ABSTRACT

The first substantial use of the multisensory environment (MSE), as a recreational and, to a much lesser extent, therapeutic and educational tool, was in The Netherlands. MSEs 'were originally developed within a philosophical framework which emphasized that it was acceptable to develop an environment which promoted service users' pleasure for its own sake', therefore research was thought to be an imposition. The MSE literature can be divided into four themes; the first theme closely follows the original 'Snoezelen philosophy'. The MSE in the second theme has been developed principally for therapy, specifically designed for the treatment of some disorder or condition. The MSE in the third theme has been principally created for education, to promote learning and development. The MSE in the fourth theme is multifunctional. Critics of the MSE voiced their concern that an environment specifically designed for the enjoyment and relaxation of individuals with disabilities was segregationalist in nature.