We all love to escape at times from our mundane life to a place that helps us relax and rejuvenate. But what if a simulated environment does the same thing as a therapy for those with sensory, cognitive and developmental disabilities?
Imagine being in a room illuminated only by a light up ball pit, with decorated lights dancing across the wall and ceiling, fiber-optic ropes draped over a swinging chair and psychedelic patterns projected on the walls, the reverberations of the sea waves playing in the background and the fragrance of lavender in the air. This is a SNOEZELEN ROOM. Its effect is both stimulating and soothing, and for many people, as we would find out in this article, it can be therapeutic too.
During the late 1970s two Dutch therapists; Jan Hulsegge and Ad Verheul experimented with a sensory tent at the DeHartenburg Institute in the Netherlands. The goal was to increase enjoyment and sensory experience for those with intellectual disabilities. The result of a one-weekend fair was overwhelmingly positive for both verbal and non-verbal patients. The term Snoezelen® was coined soon after. SNOEZELEN (which is pronounced "snoozlin") sounds a bit like what it means. It is derived from the Dutch words “snuffelen” (to seek and explore) and “doezelen” (to relax). A Snoezelen room is a controlled multi-sensory environment (MSE); displaying optical illusions with combined lighting effects, aromas, colors, textures and sounds to stimulate a person’s olfactory, auditory and gustatory systems.
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