have wood floors in our home and we’re worried about it being broken and leaking water on the floor since Brian has been a bit rough with his things lately.

Brian has also been able to experience a multi-sensory unit at Huntsville Hospital called VECTA while he’s been in the emergency room or having a test performed.   It’s a portable unit that they can take room to room and it’s been an invaluable resource for us and so many other patients.

VECTA - the hospital's amazing portable sensory machine

VECTA – the hospital’s amazing portable sensory machine

Vanderbilt has multi-sensory units as well, and it makes me so happy to see so many places realize the value of stimulating the senses in a relaxing and enjoyable way to alleviate some of the stress that comes with emergency room visits and tests.  Brian has had so much testing done lately, that I can’t remember if it was Huntsville Hospital or Vanderbilt that brought in an air-tube.  Instead of water and bubbles, the air blew small styrofoam balls up the center of the tube.  Apparently they had been having problems with the bubble tubes leaking, so they were planning on getting the styrofoam ball air tubes in the future.  Now I just need to get my husband to design Brian one of those so we can bring it inside our home.

One of our recent family vacations took us to Dollywood and we were pleasantly surprised to see that they had built a multi-sensory room for visitors to the park that needed to take a sensory break.  Pretty impressive!!!

Sensory room at Dollywood.

 

The main problem with multi-sensory rooms is the expense of all the equipment.  Bubble tubes can cost over $1000 and designing an entire room can easily cost $30,000.  I’m working on ways to drastically cut the cost for our family.  One way in which I’ve done that is to find ways to make our own items such as a crash pad.  Brian’s wonderful occupational therapist told us how to make an affordable crash pad for Brian.  I bought a duvet cover and cut up pool noodles to put inside, and now he has a soft place to relax.

Cut up pool noodles inside a duvet cover provide the perfect place to relax.

Cut up pool noodles inside a duvet cover provide the perfect place to relax.

 

I’m also constantly looking for cushions, pillows, and other tactile things to add to our room.  I went to Five Below the other day and picked up a few pillows and a textured rug that Brian has confiscated and moved to his bedroom.

Brian confiscating the new pillows and rug.

Brian confiscating the new pillows and rug.

 

I’ve been planning this sensory room for a long time now and it keeps getting put on the back burner to more pressing things.  I’m setting a goal for myself to have it completed by the end of this year.

I’d better get busy……

 

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