What is sensory integration?
Sensory integration is a neurological process of organization and processing of sensory information from the external environment in a way that enables us to understand it and correctly interact with the environment. The sensory system includes sensory stimuli from the external environment: visual; olfactory; auditory; vestibular; proprioreceptive and tactile
How disorders in sensory integration are reflected in everyday functioning?
The misinterpretation of external and internal information may result in limited abilities for: concentration and learning; performing coordinated movements; planning and sequencing new tasks; development of social relations and participation in family activities. In relation to school activities, disorders in sensory integration may affect the ability to concentrate; coordinate gross and fine motor skills; write; follow requests and complete the school tasks independently.
Evaluation of sensory integration and therapy planning
In order to evaluate the presence of disorder in sensory integration, assess the areas In which the problem exists and plan the adequate treatment, the therapists use the following methods:
- Observation of the child in the natural environment
- Interviews with parents and teachers
- Standardized tests
- Structured clinical observations
How does the treatment session look like?
After the evaluation is completed, the therapist designs a plan for intervention, aimed to strengthen the capacity for efficient use of sensory information. This includes carefully balanced use of vestibular, proprioreceptive and tactile sensory input, which will help the child to create a base for adequate sensory processing and building up functional skills.
The therapy for sensory integration has several basic characteristics:
- It is conducted in the environment which offers variety of opportunities for vestibular; proprioreceptive and tactile sensations
- Provide the right challenges for the child
- The child actively participate in selection of activities
- Ensured maximal self-organization by the child
- Ensured optimal concentration
- Enable achieving a success
- Ensure physical and emotional safety
- Develop a context of the game
- The room and the layout are organized for optimal engagement in the planned activities
- Strengthen the collaboration with the therapist
What is Snoezelen (sensory room)?
Snoezelen, or controlled multi-sensory stimulation, originated in the 1970s in the Netherlands. Its purpose was to demonstrate that the environment affected behaviour. The name, Snoezelen, comes from the Dutch words snuffelen (explore, seek out), and doezelen (doze, snooze).
Snoezelen is a non-directive therapy that affects the major senses of sight, hearing, touch and smell. By means of harmonious and controlled exposing, it uses light effects, colours, sounds, music and scents. Snoezelen is an especially equipped room in which the type, intensity and quantity of stimuli are controlled.
It can be thus arranged as to stimulate several senses (multi-sensory), or the focus can be placed on a particular sense (single-sensory focus). The goal of this activity is to achieve balance between relaxation and activity within a safe and adapted environment. The advantage of the Snoezelen therapy is that it requires no verbal communication and can be used for people who are unable to talk. It makes it possible for us to stimulate those who do not react to the environment, do not talk and with whom we cannot make contact.
Snoezelen can be described as a magical world. Already at the entrance you are captivated by intoxicating aromas, illuminated tubes with bubbles, starry sky and pleasant music. With a lot of sensory stimulation and possibilities, Snoezelen can give outstandingly positive results. It creates an atmosphere, stimulates children and adults to learn, reduces stress, and steals your attention. As a unique type of therapy it helps bring people together and overcome difficulties.
Snoezelen is used in autism, developmental disorders, dementia, brain damage, as well as for small children. Research and clinical studies have shown that anxiety and stereotypical behaviour in a Snoezelen environment are reduced by 50 percent and aggressive and self-harmful behaviours by 75 percent.
The benefits of Snoezelen can be felt in schools, kindergartens, day-care centres, psychiatric institutions and rehabilitation centres. It is used as both a pedagogical and therapeutic method. The room is especially designed to create a feeling of relaxation, peace, wellbeing, pleasure and joy. The congenial surroundings recall pleasant memories. This improves the potential for the development of ideas.