The Snoezelen Room provides children a place to relax and explore
Snoezelen (pronounced “SNOOZE-len) is a form of therapy that offers sensory stimulation and relaxation to children. Developed by Dutch therapists (the name combines Dutch verbs snuffelen, to explore, and doezelen, to relax) the area provides a safe, non-threatening environment that fosters relaxation, cooperation and participation. The room is a virtual smorgasbord of colorful objects that beg to be touched, orbiting pictures and neon lights, soothing music and gentle vibrations that can soothe the body and reduce stress.
Benefits of Snoezelen therapy include:
Improved attention and memory
“The room can provide different experiences depending on the unique situation of the patient,” said Heidi Giese, BS, CCLS, CTRS, CIMI, Child Life manager who spearheaded the efforts to bring the concept to Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. “We are able to assess the children before they come in to decide how much stimulation or relaxation they need, and adjust the controls accordingly.”
For instance, children with brain injuries, like Jersey, who is from upper Michigan, initially need low stimulation, while children with autism often want to do things repeatedly. “We recently had a little boy who could not see or hear, and he loved sitting on the vibration / heating mat and putting his arms around the bubble tube. It immediately calmed him down,” Giese said. “Snoezelen can also be used for pain management issues, using guided imagery to take children to their own special place. This can help them cope better when they have to go back to the outside world for procedures. We also plan to use it for end-of-life care.”
The Snoezelen room also gives children the chance to make their own choices as they explore things on their own. “So many times the patient’s days are scheduled out with times for speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy and medical tests,” Giese said. “In here, they can choose and control what they want to do. It’s their own special world.”
Jersey clearly was awed by her experiences and was having fun exploring all of the multi-sensory stations. What she didn’t know was that by hitting buttons to change colors and sounds, she was also working on her balance; by pulling the lighted fiber optic rope strands over her head, she was building strength in her right arm.
More importantly, she was able to control what she wanted to do and take some time out of her therapies and medical procedures to relax, laugh and replenish her indomitable spirit.
The Snoezelen Room, funded by Children’s Miracle Network, is the only room of its kind in north central Wisconsin.