Sensory room with colourful lights

What does the word ‘Snoezelen’ mean?

Named by two Dutch therapists in the 1970s, Snoezelen therapy is also known as Controlled Multisensory Environments, or MSE. The word Snoezelen itself originates from two Dutch terms: Snuffelen (to snuffle) and Doezelen (to doze). Snoezelen therapy is popular across Europe, and is particularly common in Germany, providing multisensory experiences for children and adults with autism, alongside other conditions. Snoezelen, or MSE, does not rely on verbal communication, making it the ideal choice to promote relaxation and offer stimulation to individuals beyond typical play centres or therapies.

History and uses

Since its creation in the Netherlands in the 1970s, Snoezelen has gone on to become a worldwide phenomenon. Coined by Jan Hulsegge and Ad Verheul, who came up with the idea for Snoezelen as part of their work at the De Hartenberg Institute, the idea of this kind of non-directive therapy was revolutionary at the time. These days, we understand the many benefits of sensory and multisensory environments for children and adults across the autism spectrum, as well as for other learning disabilities and additional needs.

While initially devised for use with people with autism, the concept of Snoezelen – under many different names – has become a widespread therapy across the world, and is used in mental healthcare facilities, schools, hospitals and more. For the support of learning, and for additional care, Snoezelen has proven to be a powerful tool that provides joy and peace to many who access MSE services. Worcester Snoezelen aims to continue this long history by providing multi-sensory leisure therapy services to people across our community.

Who benefits from Snoezelen?

Thousands of people benefit from Snoezelen therapy across the globe. From individuals with learning and physical disabilities to those with additional needs, multisensory environments have been proven to have a positive effect of experiential learning across a wide range of different requirements and capabilities. We find that the families and siblings of our visitors also benefit from our multisensory environment, which makes Snoezelen something that truly is for everyone!Read more about who Snoezelen is for here.