The Avonvale ESC primary campus has a Multi-Sensory Environments (MSE) equipped with a bubble tube, special lighting with a projector to cast slow-moving images or colours around the walls, a mirror ball with spotlight and a fiber-optic curtain. There is also other lamps, music and sound equipment and aromatherapy materials. A variety of tactile items such as cushions and vibrating pillows, as well as a massage chair. The floor is padded with removable matting and the walls and window painted black. Panels with a variety of textures such as rough surfaces, stiff bristles, smooth or contoured mirrors, beads, or soft and squishy items are often also included. Activity walls have been custom built to provide a range other equipment to provide visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic and olfactory stimulation.
This room is available for both primary and visiting secondary students.
The Multi-Sensory Environments is used for many activities as well as relaxation, much of the equipment can be designed or modified to provide switch interactivity. Special switches to suit the physical abilities of users are used to start or modify the behaviour of the equipment, thus changing the sensory experience. This allows the room to be used in active programs, where switch skills, cause-effect understanding, concentration and memory abilities can be developed in a fun, focused environment.
The idea of an MSE is to provide stimulation, and yet be calming. It aims to provide a "failure-free" experience, allowing pleasurable stimulation without the need for verbal abilities or requiring specific outcomes. The focus is to help the student to gain maximum pleasure from the sensory activity they are involved in.
The approach to using an Multi-Sensory Environment is generally non-directive, without the need for intellectual or verbally mediated activity in terms of following instructions or rules, and regular exposure has proven to be more effective. Teachers and Education Assistants allow the student time and opportunity to experience at their own pace what the room has to offer. Students may not use or activate immediately all equipment that the room has available, but gradually introduce more of the sensory stimulation,
The time in the Multi-Sensory Environment s is students-focused, with a program designed by the teacher and implemented by the Education Assistant. Their attention, interest and expressions of pleasure or displeasure are the basis for participation in the Multi-Sensory Environment. Obviously the responses to the experience of the room are highly individual and staff are sensitive to the student, suspending their expectations and judgments, closely monitoring any responses they notice to provide feedback for teachers and visiting therapists.