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Multi-Sensory Environment F.A.Q.

What Is A Multi-Sensory Environment?

Our senses are important. They tell us about our surroundings and they influence our reactions. In time, they mold our personality and "in a sense" they are what we are. We, therefore, seek to control the things that stimulate our senses. Multi-Sensory equipment gives that control. That is why Multi-Sensory Environments (Snoezelen/Sensory Rooms) are known to produce a wide range of positive results in special populations who often depend on others.

Multi-Sensory Environments (MSEs) provide dedicated, flexible spaces where individuals experience a range of non-patterned visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile stimuli. These rooms are designed to create a feeling of comfort and safety where the individual can relax, explore and enjoy their surroundings.

MSEs vary in their appearance and in the equipment they contain and are designed to meet the needs of a particular client group. Typically the rooms are painted white or a pastel shade which optimizes the effects of the projected light and have blacked out windows to exclude extraneous light. Lighting in the room is dimmed to allow for a separation from normal daily activities and routines and to allow focus to be transferred to the equipment in the room.

Equipment that is common to many MSEs includes:

Bubble Tubes - To provide visual, auditory and tactile sensations.

Fiber Optics Sprays - Long pleasing tactile strands which change color and can be draped or held by the clients.

Projectors - Project moving abstract and detailed images onto the walls, floors, curtains and clients.

Mirror Ball & Pinspot Light - To project moving shapes around the room.

Music System - Music is key to manage the level of arousal in the sensory room.

Aromatherapy Diffuser - The olfactory system is often overlooked but essential to the sensory room process.

Switches - To allow client to control the sensations in the room.

Ball Pools - Provides a excellent method of proprioceptive input whether traditional or resonance.

Waterbeds - Another unique experience that provides proprioceptive input necessary to calm or stimulate.

Positioning furniture - Aids in further relaxation when clients can change from constant positions to the unique shapes of our seating options.

Installing a Multi-Sensory Environment will affect the staff as well as the clients. TFH believes that every staff member can be quickly trained to the the Multi-Sensory Environment safely. The benefits of the Multi-Sensory Environment depend upon the space becoming a part of the life of the facility. Within a few weeks of use, staff will begin to see improvements in the clients using the Multi-Sensory Environment regularly.

How Does A Multi-Sensory Environment Work?

The root philosophy is that everyone is affected by their environment.

This simple idea was developed during the 1970s in Holland where pioneers successfully used music, aroma, and colored lights to improve the behavior of challenging patients in their padded cells. They called this work "Snoezelen" which is often translated as "to sniff" and "to doze". In the United States, the term Multi-Sensory Environments is synonomous with Snoezelen rooms. Multi-Sensory Environments were originally developed as a leisure resource for people with special needs to be both a relaxing and stimulating place that offers failure-free activities where clients can choose control and explore the stimuli around them.

Research has shown that prolonged or frequent restriction of appropriate and understandable stimulation can lead to negative psychological outcomes. Not only the amount, but also the variation of stimulation is important. Monotonous unchanging stimulation can be as negative as no stimulation at all. Physical, sensory and cognitive impairments further reduce the amount of stimulation an individual receives. Impaired cognitive ability also restricts a person's ability to make sense of the stimulation that is received. Such deprivation can lead to negative outcomes such as anxiety, stress, depression, withdrawal and reduced motivation or agitation and disturbed behavior. Specific stimulation of the primary senses in an environment that excludes all extraneous stimulation makes perception and interpretation of those sensations easier for clients to understand and alleviates the effects of deprivation. The stimulation can then be adapted according to the individual responses, thus making the experience increasingly appropriate and positive.

It is often difficult to find recreational activities that are enjoyable and age appropriate for people with special needs. Many conventional therapies from other fields of care are unsuitable for those with multiple physical and mental limitations because they place expections on the client to attempt or achieve something that is potentially beyond their abilities. Also people with limited sensory and psychological stimulation have a limited degree of control and choice in their lives. Multi-Sensory Environments provide the opportunity for these people to take control of their environment in turn providing the opportunity to experience self determination and increased self esteem. 

Who Uses A Multi-Sensory Environment?

A Multi-Sensory Environment is a toolkit which can be utilized in so many ways in classrooms, clinics, and at home. Anyone with sensory issues or diminished senses can benefit from time spent in a sensory room. Age is not a limiting factor. Areas where Multi-Sensory Environments have been effects are:

~ Autism Therapy

~ Severe/Profound/Pervasive Developmental Delay

~ Physical Disabilities

~ Traumatic Brain Injury

~ Alzheimer's/Dementia

~ Occupational Therapy

~ Behavioral Modification

~ Physical Therapy

~ Special Education Programming

~ Learning Disabilities

~ Pain Control

~ Surgical Recovery

                   ....and many more.

TFH has installed over 3,000 Multi-Sensory Environments providing safe and stimulating spaces to special populations in a variety of settings including: at Home, Schools, Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Development Centers, Mental Health Facilities, Autism Programs, Early Childhood Programs, Day Treatment Programs (children & adults), Group Homes, Rehabilitation Centers, Hospices, Memory Care Units and many others.

What Are The Benefits of Multi-Sensory Environments?

There are a wide array of benefits associated with Multi-Sensory Environments. Here are just a few...

~ Control of the environment and other events that influence the user.

~ Relaxation

~ Improved concentration

~ Better social interaction

~ Increased mood

~ Improved hand/eye coordination

~ Development of language

~ Increased opportunity for choice

~ Development of cause and effect

~ Passive stimulation

~ Promote communication and sharing

~ Opportuntiy for human touch

~ Reduction is stereotypical self-stimulating behaviors.

How Much Does A Multi-Sensory Environment Cost?

TFH consultation and design professionals will help you get the most from your budget and space. We have over 20 years experience in designing and installing Multi-Sensory Environments so we know a thing or two about what needs to be considered when developing a sensory room. There may be more than you think, so contact us as early as possible We can pass along valuable advice to architects, builders and especially electricians. A TFH MSE installation typically take less than a week and sometimes we can be in and out in a couple of days.

Cost for a MSE can vary depending on the size of the room and the equipment recommended for the population you serve. You can get started with as little as $1,000 and build from there. Our consultants will work with you to design the most effective sensory room for those you work with and your budget. We have many options to choose from. Get in touch with us, we can help you get started on your Multi-Sensory Environment today!

Call for our free, no obligation consultation at 800-467-6222 (x304).

How Do I Get Started With My Multi-Sensory Environment?

TFH is dedicated to helping you create the Multi-Sensory Environment that will work effectively with your clients. Having done thousands of sensory rooms over the years, we are the leading provider of MSEs worldwide!

We offer a totally free of charge consultation and design facility where we will consult with you either in person, via the telephone or Skype/Facetime and discuss with you what you are trying to achieve, how we an help and offer recommendations. Based on this discussion we will than draw up a scale plan of our proposal and an itemized quotation including, if required, the installation of all the equipment. We also work closely with builders and architects as MSEs need numerous electrical points. We can submit electrical plans for the room as well.

However, these plans are not set in concrete and we are happy to keep working with you until you are completely happy. Once you have confirmed you want to proceed, we will arrange with you a convenient time for us to come in and install the room. When everything is installed to your satisfaction, the sensory room will be ready to go and we will then run through with you and your staff how all the equipment works.

Additional Contact Information:

Brad Felix, MSE National Sales Manager

Tel: 800-467-6222

Cell: 412-715-4503

Email: Brad@tfhusa.com

Click Here to View Our MSE Photo Gallery