One word 'STEREOTYPING'
Stereotypes can contribute to the belief that multi-sensory rooms are the ideal solution for all public spaces, which is not necessarily the case. Stereotypes are oversimplified and generalized beliefs about a group of people, often based on limited or incorrect information. When it comes to providing inclusive and accessible public spaces for individuals with special needs, relying solely on the stereotype that multi-sensory rooms are universally beneficial can lead to several issues:
EVERYONE WONT FIND THEM CALMING
It is essential to recognise that not all individuals with special needs find multi sensory rooms exciting and calming. Each person is unique, and their responses to their sensory environment (sensory stimuli) can vary significantly based on their specific sensory profile, preferences, and individual challenges even on that very day and time of day they are accessing the public space.
While some individuals may benefit greatly from multi sensory equipment packages in a sensory room and find them soothing, others may not experience the same positive effects or could even feel overwhelmed or distressed in such an environment.
IT'S CRUCIAL TO AVOID GENERALISATIONS
It is crucial to avoid generalizations and assumptions about how all individuals with special needs will react to specific sensory experiences. Instead, it is important to take an individualized and person-centered approach when providing sensory environments or interventions.
UNFAMILIARITY CAN ACTUALLY TRIGGER ANXIETY
Occasional access to a sensory room might be challenging for individuals with additional needs, such as those on the autism spectrum, as the unfamiliarity could trigger anxiety rather than an immediate sense of calm.
However, spending time in the calmer environment can eventually lead to feeling more centered and better equipped to cope with sensory challenges when re-engaging with the public space. Over time, continued use can build familiarity, making the sensory room an essential calming tool to successfully access that public space facility for the users and companions.
INCLUSION MEANS RESPECTING DIVERSE NEEDS
Creating truly inclusive spaces requires considering and respecting the diverse needs and preferences of all individuals.
This may involve offering alternative options or environments for those who do not find multisensory rooms beneficial and providing a range of sensory experiences to cater to a broader spectrum of individuals with varying sensory profiles.
Welcoming Environment: A minimalistic, blank canvas sensory room can be less intimidating and more welcoming to individuals with sensory issues. It may be less visually overwhelming and create a sense of openness, making it easier for people to enter the space and feel at ease.
Individualized Experience: Sensory processing disorders can vary significantly from person to person. What might be soothing for one individual could be overwhelming for another. By starting with a blank canvas, you allow the flexibility to tailor the room's sensory input to the specific needs and preferences of each individual. This individualization is crucial for true inclusivity.
Sensory Control: A blank canvas sensory room enables individuals to have more control over their sensory environment. People with sensory processing disorders often struggle with self-regulation, and being able to adjust the room's sensory stimuli allows them to create a calming or stimulating environment as needed. This empowerment can lead to increased comfort and participation.
Reduced Risk of Sensory Overload: By keeping the room as a blank canvas, you minimize the risk of overwhelming individuals with excessive or potentially aversive sensory stimuli. A less cluttered environment can help prevent sensory overload and create a more calming space for everyone.
Accessibility for Different Needs: A blank canvas sensory room can be easily adapted to accommodate various sensory profiles and disabilities. Whether someone is hypersensitive or hyposensitive (under sensitive) to certain sensory inputs, a flexible environment ensures that the room remains accessible to a broader range of individuals.
Promoting Creativity and Exploration: A blank canvas allows for creativity and exploration. Individuals can bring their own items or objects that provide comfort or sensory stimulation, making the room a more personalized and engaging space.
Remember that true inclusivity involves creating an environment where individuals with diverse needs feel comfortable, supported, and empowered. Starting with a blank canvas allows for customization, flexibility, and individualization, which are fundamental aspects of ensuring an inclusive sensory room that serves the unique needs of each participant.