Claudia Van-Nimwegen

IO Stories

IO Stories is a web-based resource designed for academics, educational professionals, inclusive artists and creatives interested in the intersections between creative storytelling and Autism.

The idea

IO Stories was born out of a passion for inclusive education and creative artistic expression by Autistic Artist and Creative Educator Claudia Van-Nimwegen as partial fulfilment of her Master of Arts qualification in Inclusive Arts Practice at the University of Brighton.

This resource has been developed as a creative response to research collected in early 2021 by Claudia; delving deep into the question of ‘How can everyday art materials support Neurodiverse people to tell stories and share life experiences?’.

As an immersive researcher, Claudia ran a series of online creative storytelling workshops working alongside two Autistic participants.

In the workshops participants were encouraged to develop self-agency by choosing the materials and creative processes they were using to tell stories. This meant a shift from planned activities to experiment with low-tech materials including smartphones and open-source editing apps had to occur: an unfamiliar territory for me as a technological-based creative.

As a result, participants developed their own storytelling process: using familiar art materials (coloured pens and paper characters) combined with an unfamiliar, abstract process (typing words into Zoom chat box and verbalising phrases). This creative storytelling method supported participants self-development as they reported feeling “free making art” and the process allowed them to “own my stories” (Participants March 2021).

Throughout the research, one core theme became prevalent: a sense of freedom and liberation that existed when taking ownership of the stories that were told and created – specifically through text and non-linear speech.

The intention

The intention is, has been, as always will be to educate and provide insight into ‘Storytelling on the Spectrum’. The content included on IO Stories steers away from the traditional notions of Autism Spectrum Conditions as ‘something needing to be fixed’, and alternatively focusses on embracing differences and Neurodiversity within the creative realms.

Split into 4 sections, this resource covers the topics of:

Assessing Autism: Various diagnostic tools and assessments used to identify Autism Spectrum Conditions. (This is a collection of factual references in a poster format.)

Storytelling Techniques: Storytelling techniques, barriers and solutions that could be incorporated into workshops for Autistic individuals. (This is a presentation in a slideshow format).

Devised vs. Prescribed: Explanation of incorporating devised and prescribed storytelling processes with Autistic people. (This is a descriptive explanation in audio format).

LiberArt(E): Example of one Autistic artist’s creative storytelling process. (This is a creative story in video format).

Important information

Disclosure: The resource is not suitable to be utilised as a diagnostic and/or psycho-analytical framework when working with Autistic individuals. Any recommendations made within the resource are to be perceived as a guide and not as definitive strategies for inclusion.

As the resource content has been developed from research gathered predominantly from a small qualitative participant group and Claudia’s own experiences, it should not be perceived as entirely representational of the wider Autistic communities expressions and views.

An affirmation model of disability is taken throughout the resource by using ‘Autistic’ as oppose to ‘person/people with Autism’, in respect of the participants and members of the Autistic community Claudia consulted whilst making this resource.