Web Site FAQ
What is a multi-sensory environment? A multi-sensory environment is a dedicated room/space designed to block out noise control space, temperature and lighting. It is an artificially created venue that utilizes multi-sensory equipment to stimulate the senses and promote pleasure and/or feelings of well-being. Within the multi-sensory environment, Controlled Sensory Input (CSI) is designed to promote choice, interaction, and relationships through planed stimulation of the senses. MSE initiates changes in neuro-physiological arousal levels and affects drive and motivation through changes in neurochemistry. MSE can also relieve stress, anxiety and pain. It aims to maximize a person’ potential to focus and then to act on this change through an adaptive response to the environment. An adaptive response is defined as the individual initiating and reacting in a meaningful, productive way to situations, things and people in their environment. An adaptive response is a dynamic and ever changing process. Learning and/or treatment experiences can be more effective with a multi-sensory environment. Simply put: Multi-Sensory Environments help change behavior and enhance feelings of well-being.
How are multi-sensory environments utilized? The MSE consisting of various pieces of sensory equipment is used first to induce a state of relaxation or stress reduction. This is accomplished by immersing an individual in Controlled Sensory Input (CSI). The level of the individual’s arousal, agitation, and anxiety is matched to the degree, intensity, and frequency of sensory input. It is carefully orchestrated to work with the person’s sensory diet*, history and choices. The stimulation is then increased or decreased to meet the individual’s need. The MSE stimulates the primary senses of auditory, visual, olfactory, tactile and the vestibular system. It taps into pleasant memory retrieval and /or introduces a new pleasurable experience. In this initial phase, the MSE is passive, but it has the potential and should become highly interactive environment. This safe and secure environment also sets the stage for relationship-building as the consistency, continuity, constancy and frequency allow for a trusting relationship to develop.
· A sensory diet is the multi-sensory experience that one prefers to seek on a daily basis to satisfy ones need for sensory produced self-regulation. Patricia Wilberger, Med, OTR.A sensory diet is our attempt to modify stressors and control arousal levels and it is unique to each of us.
Can an MSE cause seizures? Photosensitive epilepsy is exposure to flashing lights at certain intensities or to certain visual patterns and this can trigger seizures. For example a strobe light ahs this frequency. The MSE does not include this kind of lighting. In addition, each vendor usually has information on each specific piece of equipment and on any safety precautions. So, if a person has a diagnosis of photosensitive epilepsy they should not use the MSE If in doubt, you should always consult with your Physician.
Who can benefit from Multi-sensory environments? Individuals in the following categories may benefit from MSE therapy: Autism Spectrum, Post Traumatic Stress Disorders Anxiety , Anxiety associated with substance abuse, Dementia, Developmental Disabilities, ADD and ADHA. The criteria is as follows: anyone with exceptionally high states of arousal, stress, agitation, anxiety, pain and /or sensory processing disorders. They may have a hypersensitivity (too much) or hyposensitivity (too little) to the normal sensory experience in their lives. They are often uncomfortable with their bodies and demonstrate challenging behaviors or express dissatisfaction with their lives. They are not happy. They are often seen as individuals who cannot relax. And traditional methods of relaxation do not work for them or they need additional supports to be able to cope.
How can I find a facility offering a Multi-Sensory Environment?: You just found one! The Polk County DAC in East Grand Forks is developing a full-blown multi-sensory environment! There are also plans in the works to develop the same type of MSE at our Crookston site as well. There is a web site: American Association of Multi-sensory of Multi-sensory Environment (AAMSE.org) that might assist. We feel this MSE will enhance the lives of all the people we serve.
What is the difference between the DAC and the ODC?: Both agencies provide services to persons with developmental disabilities. Both agencies provide community employment. Both agencies program enclave experiences in the community. The Polk County DAC provides medication administration, social skills training, community integration, single site job placement and individualized services. The DAC also provides services at a 1:4 ratio most of the time or less (1:3 or 1:2).