What Are Multi-Sensory Rooms?

Multi-Sensory rooms, also known as sensory rooms, are rooms equipped with a range of sensory equipment. Some examples of sensory room equipment include bubble tubes, interactive panels, fibre optic lighting, tactile panels, soft cushioning and sensory lighting. The overarching aims of a sensory room are to aid cognitive and social development and provide therapeutic experiences for a wide range of users such as people with additional needs, children and adults alike.

Multi-sensory rooms are found worldwide and are extremely popular in the UK, but it was the Dutch who came up with the concept during the 1970s, locally known as Snoezelen (a coined phrase that merges ‘sniffing’ and ‘snoozing’). These rooms were made – and still are – to help children and some adults have relaxing and playful experiences in rooms that activated the five senses.

Sensory rooms are designed to give the user control over their senses and make them feel comfortable, while also helping them to explore new feelings of touch, smell, lights and even noises. They include equipment that has been specifically made to be installed within a multi-sensory room, rather than random play equipment that may help people explore their senses.

Multi-sensory rooms have been praised for their array of benefits. Research has found that children improve cognitive development by using sensory equipment and even improve their social skills with others. Additional research has identified other benefits to vulnerable people, such as children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and people with dementia. You can read more on this below!

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How Sensory Equipment Meets Children’s Needs

Children, especially those at a very young age, are highly sensory orientated. Most of their early experiences and thoughts are commanded by what they feel, smell, see, hear and taste. It shapes how their brains develop and how they react to different materials, colours and more.

Sensory equipment is a safe way of introducing children to many different objects and getting them to use their senses frequently. As the aforementioned benefits suggest, this is crucial for their mental wellbeing and their cognitive and social development.

For very young children, introducing new textures and shapes is also a way for them to identify concepts such as danger and teach them how to respond to stimulus safely.