A Multi-Sensory Environment, What it is and How it began

History of "Multi-Sensory Environment"


The concept of a "multi-sensory environment" came from Holland. In the early 1980’s, two university students, working as therapists at De Hartenberg Centre (an institutional environment at the time), began experimenting with some simple, tactile materials that they placed in the stark, emotionally glacial living spaces of the residents. From this experimenting, they began discovering a broad spectrum of human responsiveness, developing new ideas that invited awareness, joy, attention, amusement, and interaction by adults with disabilities.

Linda Messbauer is recognized by AAMSE with developing the multi-sensory environment concept in America. Read more here. 

“Snoezelen” is a combination of two Dutch words that, when translated, mean ‘to explore’ and ‘to relax.’ The name is sometimes given as a description for a space or “room” that is a dedicated collection of multi-sensory technology, arranged and programmed to create specific environments for experiential learning and/or recreation.