Redmond resident Sara Gardner always knew she was different. She graduated second in her high school class, but had very few friends. She was accepted into the National Honor Society and earned a New York State Regents scholarship, and yet was never invited to parties nor had a clue as to how she might attempt to be invited. The answer came in the form of a diagnosis when she was 41 years old—autism spectrum disorder (ASD).This news was a huge relief. She found she took comfort in the fact that she now had a tangible, documented diagnosis for that difference that had followed her around her whole life. Soon, however, her relief led to an emotional landslide and she sunk into a deep depression. “Oh no, I have a handicap; all this time I thought I was so smart,” she recalls thinking.With the help of an Asperger syndrome* (see footnote) support group, however, her final stop on this poignant ride was acceptance. The time she spent in the group (of which she eventually became president) showed her just how easily she could fit in and connect with the ASD community because of the many things they shared. “We really understood each other and had had similar experiences,” she said. It was here that Gardner first found herself diving wholeheartedly into a cultural identity she never knew existed, or dreamed that she would fit into so seamlessly.The idea of autism as a cultural identity has been gaining traction among some of the estimated 2 million individuals in the country with ASD. This shift in perspective became the subject of a public conversation in Seattle this summer, when the Washington chapter of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) criticized advertisements for Seattle Children’s Research Institute on the sides of Metro buses that featured the smiling face of a boy and the message “Let’s wipe out cancer, diabetes and autism in his lifetime.” Local ASAN members objected to the way it reinforced the idea of autism as something tragic and undesirable to be eliminated. Chapter leader Matt Young, who is autistic, explained that this sort of sentiment is an attack on who he is as a person. Not only does he believe this point of view creates psychological harm, but that it can lead neurotypical (a term used by some in the autistic community to describe those with typical brain function) parents to pursue what he considers desperate measures to try to fix the perceived problem. Young and others in the autism community believe the focus should be on acceptance and appreciation, which, among many other things, includes calling those with autism “autistic people,” not “people who have autism.” “Putting it front and center challenges the idea that there’s anything shameful about being portrayed as autistic,” Young says. The change is coming from inside the autism community, says Annette Estes, director of the University of Washington Autism Center. “There are more people than ever before that are self-identified and identified as having autism spectrum disorder who are very eloquent and who have very good communication skills,” Estes says. In a still small subset of the autism community, networking and discussions are now less focused on cures or ways to become more “normal,” and centered more on how to successfully navigate a world not designed for them. The documentary Neurotypical, which aired this summer, showed how there is even, among some with ASD, a reverse snobbism about the limitations of being merely typical. *Autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder–not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome are grouped under one umbrella diagnosis of ASD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition
It’s an election season and while many Seattleites are choosing to express themselves by voting, we think Halloween costumes are far more effective at shaping society. Should you opt to dress in one of these seven highly topical (and highly ridiculous) costume suggestions, we are not liable for any embarrassment, pointing or injuries that may occur at your Halloween party.
It's become kind of a healing ritual. With the arrival of fall, my wife and I head out to say hello to a national park. Last year, it was Glacier in northern Montana; before that, Wind Cave in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This year, we went closer to home to Olympic on the peninsula.
Seattle sculptor and installation artist Todd Jannausch (toddjannausch.com) has a new solo show, Callus, which runs 11/15–12/21 at Pioneer Square gallery Method (methodgallery.com). He’ll also give a gallery talk (11/21 at 6 p.m.). COFFEE SHOP: All City Coffee in Georgetown, a Tuesday morning in JulyTODD’S ORDER: 12-ounce wet cappuccino
Longtime Seattleites remember it as a day of infamy: July 3, 2000, when the iconic neon R atop the Rainier Brewery was wrenched from its nearly-50-year perch and replaced with—egads—a neon green T, marking the building as the new home of Tully’s Coffee. But drivers who’ve spent the past 13 years cursing the glowing green initial hovering over I-5 can finally stop gnashing their teeth: the 12-foot-tall red R returns on October 24. It’s actually a facsimile—the original R remains in the atrium at the Museum of History & Industry—but even a simulacrum is satisfying.
Score! Seattle is the only U.S. venue to host Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon, a rare and astonishing collection of sculpture, metalwork, paintings and textiles spanning a whopping 3,000 years and several cultures. Many of these masterpieces have never before left Peru, so be sure to show them a warm Seattle welcome. 10/17–1/5/14. seattleartmuseum.org
Must Be AfraidGet in the Spooky Spirit with Carrie: The Musical(Through 10/26, times vary) — Check out the Broadway take on Stephen King’s unsettling tale, as interpreted by Seattle’s own Balagan Theatre. Prepare for pig’s blood on prom night!
