What is a Snoezelen® room?
It’s a relaxing multi-sensory experience. The room incorporates all of the senses. It can help reduce anxiety and agitation with calming music, scents, and more. The lights and tactile engagement can also engage children and hold their attention by stimulating their senses. The word snoezelen comes from the Dutch words snuffelen, to explore and doezelen, to relax.
Who should use a multi-sensory room?
The room can be adapted for all ages and abilities. Everyone from young children learning about their senses to the elderly with dementia who need something to occupy their time can use a Snoezelen® room.
They can be used by children with autism, sensory processing disorders, or challenging behavior who need a space to calm down. The room is also great for engaging children with physical, mental, or learning disabilities. Some hospitals with a Snoezelen® room use it for pediatric patients and those in occupational therapy.
What are the benefits of a multi-sensory room?
These rooms offer several potential benefits. Some that have been seen in studies include:
- Improved mood
- Reduced aggression
- Increased self-esteem
- Expanded understanding of the environment and cause and effect
- Increased verbal and non-verbal communication
How much does a multi-sensory room cost?
Do you think one of these rooms could help your child? One of the reasons that these rooms are rare and tend to be seen in hospitals or schools is the high cost. A Snoezelen® room could cost as much as $30,000. But, with some creativity, you can create a multi-sensory room (MSR) at home for a lot less money.
How to Create a Multi-Sensory Room on a Budget
The first step should be to decide how much you want to spend and which room you plan to use. This will help you figure out how much space you’ll have so you don’t buy too many things.
What can you repurpose?
Think about what you already have at home that can be added to the space. Most rooms limit light, do you have curtains that could be used to cover the window? The same curtains could be used to create a hidden nook in a corner. Christmas lights, especially flashing options, can be used as visual stimuli. Once you know what you have, you can start deciding what you should buy.
Some of the mainstays of Snoezelen rooms are fiber optic lights, projectors, and bubble tubes. You might already have a projector at home. They can be used to display calming ocean scenes or bright geometric patterns. Another option is to use a TV screen instead.
The other two objects are often pricy additions, but have real benefits. Fiber optic LED lights hold attention and can be touched for a hands-on experience. The controller helps with color recognition and puts the user in charge. It’s our most expensive suggestion, but many find it’s worth the cost.
Bubble tubes can also be expensive, but a radiance floor lamp is a budget friendly alternative. The color changing light refracts off of rocks, creating a visual spectacle that doesn’t break the bank. A shatterproof mirror can enhance all the effects.
Many rooms have padded walls and floors, but a carpeted room or large rug and some fun places to sit can be used instead. A crash pad is a large pillow that is placed on the floor. Two cheaper alternatives? You can use a body pillow instead or make your own by filling a duvet cover with pool noodles and foam. Another comfortable seat? Try a stability disc for a fun tactile experience.
Ball pits are another enjoyable addition to a multi-sensory room. Save money by purchasing balls and dumping them in an inflatable kiddie pool for a DIY ball pit.
Let’s Get Tactile
There are lots of low-cost alternatives that provide tactile engagement. Bumpy sensory balls, mesh covered foam balls, and crystal bead balls all provide different sensations. They’re small enough to store when not in use or to take along in the car. Let your child hold, toss, or squeeze them for a relaxing experience.
Therapy putty is another fun sensory toy. Try glitter putty for something that also captivates the visual senses. It can be squeezed, rolled, and pulled.
A vibrating snake is another option.
The vestibular system provides balance and is used to tell the body about movement. An indoor swing can provide relaxation to some children who enjoy the gentle pressure and swinging motions.
Essential oils are often used to engage the child’s sense of smell in a multi-sensory room. Lavender in particular can have a calming effect, while peppermint boosts concentration.
Interacting with the Room
One of the most important features of a Snoezelen® Room is that the experience is entirely user directed. Your child should be able to decide what objects to interact with and when they want to switch to the next activity.
Large Jelly Bean Twist Buttons make it easier for those with disabilities and limited mobility to press the switch. Use them with the lights or battery-operated toys.
If your child needs more help, take this time to encourage social interaction by talking to them and taking cues from their body language.
A Snoezelen® Multi-Sensory Room can be created on a budget. While most rooms cost $30,000, you could DIY for under $2,000 if you choose to forgo fiber optic lights.
If that still seems like a stretch, you can start small. Purchase a few items to create a sensory corner and expand your choices over time. That way you can figure out what your child likes and base future purchases off your new knowledge.
Bemis, Elizabeth. (2013). The Benefits of a Snoezelen Room for Alzheimer’s Care. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2A0W8KA
Borland, Ingrid. (2010). The effectiveness of Snoezelen sensory-based behavioural therapy on individuals with Dementia. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2mCBGpx
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