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Jul-03-2009 05:30printcomments

New Room at Providence Center Provides Sensory Stimulation for Medically Fragile Children‏

Snoezelen rooms are used widely in education and care settings for children with disabilities and autism spectrum disorders.

Snoelezen room at Providence Hospital, Portland, Ore.
Photos of Snoelezen room courtesy: Paula Negele/Providence Hospital

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Bubble tubes, fiber optic strands, flashing colors, mirrors, sound, lights and vibration – put it all together and what do you have? A Snoezel

en room! This multi-sensory environment was built specifically for the residents at Providence Center for Medically Fragile Children.

A combination of lighting effects, shapes, textures, music and colors are strategically placed in the room to stimulate the senses for people with severe sensory impairment or neurological challenges.

The new room is empowering for the 58 children at the center with severe medical needs, who cannot speak or move on their own.

The Snoezelen room allows them to absorb what’s going on around them and create their own experience.

The word “snoezelen” is a contraction of two Dutch verbs: “snuffelen,” meaning “to seek out or explore,” and “doezelen,” which means “to relax.”

The snoezelen concept was defined in the late 70s by two Dutch therapists, Jan Hulsegge and Ad Verheul.

Through their creation of a sensory environment, they learned that hearing, sight, taste, smell and touch were enhanced in people who had intellectual disabilities.

Karen Nagao, occupational therapist at Providence Child Center, had previously worked in a facility that housed a multi-sensory environment and saw the benefits.

Nagao teamed up with the center’s recreation therapist, Elizabeth Sullivan to plan and develop grants to fund a Snoezelen room at Providence Child Center.

After more than two years of work, the elements recently have been installed in an area off the center’s multipurpose room and staff members are incorporating this activity into therapy programs.

“The Snoezelen room can offer new ways to reach these kids,” said Nagao. “It can calm them, teach them how to use assistive devices, and give them a place to just be and explore.”

Snoezelen rooms are used widely in education and care settings for children with disabilities and autism spectrum disorders.

Encouraging results have also been shown with people suffering from dementia such as Alzheimer's, as well as for those in chronic pain, acquired brain injury and other conditions.

In addition, Snoezelen is gaining momentum in the mainstream population as an antidote to stress.

The Snoezelen room at Providence Center for Medically Fragile Children was made possible with help from the Stimson Miller Foundation.

The room will be open for viewing during a special tour of the child center at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 14th.

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