What is a SNOEZELEN Multi-Sensory Environment (MSE)?
A “Snoezelen” room is a relaxed, multi-sensory, experiential process, primarily benefitting people with autism or other developmental disabilities: dementia, intellectual disabilities, hyperactive, hearing impaired, visually impaired, children with perception/sensory disorder and/or disturbed social behavior, and psychiatric patients.
Snoezelen–MSE processes can be therapeutic, educational and/or recreational. A variety of modules are designed to connect with different goal groups. All of the processes have universal applications that deliver a broad spectrum of optimal possibilities for enriching quality of life.
“Snoezelen” is a combination of two Dutch words that, when translated, mean ‘to explore’ and ‘to relax.’ The name is sometimes given as a description for a space or “room” that is a dedicated collection of multi-sensory technology, arranged and programmed to create specific environments for experiential learning and/or recreation.
It is common for the term ‘Snoezelen Room’ to be used interchangeably with other names, especially ‘Multi-Sensory Room’ and ‘White Room.’ These additional references went into circulation in recent years, after a single company registered the term ‘Snoezelen’ as their trademark. But fundamentally, they all refer to the same thing. The difference is only a matter of semantics.
The range and capacity for creating and facilitating sensory experiences that engage individuals in therapeutic processes, is only limited by a lack of facility and the access to Snoezelen multi-sensory equipment and materials.
A Snoezelen MSE program, designed with a framework of Gentle Teaching, maximizes the opportunity and mutual benefit for both the mentor (professional caregiver, occupational therapist, etc.) and the individual (mentee), in creating personalized, interactive exercises that develop companionship and a sense of community, delivering therapeutic, quality of life services.
A framework of Gentle Teaching strengthens social-emotional development through relationship-building. A primary element of Gentle Teaching nurtures intrinsic motivation for an individual who discovers new meaning and moral memory for their daily life. A Snoezelen MSE program, based on this teaching philosophy, creates and guides interactions that awaken natural curiosity, exploration, discovery and learning.
Our Snoezelen Room is located in South Bend, Indiana. Interactive multi-sensory equipment is operated by facilitators trained in equipment use and applications that mentor a spirit of gentleness, who guide personalized, therapeutic processes that introduce and integrate outcomes that revolve around the four life lessons of Gentle Teaching: being and becoming safe, loved, loving and engaged.
With Gentle Teaching-based relationships, the technological innovation of a Snoezelen MSE environment engages individuals in meaningful, purposeful exchanges, and is able to mediate feelings of relatedness within these interpersonal relationships.
See Upcoming Events and Education here for information on upcoming Snoezelen certification and training conferences through the International Snoezelen Association.
Snoezelen therapy had its beginnings in Holland in the early 1980’s. The concept was created by Ad Verhul and Jan Hulsegge. They were both experimenting with some new ideas for recreation and relaxation for adults with disabilities, while working as therapists at a center (Haarendael Institute) for people with intellectual disabilities.
Development of the Snoezelen concept continued at the Haarendael Institute, and other applications were explored and produced, extending Snoezelen MSE therapy to seniors and children, people with autism, chronic pain, mental illness, and brain injury.
Today there is growing evidence that the sensory concepts of Snoezelen MSE therapy have enhancement applications for universal aspects of life, with a broad spectrum of potential for enriching quality of life.
Snoezelen MSE facilities and programs can be found throughout the world. As awareness continues to grow, and as more professionals get on board and trained in its educational and relational therapy, access to experiential learning and development for individuals with disabilities becomes an increasing possibility and reality.