Multisensory rooms are widely used across the country in schools, care settings, hospitals and homes. Even settings such as football stadiums and airports are installing multisensory environments. Nevertheless, a significant lack of effective research has led to a sense of unease around sensory rooms. This crucial book explores the use of multisensory rooms in order to ease that anxiety; taking the mystery out of multisensory rooms, and supporting the reader to reflect and make the most out of their space.
Key features include:
- Guidance on creating sensory spaces on any budget, to suit any level of need.
- An overview of the history of multisensory rooms, and a detailed exploration of the actual way in which the rooms are used today.
- A framework for evaluating existing practices and equipment, in order to maximise the potential of the room.
- A focus on the practitioner as the most important piece of ‘equipment’ in any sensory room.
Written by a leading sensory specialist in a fully accessible way, this book is an invaluable tool for anybody who uses, or is considering using, a multisensory room.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Peter Imray Foreword by Richard Hirstwood Introduction Orientation Your part in this conversation Address to parents Address to professionals Address to parents and professionals Section One Now back to the story….where did multi-sensory rooms begin? Orientation The institutions of the past The practices of the past A past touching distance away The structures of the past scaffold the present Overview FISH (Find Idea Starters Here) The terms and conditions Orientation Language, labels, prejudice and understanding Let us do away with language We can do it without words With; new times – new terms The days of profound and multiple learning disabilities are numbered What name would you like? #flipthenarrative Overview FISH The Dawning of Snoezelen Orientation A tent pitched on history’s barren grounds Change is defined by ideas, not spaces and objects It is not about the room, it is about the heart Overview One little FISH Five big FISH Regard them with love Know that they are good Assume they are struggling and treat them with compassion Play and be playful View them as able The beginning of multi-sensory rooms Orientation The ownership of snoezelen turns a philosophy into a room The branding of multi-sensory rooms changes how information is shared and provokes the evolution of a new philosophy Debating approaches Overview FISH Rooms multiply like rabbits Orientation The proliferation of multi-sensory rooms and their usage Massive over claims about the efficacy of multi-sensory rooms grow the multi-sensory room industry The proliferation of multi-sensory rooms is about more than money Dangers arise from the misunderstandings Further drivers of the proliferation of multi-sensory rooms Better than nothing Attractive Lack of research Overview FISH Section Two Orientation Why is there a lack of research? Anti research So bad it could be funny A stand-up routine of research fails Fibre optics and bubble tubes hold magical healing properties One person with an additional need represents all people with that need, and two people with additional needs represent anyone and everyone with any kind of additional need. The voice of staff is the voice of everyone The love of multi-sensory rooms is universal and knows no bounds Control groups are not necessary, as one type of additional need is the same as another The magic vanishes at the door Overview FISH What does it all mean? Orientation Unpicking the dark humour The lack of research leaves us vulnerable Are claims that multi-sensory rooms do no harm valid? Funding is not available for other resources. Overview FISH What does the research that is out there tell us about the effectiveness of multi-sensory rooms? Orientation Mixed and mild Mixed results Positive results may be caused by other factors Mild findings It is not all positive We just do not have the proof…and that is scary Research is needed Do we really need it? Overview FISH Section Three Orientation Without research advertising may take the place of knowledge The new era of multi-sensory rooms looks set to repeat the mistakes of the past No one is immune from bias Overview FISH Orientation Is there another way? Nature Behaviour Even if they work are they worth it? Overview FISH Orientation Alternative Spaces Big Spaces A Tremendous Tent A Yomping Yurt An Improvised Tent A Hygge Home A Gorgeous Garden A Withy Wonder Beautiful Blackout Simply Space Superb Shadows Glorious Gazebos Water Worlds Small Spaces Brilliant Brollies Lovely Little Rooms Activity Arches Sequence Strings Happy Hula Hoops and Stupendous Shower Curtains Affordable Why would they want to go into the space? What do I want to explore in this space? Overview FISH Section Four Orientation Report from Research - How are multi-sensory rooms currently being used? Results: Overview table of interviewee responses Noted aspects of the room Overview of themes identified from the interviews Next to no one receives training on how to use a multi-sensory room, but pretty much everyone gets taught how to turn the equipment in a multi-sensory room on and off. Non-directive users of multi-sensory rooms were more likely to see long lasting effects from using the rooms. Multi-sensory rooms are used with the intention of furthering engagement or promoting relaxation. Questions prompted by these findings. Further findings relating to room accessibility. Multi-sensory rooms can be surprisingly inaccessible –design Multi-sensory rooms can be surprisingly inaccessible – usage Overview FISH A detailed look at limiting factors influencing multi-sensory rooms Orientation Trigger happy facilitators Broken items Difficult journeys to the multi-sensory rooms Timetabling Parked Cinemas Tech fear Set up time Containment zones Overview FISH The limitations of my research and the positive findings Orientation The limitations of my research Positive findings Control Darkness Uninterrupted Focused Wowness Overview FISH Section Five Orientation The most important piece of kit It is innate Wheat from chaff A dozen clues Four characteristics of people who do not get it. Toughened Power Ended up here Short thinking Characteristics of people who do get it that are lacking from people who do not get it. Reflective They see personhood as separate to functionality Empathetic Confident Strategies to enable someone who does not get it to get it Feedback Teach in the way they learn Generate awareness: Experience, Micro-steps and Acceptance of difference. Develop their view of their role: moving people on from being stunned or stagnant in their practice. The Wow space Reflecting on the question Why employing on those who get it does not exempt you from needing to provide ongoing support. Overview FISH Focus on the positive Orientation The Sensory Story Developing sensory awareness and ability Hugh learning to see Finding rest Multi-sensory room with pre-school aged children Making connections and gaining independence Learning to reach Learning to look Ready, steady, go! Barry’s story Overview FISH What about the people? Overview Flo Mo In our weakness we find our strength Use according to strengths FISH Discussion Conclusion References
Joanna Grace is a Sensory Engagement and Inclusion Specialist, author, trainer, TEDx speaker and founder of The Sensory Projects. Through her work at The Sensory Projects she seeks to contribute to a future where people are understood in spite of their differences, doing this by sharing the knowledge and creativity required to turn inexpensive items into effective sensory tools for inclusion.
Joanna is an outstanding teacher who has worked supporting students of all abilities in mainstream and special school settings. Her work at The Sensory Projects extends beyond this to include adults and babies. Joanna has been a registered foster carer for children with additional needs. She is an avid consumer of research. When not on tour Joanna spends her time writing from her home in Cornwall in a tiny village with no road names or house numbers.
"Whether you already have a multisensory room at your place of work or home, or you are considering using one, then this book is for you. It is not always a comfortable read, but it is definitely timely and, hopefully, the start of a new move towards bringing the magic back into multisensory rooms."
Mary Atkinson, co-founder of the Story Massage Programme