Photo: Joshua Huston
“By the time Jackie Moffitt was 16, he had transferred schools four times and was longing for a community where he could be accepted as his authentic self — an autistic person. “Autistic people are very dehumanized in our society,” says Moffitt. “They are perceived as being incapable of emotions. People are surprised that people with autism can understand humor or love. They assume that having autism means a lack of desire to connect with other human beings.”
Seeking this connection, Moffitt discovered Theater of Possibility (TOP), a theater arts program based in Seattle and Bellevue serving kids who are “quirky, spirited, or shy or who may have Asperger’s, autism, ADHD, or other learning or ability differences,” as the demographic is described on the TOP website.
Through theater games, improvisation, and role-playing led by TOP Director Lauren Goldman Marshall, Moffitt learned to embrace many of his personal attributes like extreme extroversion and abstract thinking that he’d previously felt pressure to repress.
“A lot of times for kids with disabilities their whole life is about people telling them what they’re deficient in,” says Marshall, who co-founded TOP in the years after her own daughter was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. “With TOP, they are here first and foremost to have fun and create theater together. I’m definitely highlighting relationship skills, but it’s brought in more through the back door. It’s about making kids feel successful.”
Now 21, Moffitt works as a teacher’s assistant at TOP, supporting the next generation of autistic children as they learn and grow while they also reach a level of self-acceptance.
“It’s not just about autistic people needing to learn neurotypical social skills so they can pass in a world that is majority non-autistic people,” says Moffitt. “I think that neurotypical people should also learn how to empathize with autistic people’s perspective and communicate with them on their own terms.”
Photos: Andrea Sassenrath
Popsicle Place, located primarily at the Mary’s Place Guest Rooms in South Lake Union and at a Mary’s Place house in Shoreline, gives homeless families with chronically sick kids a place to rest and recuperate. Families get private rooms, or the use of single-family houses that are loaned to the organization. The cost to run Popsicle Place varies by location and need of the families. The organization has received a couple of grants for the program, but primarily the funding comes from the general Mary’s Place budget.
Those who use Popsicle Place services include families with children battling cancer and mothers with babies born premature. The program is currently hosting about nine families but has the capacity to shelter more.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MARY’S PLACE HERE
“Amber Wise never imagined that her 5-year-old son Josiah would one day be diagnosed with leukemia.
‘He was complaining that his legs hurt,’ Wise said. ‘It kept getting worse, and so we took him to the local hospital in Spokane, but they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him.’
Finally, after running several blood tests, Wise received a call informing her that her son had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
‘When we found out he had cancer, I felt like I hit the bottom of the barrel,’ Wise said.
At the time, Wise and her family were homeless, struggling to secure stable housing in Moses Lake, a city on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. With the help of a relative, she relocated with her wife and son to Seattle where Josiah could receive the best possible care at Seattle Children’s Hospital.”
Pick up a copy from your local Seattle Real Change vendor!
In her sublime new Netflix standup special, Old Baby, premiering on May 2nd, Maria Bamford performs a comedy set in increasingly larger venues. What begins as a few jokes in front of a mirror, progresses to a living room, onto a bowling alley, and so on, until she goes out with a bang on a big stage. The special is sparkling, her jokes are original, and her audience grows more hysterical with laughter as the size of the performance venue expands and shrinks. She is truly magnificent.
Maria Bamford is my favorite comedian. I admire everything she stands for as a comic and as a human being, and told her so in stream of barely intelligible gushing at the beginning of our interview. I rarely find myself star struck these days, but Bamford is special. Her comedy has served as somewhat of a lifeline to me during particularly dark times, and I was determined to repay her with a good interview. My enthusiasm was profuse and unsettling, but she accepted it with grace. Stephen Colbert may have proclaimed her to be his favorite comedian on planet earth, but she is my favorite comedian in the history of the universe and I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to express my sincere gratitude and adoration.
I asked Bamford several relevant questions about her comedy special, but then, throwing caution to the wind, I dove in with the 36 questions. If you’re not familiar, the 36 questions refer to a study by the psychologist Arthur Aron (and others) that explores whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions. I had recently read Mandy Len Catron’s Modern Love essay, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” and thought if there was ever a moment to accelerate intimacy, this interview was it. I asked Bamford if she’d heard of the 36 questions. She had. With genuine excitement she exclaimed, “let’s fall in love!” And we did. Or at least I did. Again.
Adam Wenzel. Photo: Joshua Huston
“We can all conjure an image of a bully, drawing from TV shows and movies like Back to the Future, Mean Girls and A Christmas Story (poor Ralphie!). But the truth is, bullying is not a normal, inevitable part of childhood. It’s a serious deviation. Gone are the days of dismissing repeated, aggressive behavior among school-aged children as merely kids being kids.
Decades of research have taught us that children who are bullied — as well as those who inflict the bullying — often suffer anxiety, depression, poor academic performance and physical ailments, and are at a higher risk for substance abuse and a wide range of other health problems in adulthood.
Committee for Children, a Seattle nonprofit, is working to prevent bullying through a social-emotional learning program being taught to 80,000 Puget Sound-area students at 130 schools.
‘It’s not just about making kids better, it’s about working with adults and an entire community to create a climate where bullying is not the norm, not tolerated, not OK,’ says Mia Doces, director of the New Mission Ventures program at the committee.
No parent wants to discover that their child is getting pelted in the head every day on their morning bus ride or eating lunch in the bathroom to avoid taunting in the cafeteria. But if you don’t ask, you may never know. Many kids either don’t recognize that it’s a problem they should report, or they feel too ashamed to tell someone they trust.”
What an amazing gift to work on this powerful documentary about opioid addiction. Proud to know these folks and so grateful for the opportunity to help change the national conversation on this issue.
Watch the full MTV documentary here:
“Prescription For Change: Ending America’s Opioid Crisis”
If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, know that you are not alone, that you are loved unconditionally, and that there is help. Learn more at:
Jocelyn Skillman, Youth and Family Therapist. Photo: Joshua Huston
“What Seattle’s children are anxious about today might surprise you. While many are afraid of the dark or getting bad grades, some local mental health professionals say others worry about Mt. Rainier erupting and Donald Trump becoming president.
Regardless of the source, anxiety is a natural part of being alive. When we perceive danger, our thoughts race, our heart rate increases, stress hormones pump and our breath becomes shallow. This physiological response compels us into action when a real threat is present, or it’s time to perform a challenging task. But when the anxiety is prolonged and irrational, it can become a barrier to fully engaging in life. “
Or pick up a hard copy at your local Seattle library!
“Legendary SNL cast member Ana Gasteyer lives up to her reputation on the brilliant new Netflix streaming comedy Lady Dynamite, on which she plays talent agent Karen Grisham. Created by Arrested Development‘s Mitch Hurwitz and writer/producer Pam Brady, Lady Dynamite follows comedian Maria Bamford (playing a version of herself) as she struggles with mental illness and her career in Hollywood.
If you’ve ever met a talent agent in the flesh, you’ve probably met someone like Gasteyer’s Karen Grisham. She chatters at the speed of light, flatters with abandon, and is prone to deranged bouts of irrational anger. Saying so much crazy so quickly was a challenge, but Gasteyer makes it look easy. Be forewarned: the jokes land swiftly, so it can be difficult to catch all the funny over the sound of your own laughter.
I caught up with Gasteyer on Lady Dynamite, her jazzy musical act, and method acting at the guacamole table.”