The development of sensory rooms began in the Netherlands in the 70’s. The initial idea was to deliver stimulation to the various senses, both to relax and calm, while engaging or prompting the user to take notice of his or her surroundings.

Sensory rooms were typically a non-directive therapy (i.e. the user was not told or shown what to do but encouraged to have a natural response to the environment). Sensory rooms also allowed communication with non-verbal users, giving the caretaker new knowledge of the user’s awareness.

The philosophy behind sensory rooms spread to the UK and to all different areas concerned with intellectual or learning difficulties and was used for both adults and children.

The original concept began to evolve when professionals working with children in special needs schools determined that these sensory rooms could be used in a more interactive way.

These professionals wanted children, regardless of their limits, to be able to control the effects in the sensory room, with switches. This new concept allowed children or adults to control their own environment.

Today both the passive and interactive sensory rooms remain very popular and can be found in a wide variety of environments including nurseries, neo-natal units, hospitals, child development centres, hospices, nursing homes and of course mainstream and special needs schools.
  The Future

Virtual environments using multi-projection, green-screen technology, large plasma screens, moving platforms, and 3D technology likely will be developed in the near future to create a true whole body experience.

This is already the case with the M.I.L.E® Multisensory Interactive Learning Environment, exclusive to Experia (see page 17). With its full body experience together with the ability to share information, room setups and programs with other establishments, the M.I.L.E® is leading the way for the future of the sensory room.
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