What exactly is a Sensory Path? And what are they used for???
The Sensory Path (TM) company was developed by Special Education teacher, Holly Barker (Clay) who had been researching movement and its effect on cognition since 2006. Based on years of research, Holly created, what she called, “The Original Sensory Path™” and posted a video of a little student hopping, balancing, and stretching his way through each part of the path. That Facebook video went viral and within 24 hours had been seen worldwide, thus coining the term “Sensory Path” and changing how schools address sensory seeking behaviors and starting conversations about the sensory needs of kids!
As of today, the video has been shared over a million times and has over 43 million views.
So, why would a child benefit from the use of a Sensory Path?
When children are in the classroom, their bodies are receiving sensory input from all over. The classroom lights, sunlight coming in the windows, or rain falling outside, noise from their friends, and even the air conditioning turning on and blowing cool air sends signals through the body. The neurotypical child can easily tune out and adjust to some of the sensory stimuli and go about their day. However, the sensory sensitive kiddo’s body might misinterpret the signal, and as the body is trying to adjust and compensate for the input, the sensory signals essentially create a neurological roadblock. In response, the body builds up tension within the muscles and joints like a huge traffic jam. As the kid is continuing to receive more input (while trying to maintain some type of focus power) the pile-up continues until the child starts seeking some sensory input to stimulate the joints and muscles to release the traffic jam. Unfortunately, the sensory seeking input they crave often results in inappropriate sensory seeking input. Because their body’s processing ability is all out of whack, they can’t focus, or think straight, they can’t process what the teacher is trying to teach, and often make “poor choices” or, behave out of character or worse, get labeled the “bad kid.”
Having witnessed this escalation of behavior in the classroom, and the reduction of cognitive processing and functioning as a result of the “traffic jams” within the body of her students, Special Education Teacher, Holly Clay began tracking the escalations, cognitive processing, attention, and the resulting behaviors. Taking the baseline data, she introduced movements one at a time and recorded the results it had on each child. The resulting data collected took over 8 years to perfect and is now referred to as The Sensory Path™ “Formula.” The “Formula” uses specific movements, visual cues, joint pressures, muscle stretches in a particular order to deconstruct the tension by stimulating the proper proprioceptive, vestibular, somatosensory, and visual systems. Once the gridlock of sensory signals is reduced, the child can process the instructional information more effectively, which increases cognition, confidence, and independence. The Sensory Path™ company began to offer a place for school districts to find a quality, well designed, research-based Sensory Path product for their schools. Each Sensory Path uses Holly’s valuable research to develop specific formulas and movement series designed to unlock the sensory signals that are being blocked due to overstimulation from environmental stimuli. The Sensory Path™ company designs each movement series using this research to ensure that proper input is provided without overstimulating the child or increasing problematic tension.
The Sensory Path™ company is the only company that uses the “formula.” We test each path using peer groups in actual school settings. We make observations and get feedback from teachers and administrators on each path to ensure a quality product.
“We are more than a set of stickers that kids jump around on to get their wiggles out.”— Creator, Holly Barker
There is an actual method to our layouts, as well as planning and designing a visually appealing Sensory Path for the child. We create paths that transform spaces into a thematic learning and sensory spaces kids enjoy.
Although our original focus was on the Autism population, we discovered that the Sensory Path™ is now considered a universal educational tool that is all-inclusive for all populations of students.
Our paths can now be found in high Trauma Schools, Pediatric Hospitals and Clinics, Recreational Facilities, Museums, and thousands of public schools across America, and as far as Australia, Japan, Dubai, and Ireland.
With the changes in school settings in the year 2020, children will need space to reset and regroup. The Sensory Path™ provides such a space. Providing a space for kids to properly get sensory input helps kids unblock the neurological gridlock occurring inside their bodies, so their brains can process information and reduce sensory seeking behaviors.