Leisure has been found to have many social psychological benefits for individuals with a disability such as cultivating friendships, developing life-long skills, acquiring social skills, and enhancing self-image (Dattilo, 1994; Driver, Brown & Peterson, 1991). Several leisure scholars have also referred to relaxation as a means to reduce stress and fatigue from daily hassles, however very little research has been carried out in controlled settings. This paper defines the “Snoezelen Sensory Environment” (SSE) as a casual leisure activity (Stebbins, 1992) that creates a pleasurable experience in a relaxing and at times stimulating environment for individuals with severe and profound developmental disabilities. The origin of Snoezelen is traced from its early beginnings in Holland and recent development at Whittington Hall Hospital in Derbyshire, England. Observations at Whittington Hall Hospital have found that Snoezelen not only assisted in improving staff morale but also reduced self-stimulatory behavior. Recently, studies with more controlled research designs have found that Snoezelen has benefits for persons with developmental disabilities, including reduced pain levels, increased concentration levels during simple tasks, reduced maladaptive or stereotypical behavior, as well as providing an enjoyable, relaxing and stimulating experience in comparison to other relaxation techniques. However, there have been some conflicting results reported in the literature with several of the better designed studies reporting both positive and negative results.
Author Ian Patterson
Volume Vol 38, No 3 (2004)