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'Stim Your Heart Out' raises awareness of autism

Artist Prue Stevenson has created an art project that examines 'stimming' and shares the practice with a wider audience. Stimming is a repetitive physical action that people with autism may do to provide enjoyment and comfort, and to help regulate emotions and behaviour.

Prue brought together a group of autistic women for workshops, facilitated with the assistance of choreographer Rebecca Jensen, which allowed them to explore contemporary movement in the context of stimming. The workshops culminated in the creation of choreographic systems that allowed each person to express their individual stims. The creative process was documented in a film trailer.

Prue stated that the project advocates an understanding of the benefits of the autistic culture of stimming and establish it in mainstream society. Her aim is for people with autism to feel free to be themselves, and feel safe stimming in public if they need to. The project also seeks to establish the language of “stim” and “stimming” as autistic culture to empower the autism community. By understanding the value of stimming and self-regulation, we can create an inclusive understanding between everyone in society.

Prue has had a long association with annecto, as a Project Officer for annecto Yarraville’s Learning Hub arts program, a member of the Quality Systems Team, an annecto client and an annecto volunteer. She was also awarded the annecto Ron Cahill award in 2012.

Manager of annecto’s Western Melbourne Region, Joan Cooney, said about the project:

“Prue’s work and approach has helped us, as practitioners, to better understand the individuals we support, particularly in regard to their stimming behaviours. 'Stim Your Heart Out' is Prue’s way of spreading the message and understanding in the biggest way possible. She believes that stimming needs to be more widely understood and accepted in society. We feel that this project is an extraordinary way to raise knowledge and awareness of stimming and autism within the broader community. It will also create pride, greater self-awareness and acceptance for individuals within the spectrum.”

The project’s website – www.stimyourheartout.com – provides more information and showcases the film trailer.