Snoezelen rooms are highly specialized multisensory rooms designed to create a soothing and stimulating atmosphere for individuals with sensory processing disorders, developmental disabilities, or other special needs. The term “Snoezelen” is a blend of two Dutch words: “snuffelen,” meaning to seek out or explore, and “doezelen,” meaning to doze or relax.
Made up of a variety of features designed to engage different senses such as sight, sound, and touch, these rooms are now commonly found in schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centers and a number of other healthcare facilities.
Who Needs Snoezelen Rooms?
There are a variety of reasons why an individual or a group of individuals might benefit from a Snoezelen environment versus a regular padded calming room. Oftentimes, assessing the potential sensory needs and individual responses to varying environments is the best first step in making this assessment.
These rooms are designed primarily for those suffering from sensory processing disorders, developmental disabilities, or those who may experience heightened sensitivity to sensory stimuli.
Bright lights, pungent smells, and certain textures have all proven to be trigger points for those in need of a more sensory-friendly environment such as a Snoezelen Room. The calming design of these rooms are also beneficial for those who suffer from emotional regulation, anxiety and a variety of stressors.
In many cases, these rooms are relied upon by those on the autism spectrum who not only have difficulty with sensory integration, but also have communication and behavior challenges. These rooms allow these types of individuals to effectively calm themselves in a soothing and not overly stimulating environment.
It’s also worth noting that these rooms are no longer reserved for children and adolescents. Much progress has been made in the overall use and associated benefits of these rooms with patients ranging into old age. For patients suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, these rooms have proven to provide adequate sensory stimulation and enhance their overall well-being.
There are several best practices for Snoezelen rooms to ensure that they are effective and provide a positive sensory experience. These practices may vary depending on individual needs and preferences, but there are some general guidelines that should be followed.
Professional guidance is perhaps the most important practice to follow when planning a new Snoezelen environment. Seeking guidance from occupational therapists or other healthcare professionals is the first step in getting a truly individualized assessment of what is needed.
With specific requirements in hand, these professionals can help recommend the right amount of lighting, sensory stimulants and overall layout.
You’ll also want to ensure that the room follows all safety protocols. While this will undoubtedly be covered off by any healthcare professional who helps with recommendations, it’s important to ensure that all regulations and safety codes are followed.
Given the shared nature of these rooms, the flexibility and overall customization required should not be overlooked. The ability to make the room adaptable to a variety of preferences is one that will ensure the safety, happiness and relaxation of all who might be using it.
Finally, training should be provided for all new users of Snoezelen Rooms. With on-going innovation in the space, it’s important that an understanding of the equipment and potential reaction by those using it is enforced. These rooms are designed with the end-user in mind and it is critical that all those utilizing them know what signs to look for and adjust accordingly.
If you’re considering the need for a Snoezelen room, it’s essential to consult with healthcare professionals, therapists, or educators who specialize in sensory processing or related fields. They can conduct assessments, observe behaviors, and provide guidance on whether a Snoezelen room might be a suitable intervention.