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Snoezelen: A Multi-Sensory Experience

For a video of Green River's very own SNOEZELEN Room, please visit the following link:



A "SNOEZELEN" Room incorporates a specialized selection of sensory equipment and materials that may help students adapt their responses to sensory stimulation and to advance education and therapy goals. Each "SNOEZELEN" Room is tailored to meet the needs of specific populations according to age and ability. The blend of sights, sounds, textures, aromas, and motion provide stimulation of the primary sensory systems and may be modified to meet each participant’s sensory needs.

A "SNOEZELEN" Room is designed to offer individuals with special needs and challenging conditions the opportunity to exercise choice through action. These safe¸ non-threatening environments bridge cognitive, perceptual¸ behavioral¸ and physical impairments¸ as well as other limiting conditions to provide a sense of empowerment. Moreover these environments allow students to enjoy a wide range of sensory experiences—either passively or actively—that enhance therapy¸ learning¸ and relaxation. Further, in a "SNOEZELEN" Room¸ students choose the experiences that give them the most pleasure. Participants interact freely with the different components to create positive environments, control the level of sensory stimuli, adapt responses to sensory stimulation, experience easier transition to task, and perform and behave in a more functional manner.


Items to stimulate the visual system such as Bubble TubesFiber Optics, and Solar Range Projectors with Effect Wheels/Cassettes.

A variety of mats, cushion, and textures that stimulate the tactile system. Many providing vibratory input or deep pressure.

Different sounds and smells to stimulate the auditory, olfactory, and gustatory systems. Examples including relaxing music and aromatherapy centers.

Products for the master systems and fundamental targets in Sensory Integration Therapy—proprioception and vestibular motion—such as ball pools, weighted items, rockers, and swings.

Soft furnishings and wall padding for positioning, safety, and comfort. 

In addition, a SNOEZELEN Room often affords an opportunity for the student and the teacher to improve communication, enhance their understanding of each other, and build trust in their relationship! 


The concept of SNOEZELEN was defined in the late 1970s by two Dutch therapists, Jan Hulsegge and Ad Verheul while they were working at the De Hartenberg Institute in Holland, a center for people with intellectual disabilities. At the Institute’s annual summer fair, Hulsegge and Verheul set up an experimental sensory tent filled with simple effects such as a fan blowing shards of paper, ink mixed with water and projected onto a screen, musical instruments, tactile objects, scent bottles, soaps, and flavorful foods. It was a tremendous success, especially with low-functioning clients who demonstrated positive verbal and non-verbal feedback. The therapists called this multi-sensory experience “snoezelen,” a contraction of the Dutch verbs “snuffelen” (to seek out or explore) and “doezelen” (to relax).

Whittington Hall

In the early days¸ the selection of commercially available products for use with SNOEZELEN was limited and adapted mostly from other purposes. This changed when ROMPA® International. a UK-based company and current owners of the SNOEZELEN® trademark, created a full-range of products specifically designed to interact with clients and elicit sensory responses.

Joe Kewin, a senior manager at Whittington Hall (a large institution for adults with intellectual disabilities located in North Derybshire, UK), and his team had been following the experiences of Hulsegge and Verheul with great interest. After an intensive fund-raising effort, Kewin and his team worked with ROMPA to design a multi-facetted SNOEZELEN Center at Whittington Hall in 1987. Whittington Hall became the premier SNOEZELEN installation in the UK and the pioneer in early research.


SNOEZELEN has now grown into a worldwide movement in over 30 countries with thousands of installations. From the first U.S. and Canadian installations in 1992 at Lifespire™ in New York City and the Bloorview Kids Rehab in Toronto, to state-of-the-art stand-alone facilities like the Lacey A. Collier SNOEZELEN Complex and the SNOEZELEN Center at Orange Grove, momentum for SNOEZELEN continues to build as we better understand the responses of people with disabilities to these stimulating and fascinating multi-sensory environments.

The Lacey A. Collier SNOEZELEN Complex was dedicated on November 29, 2005. Located on the Escambia Westgate School campus in Pensacola, Florida, this extraordinary 14,600-square-foot facility features a large atrium, sensory hallway, four 1,100-square-foot themed rooms (Jungle, Space, Magic, and Snow), and utility spaces.

Also in 2005, The SNOEZELEN Center at Orange Grove, a community provider of comprehensive services for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities and developmental delays based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, opened. Orange Grove has teamed with the Research Consortium at the University of Tennessee to gather essential data that moves beyond anecdotal research towards hard-core data that solidifies and substantiates the therapy benefits of SNOEZELEN Multi-Sensory Environments.

While originally furthered as a separate environment, SNOEZELEN has also been developed in other settings. In nursing homes, schools, and facilities where space is at a premium, some users have installed SNOEZELEN MSE corners or purchased mobile SNOEZELEN MSE options such as the SNOEZELEN À La Carte, SNOEZELEN Portable Cabinet, SNOEZELEN Sensory Satchel, and the SNOEZELEN Pediatric SUV.