The ASMR Project is a ground-breaking new project to explore the benefits and effects of autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) on audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD).
ASMR signifies the subjective experience of "low-grade euphoria characterised by "a combination of positive feelings and a distinct static-like tingling sensation on the skin". It is most commonly triggered by specific auditory or visual stimuli, and less commonly by intentional attention control. A genre of videos intended to induce ASMR has emerged, over 13 million of which had been published on YouTube by 2018.
Despite people with PMLD often being called ‘sensory beings’, ASMR is a sensory experience that has been little used with them. Concrete Youth’s project will examine and explore how ASMR benefits and impacts people with PMLD, before exploring how ASMR could be integrated into a new multi-sensory theatre production.
In late 2020, we launched a mini-research project, funded by National Lottery Community Fund, to explore how our audience respond to ASMR as a sensory experience. We formed a small research group of 50 people with PMLD and sent them a short clip with a range of ASMR techniques. Members of the group sent us feedback, descriptions of their reactions to the clip and videos of them listening to the clip. The responses to the clip were positive and group members reported relaxation and high levels of engagement. We then took our findings from the research group and spoke to carers, parents, teachers and specialists to explore how ASMR could potentially be incorporated into a multi-sensory theatre show for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities.
In phase 2 of the project, launching in August 2021, Concrete Youth worked with 750 people with PMLD throughout the world, countless specialists, carers and consultants across the UK, US and Singapore, and a stunning creative team to explore the impacts and benefits of ASMR with people with PMLD, and developed it as a new sensory experience for this audience, before developing a brand-new, ASMR-integrated, multi-sensory theatre production.
Phase 1 was funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. Phase 2 is funded by Arts Council England and Hull City Council. Co-commissioned by Back To Ours and Stratford Circus. In partnership with Leeds Playhouse, Stratford Circus, Sheffield Theatres, Gig Buddies Mencap and Danny's Dream. Supported by Hull Truck Theatre.