When you first wake up, what’s the first sound that you hear? Maybe it’s your alarm or perhaps it's the sound of baby birds chirping outside your window as they wait for their morning breakfast… For some people, as soon as they wake up they are ambushed not just with noise but with every kind of stimuli, whether that be sights, sounds, feelings, smells or tastes. Some of these external occurrences are pleasant (such as the smell of freshly brewed coffee) but a lot of them can become overwhelming; The crying baby next door, the overcrowded lunchroom or the pungent smell of tuna which someone has kindly opened in the confined space of an office. With so many stimuli nagging at us throughout the day, regulating reactions to them can become overwhelming, resulting in a need to escape. This is particularly difficult for individuals who have not been able to develop sensory skills which monitor responses to stimulus. This is where the SMILE Committee and Devika's Evenness VR Sensory Space come in!
Sensory Made Inclusive Leisure Environment (SMILE) is an initiative at the University of Wollongong (UOW). The team includes select researchers who have diverse areas of specialty and base project development on statistical findings collected. The latest project has been researching the benefits of the multi-sensory room at the Horsley Community Centre, the CareWays Community. The room is a safe space, “For people with cognitive, behavioral and physical impairments to engage in a range of sensory experiences,” and is filled with interactive objects which engage all five senses. Unlike the outside world, where there are thousands of stimuli which provoke a response, in this room you are in control. You can dim the lights to relax your eyes, slow down the music to calm your mind and lay in a hammock to rest your body. Maybe you need a stimulating space with louder music and vibrant lights. Either way, the space is yours to create. SMILE has conducted research to better understand the effectiveness of such a space and its ability to support individuals with disabilities.
SMILE Researches Evenness VR Sensory Space
Our involvement in this project began thanks to Robert Gorkin who recognized the potential for Devika and academics to collaborate. Extending from SMILE’s initial research, they are now analyzing the benefits of VR sensory rooms. We have created a VR sensory room, called the VR Sensory Space which is detailed here. With clarity around the effectiveness of the VR Sensory Space, Devika’s next step is to register with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) so that we can support more individuals with this initiative in the future. We’re excited that conversations around the adoption of the Evenness VR Sensory Space have already begun, with the subsequent benefit of increasing accessibility for individuals with sensory impairments.
If we can support you through the Evenness VR Sensory Space, please contact us here.