Snoezelen for Learning Disabilities
This area of support can be extremely complex. Clients may have a diverse range of need and different diagnoses that impact on how they experience life, the challenges they face, and level of support that they require. The combination of these very unique needs can affect cognition and/or physical functioning.
People may have impaired ability to understand, communicate, or process information, making effective decision making, engaging everyday activities (both leisure and ADLs), socializing and learning new skills, in some cases, very challenging. Support often focuses on trying to enable people to be as independent as possible while being aware of their personal needs.
Multi-Sensory Environments (MSEs) can provide a space where a variety of interventions can be tailored to meet a need (or needs) quickly and easily, whether it be therapeutic, educational, or focused on using sensory equipment to calm, soothe, or stimulate. Object recognition and context, as well as following direction and sequencing activities, for example, can be purposeful goals.
If we take an example of carrying out a specific ADL, such as tying a shoelace for example, one can use an MSE to concentrate on learning this particular activity. A system with projection within the MSE can be tailored to show various multimedia to suit the learning needs of the individual. This can be particularly beneficial. Our clients use these in various ways to suit the user by playing videos of the activity being carried out, using static photographs in sequence, using simple text and words, recognizable symbols/illustrations etc.
Storytelling also can be wonderful in a MSE as the whole room can be used to create an immersive environment. If telling a tale for example, about the sea, small tactile items could be bought into the space such as sand or shells for the user to touch and feel, while the breeze blows (using a fan), an aroma panel emits scent of the sea, the sounds of the sea can be heard, and the whole room can be programmed in blues and yellows. One can supplement this with perhaps words or images from the book.
Again, as with all therapeutic, educational, or play experiences, the limits using an MSE are with the imagination of the facilitator and the possibilities are endless.