Our Origins: The Snoezelen Room

Snoezelen comes from the Dutch word for “explore/sniff around” and doze.

Hello everyone, story time! I grew up in Belleville, Ontario with my sister and parents. During that time (and still today), many of my family members were involved at multiple levels with a not-for-profit called Pathways to Independence. Pathway’s mandate is to support people with developmental disabilities,  acquired brain injuries or dual diagnosis through housing, recreational programs, and therapy.

One of my earliest memories of Pathways was the implementation of their Snoezelen Room, a “non-pharmaceutical, multisensory philosophy of care in which sensory stimulation is used as a method of relaxation and redirection”. It was absolutely amazing. There were fibre optic lights, soft beanbag seating, gentle music/sounds. As a child I remember wishing I could make my room so calming and safe.

The Snoezelen room was specifically designed for people with severe sensory impairment, autism or multiple disabilities, but my little anxious self found it inspiring. I remember trying to replicate some of the most memorable features in my own bedroom, and finding relief from what I felt to be life’s insurmountable pressures.

Flash forward a couple decades, I have my own children, and continue to work on my anxiety, etc. I sort of stumble upon the sensory play world for kids, and am immediately reminded of the Snoezelen room, and the impact sensory experiences had on me as a child. It’s really what motivated me to start wonder + whimsical. At first, it was a way of creating an outlet for my sons (during a sometimes stressful lockdown), but as I continue I feel like I’m reaching out to that little girl back in Belleville. What does she need? What might help her? I hope that I can succeed.

Does this resonate with you? If so, I’d love to hear your stories/any input you have! I’m always brainstorming new ideas for kits etc. so would love to read what anyone has to say. DM on Instagram or email calie@wonderandwhimsical.com

If you’d like to read more about Pathways to Independence, their website is https://www.pathwaysind.com/

Snoezelen Room, source: https://www.pathwaysind.com/snoezelen-room/