Considering a Multi-Sensory Environment?

Author: 
Linda Messbauer

A MSE is not just fancy equipment put in a room; it can impact the very spirit and potential for everyone who passes through it. It changes behavior, motivates learning, and soothes the stresses of everyday life. It is also fun and exciting. Done properly an MSE will elevate and highlight any therapeutic, educational or recreational program.

Some considerations are:
Form follows Function. I recommend that you first define the purpose and function of your MSE. Most often these rooms are designed for Relaxation/Anti-Stress purposes. Relaxation and how it relates to thebody’s “state of neuro-physiological arousal” is different for each human being. For some individuals, the process of calming down requires the direct opposite of what you might think! So, a continuum of flexibility and functionality needs to be considered at the start of exploring constructing or assembling a
Multi-Sensory Environment. To create a meaningful environment that offers the “Right Stuff” requires understanding what equipment will and will not be necessary. The Design phase must address the special needs of the individuals you will be serving.

Room and space allocation must fully account for your purpose, function and costs. Rooms can cost anywhere from several thousand dollars to one hundred thousand dollars or more, depending on the size, need for construction or renovation and how much equipment it will contain. The following is a list of considerations and needs to be defined in terms of function, materials and costs:

  • Ceiling Treatment
  • Transitional Lighting
  • Heating & Air Conditioning
  • Windows & Monitoring
  • Space Configuration
  • Wall Treatments & Color
  • Remote Controls
  • Acoustics
  • Electricity Requirements
  • Floor Treatments

Once your Multi-Sensory Environment is completed, the Training phase is required involving two types of training:

1. Training of maintenance/engineering and auxiliary staff in room operations and equipment preventive maintenance and repair.

2. Training of program staff in the “How To” procedures, application of Sensory to your specific population and best practices in therapy, education, and recreation.

Contact: linda@lmessbauer.com