Sensory Input for Children with Special Needs


At the Watson Institute, one main objective is helping children with special needs achieve their educational and developmental goals. Educators at Watson are always on the lookout for special education resources and will often research activities, such as those that provide sensory input, to incorporate into daily classroom activities to help our students succeed.

Last summer, Michele Trettel, Program Director of the Education Center Sewickley and Education Center South, discovered the Krazy Maze! 

The Krazy Maze is a sensory path comprised of physical activities that can provide children with special needs with sensory input. When Ms. Trettel learned about the Krazy Maze she knew it could benefit the students at Watson!

Each activity – which is displayed through decals adhered to the walls and floors – in the Krazy Maze requires students to use various skills and abilities to complete each step. At the Watson Institute, stations such as the frog jump, bear crawl, and hopscotch are displayed on the hallway floor while other stations, such as wall push-ups, the focus circle, and hand over hand are adhered to the walls in a sequence.

How does the Krazy Maze help with sensory input sensitivity?

Many children with special needs are sensitive to sensory inputs so teachers and therapists at the Watson Institute utilize a variety of activities to help students build sensory regulation skills. Lauren Klug, an Occupational Therapist at Watson, says the Krazy Maze can provide students with a few different forms of sensory input: Proprioceptive (by providing pressure through the joints and muscles), Vestibular (by processing movement through the course), and deep pressure (tactile input through touch).

These types of sensory input can be calming for a student with special needs who may be over or under-stimulated. Ms. Klug shared that a teacher or therapist may allow a student to go through the Maze if they are having difficulty staying focused on an activity. Going through the Krazy Maze provides the student with sensory stimulation, helping them redirect their energy so they can come back to the assigned task with more focus.

Beyond the sensory benefits the Krazy Maze can provide, it also helps students work on their motor planning and visual processing skills. Motor planning is the ability to map out and complete a motor movement such as using a finger to trace the circles on the “focus” wall activity in the Maze, or maneuvering their body through the crab walk activity. Development of fine and gross motor skills are important elements to a child’s growth as these help them navigate through their environment. 

The Maze activities can also build visual processing skills as the students have to scan their surroundings to locate the next activity in the sequence. They utilize visual perception to determine what task they will need to complete and identify how to navigate through each activity.

What do the students have to say about the Krazy Maze? “It’s FUN!” Ms. Klug shares that the students enjoy getting to use the Krazy Maze and practice their skills navigating the course!

Check out the video to see a few of our students showing how they use the Krazy Maze and learn more about our special education school programs at the Education Centers in Sewickley and Bridgeville!