Providing environmental control in your sensory room, office, playroom or bedroom can make an ordinary space come alive. Did you ever stop to realize the number of times you flip on a switch, click on an email, turn on a light or ignite an engine? Each time you touch a button or a switch you are creating an effect, you are being the instigator. Environmental control switches and devices put an individual in control of his or her environment. And of those with limited abilities or neurological challenges such as Alzheimer’s, ADHD, Autism, Executive Functioning Disorder or Sensory integration disorder, that is quite powerful not to mention therapeutic. Being in control of the external environment can release endorphins and stimulate dopamine receptors much like you might get from exercising. But there are many benefits to setting up an environment with control switches. Let's take a look at some of those key benefits.
- Reduces Anxiety: Controlling ones environment can reduce anxiety. We see with those suffering with OCD, that this need to control one’s environment can be obsessive and yet putting them in control when they are not obsessing may actually reduce the need at other times. With anxiety reduced we see a somewhat different brain emerge that can then regulate emotions more effectively.
- Promotes Problem Solving: How do I get that light to turn on? That fan to blow? That sound to go off? A multi sensory space can provide the best of environmental control units to encourage problem solving at a basic level. This than has the potential to overflow into other areas of development. From learning to manipulate the iPad to control the flow of color to learning how to change the scene on the floor or wall, problem solving is a key component to environmental control.
- Encourages Creative Thinking: What do I want to happen? Can I make it happen? With the frontal brain no longer monitored, and anxiety and frustration removed, the creative process can begin. I can make the room red, orange, purple or green. I can create sound that is appealing, calming or alerting. I become an artist, so to say.
- Enhances Social Intelligence: From emotional well being, an environment with control switches can provide the space for calm social interaction as well. Within each environment you can place “talkers” and “listeners.” A sensory space is no longer threatening and there is no competition. Everyone is on equal ground which means we can learn and engage together. Often those who are normally withdrawn will come to find their voice and those who are highly vocal will come to find their own peace and quiet using controls that talk and listen!
Your interactive room or space cannot only provide the above benefits but it can also be highly therapeutic and have long-term effects. Choosing the right environmental controls can be the difference between a passive and interactive sensory room experience.