‘Stim Your Heart Out’ and ‘Syndrome Rebel’ (Performance Artworks, Autism Advocacy and Mental Health)

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Prue Stevenson


‘Stim Your Heart Out’ is a set of concepts and beliefs that advocate the benefits of the autistic culture of ‘stimming’, a repetitive physical action that provides enjoyment, comfort and contributes towards self-regulation of emotions. Facilitating the exploration of contemporary movement in the context of stimming and self-regulation, workshops generated a series of movement scores, culminating in a patented choreographic system of stimming performances documented at the www.stimyourheartout.com website and associated film.

‘Syndrome Rebel’ utilises this new choreographic system, where a performative movement score was created. A new stimming symbology/language was then developed and embroidered around the edge of a circular blanket, to record the movement score in this new symbology. The artist then interacted with these symbols within a live integrated movement score stimming performance. Continuing the conversations of Civil Rights and Feminism, the work uses textiles, language and performance to challenge the use of deficit language by the medical academic fraternity, and to protest against social behavioural norms, and the stigma that medical and educational practitioners and society associate
with autistic behaviours, due to their medicalised perspective of ‘cure.’ These works advocate for autistic people to be able to celebrate and practise their autistic culture, while sharing the self-awareness of our sensory perception and neuroperspective with the rest of society.

The project and performance address the prevalence of mental health conditions among autistic people, raise the discussion of art as a process of social cognition, and speak to the gap between descriptions of embodied cognition and the co-construction of lived experience. ‘Stim Your Heart Out’ project and ‘Syndrome Rebel’ performance make connections across my lived-experience and research practices within the arts and sciences.

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How to Cite
Stevenson, Prue. 2020. “‘Stim Your Heart Out’ and ‘Syndrome Rebel’ (Performance Artworks, Autism Advocacy and Mental Health)”. idea journal 17 (02):87-104. https://doi.org/10.37113/ij.v17i02.387.
text-based research essay
Author Biography

Prue Stevenson, RMIT & Deakin University

Prue is currently studying a Master of Fine Arts at RMIT, is an autistic consultant with AMAZE and an ensemble member of Rawcus inclusive theatre group.

Her art practice celebrates autistic culture through textiles, sculpture, installation, performance and sensory pleasure from a neuroperspective.

She explores autistic pleasures, necessities and culture and uses repetitive and tactile processes to allow for experiences of sensory play to create spaces and opportunities for downtime.

Prue advocates for the identity, empowerment and sensory awareness of the autistic community, intersecting and colliding against the context of preconditioned stigmas and resultant systematic oppression.

She aims to celebrate and progress autistic culture for autistics, while creating experiences that are more broadly accessible.