Linda*, a 35-year-old attorney in Seattle, is the first to admit that going out for breakfast with her is rather tortured. She calls herself über-controlling, and it starts with not eating anything with fat in it. No butter on her toast (and only one piece of toast, thank you), no cream in her coffee, no yolks in her eggs. No syrup, no pancakes, no red meat. Oatmeal is OK. “You make so many modifications to your meal, and the waiter gets upset with you, and your friends are looking at you like you are crazy,” she says. Recently, she fled the line outside a beer-and-brats place in Leavenworth where she was going to have a meal with friends. “I knew that I was going to be put in a position where I was going to get a beer, because everyone was getting beer, and I was not going to drink it,” she says. The brat was a nonstarter as well. “I thought, ‘I like sauerkraut a lot and I could just fill a bun with sauerkraut,’ but then people would look at me funny because I’m doing that, so I just felt like exiting the whole situation.” Afterward, it took many talks with her friends to smooth things over. Linda might sound like a character straight out of Portlandia, but here in Seattle, “you are what you eat” is serious business. For the majority of us, it’s all just a good-faith effort to eat healthily. But for some, that interest crosses over into disordered behavior, known as orthorexia nervosa.People with orthorexia are striving for the most healthful and pure way to eat, but when it is taken to the extreme, ironically, they can end up malnourished and underweight. Perhaps less dangerous but nonetheless disturbing, orthorexia wreaks havoc on people’s social relationships and can have an impact on their ability to work or go to school. “It’s totally consuming at times,” Linda says. “It’s all you think about and it ruins your ability to think about anything else. It can be very debilitating.”Unlike with other eating disorders, people with orthorexia focus on the quality of the food they are eating, rather than the quantity. “It can often start as a simple diet and then it can go to only eating organic food, then to organic, non-processed food, and then it becomes more pure and simplistic,” says Kimberley Quinlan, a psychotherapist at the OCD Center of Los Angeles. “So it develops in a stepping-stone way…[becoming] more and more restrictive, right to the point that sometimes it comes down to two or three food items only, because of the anxiety or the concern of what other foods are doing to them internally.”A physician named Steven Bratman coined the term orthorexia nervosa in an article he wrote for Yoga Journal in 1997. Bratman, also a practitioner of alternative medicine, noticed some of his patients were maintaining very rigid rules about what they would eat. He described people who spent inordinate amounts of time planning for, purchasing and eating food. Their inner lives were consumed with efforts to resist temptations, self-punishment for lapses, self-praise for compliance and a sense of superiority over others whose dietary habits were less pure. The term orthorexia broke into the mainstream earlier this year when Fox News anchor Mika Brzezinski said she suffered from it.Raven Bonnar-Pizzorno, director of nutrition services at The Moore Center, an eating disorder treatment facility in Bellevue that offers psychological and nutritional counseling, says that our Northwest culture idealizes healthy eating. “So people who are eating healthy are maybe smarter or more affluent, and we take this leap from just food to how it defines us as a person,” she says. “I think that’s where we start getting into trouble.”
Must Go GlamBellevueGet Ready for Serious Style at DIFFA Glam: Tablescapes(10/10, 6 to 9 p.m.) — Expect nothing but tip-top tabletop design at GLAM: Tablescapes, a style-filled soiree hosted by the Seattle chapter of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA).
A hyper-nerdy take on cooking, molecular gastronomy considers food at the chemical level—how exactly does heat make an egg physically transform? Seattle entrepreneur Nathan Myhrvold helped popularize this science with his book Modernist Cuisine (2011), which includes stunning photos of food in the moment of being cooked, taken at his Bellevue kitchen laboratory. Using unusual techniques, including sawing pots and pans in half, Myhrvold’s team shows us food as we’ve never seen it before.
Portland photographer Holly Andres creates scenes that are eerily familiar yet just out of reach. With elaborate sets, vintage props, costumes and staging reminiscent of Nancy Drew book covers, her cinematic tableaux resemble stills from a long-forgotten movie that still haunts your subconscious. Her new show, The Homecoming, reveals Andres’ early training as a painter, as well as her penchant for portraying young girls in pursuit of forbidden knowledge—and the resultant loss of innocence.
Thanks to a $10 million donation from Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, the new (and extremely improved!) Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) is opening a new section devoted to Seattle’s rich history of ingenuity. Spotlighting a huge range of local inventions and patents (from the Sonicare toothbrush to the Space Needle’s rotating restaurant), the Bezos Center for Innovation hopes to inspire ideas in future generations of Seattle entrepreneurs. Opens 10/12. mohai.org
Seattle Women’s Chorus: Hallows in the Cathedral A family-friendly mixed bill of classics (“Monster Mash”) and semantic stretches (“Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”) performed in an atmospheric church. Fear factor: Much of the lineup is frivolous fun, but Bach’s beckoning “Come, Soothing Death” is genuinely eerie. 10/18–10/26. Times and prices vary. St. Mark’s Cathedral, 1245 10th Ave. E, 206.388.1400; flyinghouse.org
“It’s a little rough and tumble,” says artist Gala Bent of the light-filled Ballard abode where she lives with husband and fellow artist Zack Bent and their three boys (Caspar, 4, Solomon, 6, and Ezra, 8). Since moving here in 2006 from Indiana (so Zack could attend the M.F.A. program at the University of Washington), the couple has rented the middle floor of this 1920s farmhouse turned triplex.