1st Edition

Multiple Multisensory Rooms: Myth Busting the Magic

By Joanna Grace Copyright 2020
    196 Pages
    by Speechmark

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    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.

    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