Member Focus: Leeds Museums and Galleries Shortlisted for this Year’s National Disabilities and Autism Awards

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Leeds Museums and Galleries have been shortlisted for this year’s National Disabilities and Autism awards for a project working with a group of students with complex needs (also sometimes called profound and multiple learning disabilities) exploring the world of ASMR.

By Eve Phethean

Leeds Museums and Galleries have been shortlisted for this year’s National Disabilities and Autism awards for a project working with a group of students with complex needs (also sometimes called profound and multiple learning disabilities) exploring the world of ASMR.

The project explored the relatively new phenomenon ASMR through working with a group of students from Fairfield School. We wanted to give a voice to a group that don’t have this opportunity very often and also to see what effect ASMR could have on their wellbeing. ASMR (Auto Sensory Meridian Response) can be described as a feeling of wellbeing combined with a tingling sensation down the back of the neck and can be experienced by some people in response to specific stimulus, often a particular sound. The first session involved us visiting the students in their school and showing them a range of ASMR videos to see their instant responses. We were able to create a calm and relaxing space. We then showed various ASMR videos (whispering, soap cutting, brushing microphones – the weirder the better!) and gave each student an opportunity to communicate their response, be it through picking an emoji, pointing, or moving their body or eyes. The students response varied from clip to clip, from individual to individual – some reacting positively and some not so positively. This gave us great feedback on sounds we could use in our completed ASMR video.

The next session took us to Lotherton Hall, a beautiful country house complete with Wildlife World. We started again with videos and then explored what kind of sounds we might like to create ourselves. Popping bubblewrap was a huge hit for one student, but we also found that objects that they didn’t generally use day to day were more popular. Using museum objects and microphones, students were able to listen intensely through the headphones and create their own ASMR. We recorded this and played it back to the students on our last session and the response was magical. Quiet students gained confidence to create and engage with their own ASMR and boisterous students became calm and engaged.

The teacher involved in the project said, “it encouraged positive relationships with adults and peers” and that, “our students have gained so much from it, to see them engage with the project was certainly a WOW! moment”. The project was so successful that the sessions were recreated in school to provide other students with the chance to engage and feel the benefits of ASMR. The project has also inspired the learning team to take on even more ASMR projects in different settings across our museums and galleries, so watch this space!

The awards are primarily focused on those working in social care settings so it’s really exciting that our work from outside the social care sector has been recognised as important. The awards take place on 30th June in Birmingham’s ICC – fingers crossed!

Lotherton & Fairfield School – ASMR – YouTube

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End of Year Message

And suddenly it’s December! As we wind down towards the end of the year, it feels the right time to reflect on what has been achieved this year as a partnership! We have continued to strengthen work in our priority areas: Youth Voice, Skills and Progression, Advocacy and Comms, and Health and Wellbeing.

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