KellyAnn Roush, MS, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist

In the Special Kids Therapy Center, there is a sensory room called a "Snoezelen". This fun name, “Snoezelen,” refers to a controlled area that is a multi-sensory environment. This room can be used with children and adults of all ages, many diagnoses, and abilities.

How are sensory rooms used?

Sensory rooms can include many types of equipment and manipulatives that incorporate different sensory systems such as hearing, pressure, seeing, and touch, to name a few.

The room may be used to educate, stimulate, relax, calm, or energize, as a multi-sensory experience or single sensory focus, simply by adapting the lighting, atmosphere, sounds, and textures to the needs of the patient at the time of use.

What do sensory rooms include?

There are many functions within one Snoezelen room, and each component has the ability to create a unique experience for each individual. Below is a highlight of the equipment used in the Special Kids Snoezelen room:

Wall and Floor Cushions – Padding on the walls and floors of the sensory room allows the user to safely and independently explore their environment without the need to worry about sharp corners and hard surfaces.

Projector – Projection is highly recommended for essential Snoezelen work. The simple changing shapes of color and gentle patterns require little intellectual concentration. This allows the individual to relax with the image without the need to predict or decipher the shapes or patterns of objects.

Bubble Tubes – Bubble Tubes provide multi-sensory feedback and stimulate the visual system, facilitating a patient’s ability to track bubbles and objects. The constant effects of color change are also useful for promoting color recognition and visual perception. Further, gazing at a tube may enhance a patient’s level of relaxation. Touching the tube offers tactile feedback as patients feel the vibratory sensations shiver through their hands. Additional visual stimuli can be added in the form of plastic fish or balls.

Bubble Wall Panel – Snoezelen wall panels can be used passively as a visual stimulus or interactively to teach cause and effect and color recognition. A bubble wall panel is a panel and a bubble tube in one! Watch the bubbles move and colors change, or control these interactively with the color switches.

Fiber Optics - Fiber optic strands are visually appealing and highly tactile! Lie on them. Wrap your body in them. Stroke them gently with your fingers. These are an extremely effective method of providing visual and tactile stimulation, especially for those with limited verbal ability.

Color Switch – The Color Switch promotes inclusivity, choice, control, and accessible learning. It makes choosing and turn-taking fun and accessible to all, including people with fine/gross motor skill difficulties and/or visual impairment. Some color switches have extendable cords that can be pulled out/pushed into the switch apparatus, while others are cordless.

Tent – The tent in the sensory room allows the user to feel secure, while participating in purposeful play opportunities. Enclosed spaces provide a soothing and distraction free environment, which enables the user to increase attention to various activities. Tents are also a safe, non-threatening way to teach transitioning.

Why are sensory rooms important and why are they important in regards to occupational therapy?

Sensory rooms are important because of the endless opportunities for sensory-based input, changes to alertness, and social interactions they can offer to a vast majority of patients, regardless of the different needs of each person. Sensory rooms and occupational therapy are alike, and important, as each are both tailored to the needs and focus of improvement of each person to bring them to the highest level of ability and tolerance that they can be.

To learn more, below are recommended references:

References are for informational purposes only and they are not intended to replace physician and/or occupational therapy treatment(s).