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History of Multi-Sensory Rooms (MSRs)

In the late 1970’s, two Dutch psychologists developed the idea of Snoezelen Rooms, initially as a therapy for those with learning disabilities. Over time this initial idea has merged with the use of a wide range of multi-sensory stimulation to provide special environments for people with a variety of disabilities, disorders and conditions including dementia, autism, intellectual disability, brain injury, chronic pain, and for those in palliative care. The terms Snoezelen Rooms, White Rooms and Multi-Sensory Rooms tend to be used interchangeably but, as the term ‘Snoezelen’ is now a registered trademark of an English sensory equipment supplier, we prefer to use the name Multi-Sensory Room or MSR.

At Special Haven the Multi-Sensory room will be a dedicated room that aids in the removal of stresses of the outside world. It is an artificially created space that brings together multi-sensory equipment in one place to stimulate or calm the senses. There are about six commonly used types of multi-sensory rooms. These include the white room, dark room, sound room, interactive room, water room, and soft play room. These wonderful environments promote pleasure and/or feelings of well-being and can be an essential part of the learning or treatment experience, as well as for leisure and relaxation.

A multi-sensory room also provides Controlled Sensory Input (CSI), which is especially designed to promote choice, interaction, and relationships through planned stimulation of the senses. Multi-Sensory environments have been shown to help individuals with autism, brain injury, challenging behaviors, dementia, developmental disabilities, mental illness, palliative care, pre and post-surgery, PTSD and special education, some apparatus will have vibrational effects to include children and adults with hearing impairment and, of course, wellness.

The room will aim to maximize a person’s potential to focus and then initiate and react in a meaningful, productive way to situations, things, and people in their environment. A multi-sensory environment can be instrumental in changing behavior, increasing focus and attention and adding to the feelings of positive self-esteem and well-being, but most of all it will be an oasis of calm and a safe place to have fun.

Special Haven will provide a tactile experience through sound, aroma, touch and visual effects in many combinations and variations. It will also enable children with any degree of disability to change and influence their own environment in a positive way through technology.

The overactive can be calmed, the inactive become interested. The partially sighted can see the vivid moving colors. Those who are mobile can chase the slowly moving images. The whole room can change color by applying pressure to simple switches or pressure pads. Colors can move or change simply by making a noise, and for those with severe special needs the sensory room can be set to automatically change programs, giving a constantly changing and interesting environment.

Special Haven will fill an ever-growing need for the Special needs Community in Antioch and the surrounding towns.

To get an idea of what Special Haven is all about please view this video by, The Christopher Douglas Hidden Angel Foundation, who help non-profit organizations like Special Haven build multi-sensory rooms.

Their video nicely shows what we are striving to achieve and why:

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