The Northern Will County Special Recreation Association now has a certified Snoezelen sensory room for individuals enrolled in its programs.
Snoezelen rooms are designed to reduce anxiety and engage the senses through the use of lights, sounds and touch.
“This room has taken about two years to come together,” NWCSRA executive director Kailee Kordas said in a news release. “We did a lot of fundraising and financial planning to figure out how we were going to be able to afford it all.”
Sensory rooms have become popular among special recreation associations in Illinois and even some hospitals and schools have them. They provide benefits for everyone, even the staff.
“Just stepping in here to make sure everything is working brings a calming sense,” Kordas said.
People with autism will greatly benefit from the surplus of sensory input in the room. Individuals who may not be verbal might look at the bubble tube and, when it changes colors, they might say “white” or “pink.”
A projected image on the floor changes as people interact with it, helping participants learn cause and affect People with physical disabilities will get their arms and legs moving.
If a person touches something, it spreads across the room
“Individuals work on gross motor movements with the balance beam or the floor projector,” youth program coordinator Megan Siebert said. “Fine motor movements are practiced with the touch screen or grabbing the wall wheels and spinning them.”
The room also promotes choice.
“A lot of times people with special needs are given schedules,” Kordas said. “They have to go to school, they have to go to therapy, their parents maybe make decisions for them. But when they’re in here, the whole point is they can choose what types of equipment they want to interact with.”
Many of the elements in the room are tied together to a central panel. A sunshine theme turns all the lighting yellow, while an underwater theme makes everything blue.
That being said, every piece of equipment turns on and off individually. If someone is sensitive to sound, the speakers can be muted or completely turned off. Everything in the room doesn’t have to be used at the same time.
“We want to make sure everyone feels safe. We don’t want anyone to go into sensory overload,” Kordas said.
The Northern Will County Special Recreation Association is closed through April 5.
For information, visit nwcsra.org.