Invisible Differences

Gatwick Sensory Room 2

Invisible Differences

650 million people live with a disability, that’s nearly one in five people worldwide”. With only 20% of these disabilities being visible, it is imperative to recognize and understand the invisible.


Autism is diagnosed at approximately 1 in every 59 children” and we believe Healthcare Facilities can play a vital role in empowering self-modulation and decompression by incorporating Sensory Rooms. Sensory Rooms are special rooms designed to support or suppress stimulation, usually through special lighting, textures, sound, compression and color. These rooms allow a person to “take a break” from a stressful environment. To ensure the needs of individuals with both hyper-sensitive (over-stimulation) and hypo-sensitive (under stimulation) are met, these rooms require spaces with flexible design! For Example, Gatwick’s Airport Sensory Room is now, “offering a relaxing, private and fully interactive environment to calm people who may feel overwhelmed in busy and unfamiliar airport surroundings”. Gatwick’s Sensory Room has the option to transform it from a “calming and relaxing environment to a stimulating interactive space full of light and sound with just the flick of a switch”, ensuring to cater all forms and all ages of those with invisible disability. Once inside these sensory rooms, a short 10 minute visit is usually all that is needed to calm patients diagnosed with autism, dementia, PTSD, cognitive impairment, or other sensory processing issues

Father and son playing with interactive touch panels


We see many commonalities between the noisy chaos found in airports and the foreign world of hospital environments.  Just as travelers are overwhelmed with the stress of airports, hospital visitors can become similarly overwhelmed / over stimulated during hospital visits.  Sensory rooms offer children and adults a place to reduce stress and “reset”.  Evidence shows that less stress = more healing.


Imagine, as an adult or child, arriving home from a hospital visit calm an unafraid to return for additional treatment.  As we look forward to a day when Sensory Rooms have become a standard design element in healthcare environments, we challenge hospital owners, architects, engineers and designers to include intentional spaces for those with invisible differences.