A new sensory hallway at Chapel Hill Academy is giving students the chance to burn off energy and learn to self-regulate so they can be ready for academic learning in the classroom. The hallway features a series of colorful, sequenced decals that guide students as they lizard walk, bunny hop, or skip through a game of hopscotch.
“The sensory path provides an opportunity for the student’s body and brain to refocus, while reducing sensory seeking behaviors and not over-stimulating the child. As children change between classes of their school day, the sensory path can be a built-in opportunity for movement and maintaining attention for any child,” said Stephanie DeVoe, an Occupational Therapist at Chapel Hill Academy.
Researchers have found that physically active students pay more attention, have faster cognitive processing speeds, and do better on standardized tests than children who are less active. Sensory exercises are particularly helpful for kids who have processing issues, stress, anxiety, and ADHD.
“When a student fidgets in class, we view that as communication. They are letting us know that they need to get up and move in order to learn,” said Stephanie. “The sensory hall helps students self regulate; it is a preventative measure to help students with energy and behavior.”
Leaders at Chapel Hill Academy thank Kirsten Hansen, and everyone at Hansen & Ryan Inc., a Totowa-based insurance company, for their generous contribution during Autism Week that made the sensory hall possible.