Southeastern dedicates “Lekotek” and “Snoezelen®” rooms for special needs children; first university to host both facilities
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
by: Rene Abadie
HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University officials on Monday (Oct. 27) dedicated three play session and sensory rooms in the College of Education, making the university the first in the nation to host both highly specialized facilities.
"Southeastern is proud to offer our community both a Lekotek and a Snoezelen® facility on its campus," said Cynthia Elliott, head of the Department of Teaching and Learning," which oversees the rooms.
"Lekotek" is Swedish for "play library," while "Snoezelen®" is adapted from Dutch words meaning "to explore" and to "relax." Both programs will use student teacher candidates to help them gain expertise and hands-on experience in working with children with special needs.
The Lekotek facility is designed to make the world of play accessible to all children, primarily those with disabilities or special needs; the two Snoezelen® rooms are specially designed spaces to encourage relaxation and active exploration by children. Both facilities will be introduced to educators, parents and the general public at the event.
Funding for the facilities was provided through two Louisiana Board of Regents Enhancement Program grants awarded to Associate Professors Colleen Klein-Ezell and Camille Yates, who serve as co-principal investigators for both grants. The Lekotek room was funded through a $112,788 grant, while the Snoezelen® facilities received a $119,976 grant.
"Young children learn and develop through play and exploration," said Elliott. "Play is innate with all children, but those with disabilities may experience certain roadblocks. We recognize that a student's abilities, disabilities, hardships and culture can affect their perception of the world and the world around them."
She said Lekotek uses adapted toys, technology and therapy sessions for families to assist these children in overcoming any barriers they may have to participate in the play experience. Adaptive toys will be provided on loan to participating families.
"Snoezelen® is what is termed a multi-sensory environment (MSE), which provides a calming and interactive environment, as well as an active, exploring experience for children," explained Klein-Ezell. "The facility is available to all families, especially those with children who have sensory processing disorders, traumatic brain injuries, autism or other special needs.
"The Snoezelen® rooms are the first in the country to be based on a university campus," she added. "Snoezelen® will also be utilized as a training facility for educators and other professionals who work with children with sensory issues. Sensory materials will also be provided on loan to participants."
The Snoezelen® rooms include special environments, materials and equipment that can be used to stimulate, relax, calm or energize children through a multi-sensory experience or a single sensory focus as needed for a specific child.
"We can adapt the lighting, the general atmosphere, sounds, aromas and textures to meet the specific needs of an individual child," Klein-Ezell said.
Following the official dedication, tours of both facilities were provided.