Understanding Why, How, When to Use a Sensory Path: Lily Pads
The Sensory Path was developed by Holly Clay, a special education teacher looking to find a creative way to get her students moving in specific ways to help with their academic performance. She noticed that students were often showing sensory seeking behaviors that prevented them from being fully present in the classroom. After consulting with occupational therapists and physical therapists, Holly would guide students through different movements that helped clear some of the neurological “roadblocks” that were negatively impacting the students’ ability to focus and attend to a task. The idea was working and her students were well on their way to being better learners.
After several years of studying how her students responded to different movements, she set out to create a dedicated space in their school where all students could work through these series of movements that helped decrease sensory seeking behaviors and increase cognitive ability. The first Sensory Path was developed in her school and became an overnight, instant success.
This series of blog posts is breaking down the Why, How, and When of Sensory Path use. To get the most out of our Sensory Path products, it’s important that you understand what they are and how they should be used. The Sensory Path company is the only company offering research based Sensory Paths. Our products are praised by physical therapists, occupational therapists, physicians, teachers, and school administration. The Sensory Path’s products are endorsed by the International Board of Credentials and Continuing Education Standards as a Certified Autism Resource.
Today let’s learn how the Sensory Path Lily Pads Element can help your students.
There are several ways that the Sensory Path Lily Pads can be used in a Sensory Path. Depending on the age group you’re servicing, one use may be more beneficial than another. Further, depending on the other grouping of Sensory Path Elements in your path, you may need to make modifications to ensure that you’re addressing all of your students’ sensory needs.
As offered in the Original Sensory Path Package, the Lily Pads Sensory Path Element is designed as a burpee-like hopping activity. Students are encouraged to squat low like a frog and hop from one lily pad to the other. This hopping motion is a great opportunity to offer proprioceptive input while challenging a student’s coordination and flexibility. The squatting motion gives the student a deep stretch in their hips that can help relieve pressure and stress that’s built up from sitting at a desk for extended periods of time. As students jump from one lily pad to the other, their visual perceptual and visual tracking skills are challenged as they search for the nearest lily pad and attempt to accurately assess the distance and sort the information in their brain. While this activity appears to be simple at first glance, the skills tested with this one movement requires a lot of brain processing and development at once. It may take a student several visits to master this motion and that’s perfectly okay. Each exposure to this activity will build the strength and coordination to successfully complete the task.
Why would a student need this specific movement? Young students are growing and developing many skills in the classroom. The ability to learn how to read and write depends on the development of many fundamental neurological milestones. There are a variety of reasons that some skills may not yet be fully developed. When any number of developmental delays causes proprioceptive dysfunction, students are more likely to exhibit sensory seeking behaviors. Weak neural pathways that regulate proprioception, or spatial awareness, can prevent students from learning effectively as their brain is misfiring certain signals. This causes roadblocks within their bodies. Left unresolved students are more likely to fall behind their peers academically, physically, and emotionally.
As always, it’s important to look for the signals that a student may need proprioceptive input via a visit to a Sensory Path. Signs that a student may be experiencing dysregulation of their proprioceptive system include:
- Clumsiness- lack of spatial awareness, inability to walk without hitting things
- Flailing arms or legs
- Rough play
- Biting or Chewing
- Hard grip on writing utensils
You will be amazed at how just a few weeks of consistent Sensory Path use will improve the sensory seeking behaviors in your students. Your students will receive the proper sensory integration that their little bodies crave and be well on their way to being better learners.
If you’ve still got questions for us, let us know what kind of sensory seeking behaviors you’re seeing in your classroom. We can provide advice and recommendations on what Sensory Path Elements would be a good addition to your school. As a Certified Autism Resource, you can trust the Sensory Path Team! We are here for you.
Get in touch via email at email@example.com or via phone at 662-607-0448. We can’t wait to work with you!