On Thursday, Sept. 17, six Southeastern students volunteered for a toddler time session with a 4-year old boy in the Southeastern Louisiana University’s Snoezelen facility. This facility is offered to students, faculty, the community and children with special needs.
The Snoezelen is two multi-sensory rooms designed to allow children with special needs to explore and relax in the rooms at their pace. The active room encourages play and exploration using wall xylophones, slides and trampolines and the calming room uses warm fiber optics, bubble tubes that shifts colors and story time to help soothe and calm children. The Snoezelen also allows early childhood development and special education majors a chance to participate in a toddler time session.
The students watched as the 4-year old interacted with the students, the room and his family. The students experienced what it was like to work with a disabled child while Dr. Colleen Klein-Ezell explained how the slightest change caused anxiety in the boy.
The students witnessed this behavior when it was time to switch from the active room to the calming room. The 4-year old cried and dropped to the floor and his mother had to pick him up off the floor and carry him into the calming room. Once in the calming room the 4-year old quieted down and played with the games that adorned the walls. The matching game was his favorite game and after a few minutes of games it was time for a story.
The students and the 4-year old gathered around a small screen and watched a video of the children’s book “We are going on a Bear Hunt.” The story told how a group of people were going on a bear hunt and the obstacles they faced. After the story it was time for the final lesson and another room change.
The next lesson included a model of the story, complete with water beads, grass, mud and snow to help children associate the elements used in the story with how that element felt to the senses.
After toddler time ended, Cardeja Burris, an early childhood major said “My favorite thing about the Snoezelen experience was watching Cayden play the matching game.” “I enjoyed watching how he solved the puzzle.”