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Kathy Marshack News

No More Power Struggles in Your ASD/NT Relationship – Is It Possible?

Monday, December 31, 2018


No More Power Struggles in Your ASD/NT Relationship – Is It Possible?There’s a big difference between a relationship where two people have differences as they work as a team toward shared goals and a relationship where the couple fights to “win” and be “right”. The first relationship is marked by love, caring, trust, respect and shared values; the latter is not.

I don't have an easy answer for this question actually. In the past, I’ve written about how entrepreneurial couples can avoid power struggles at work by putting away fears and egos. Yet these suggestions for avoiding power struggles or disengaging when they start just don't seem to work with people on the ASD Spectrum. Their logical mind sees that you are “wrong” and they won't let up until they wear you down. It's as if there's a volcano inside that is overflowing and can't be stopped even when you capitulate.

Autistic power struggles are different than meltdowns. They aren't due to sensory overload or some other emotional disequilibrium that people on the Spectrum experience. Rather it’s their black and white thinking that seems to stump them. They tend to seize on a small point of disagreement and take it to the extreme.

According to a research paper entitled, “When Eros meets Autos: Marriage to someone with autism spectrum disorder” by Rench, Cathryn, Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2014, 264 pages; 3681894, their study revealed:

“Often it is the partner without AS, or neurotypical (NT), who is considered responsible for the relational distress, usually the female due to the heavily male-skewed AS diagnostic ratio of 8:1. There’s a pattern of intimate partner abuse so pervasive that it emerged as the lifestyle of the couples. The five forms of domestic violence (emotional, sexual, psychological, economic, physical) characterized the lived experience of the participants.”

Within these five areas – emotional, sexual, psychological, economic, or physical – where do you feel the biggest power struggle occurs in your marriage, partnership, or relationship? Perhaps identifying this will help you begin regaining the personal power you've given away.

If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, please join us for the next low-cost video conference, “No More Power Struggles”. It will be held on January 3rd at 2:00 PM PT and again on January 8th at 10:00 AM PT. Let’s use this time to talk more about why our Aspies engage in power struggles, but even more important is how to protect ourselves from these difficult moments.

If the conference is full and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Should the Placebo Affect Have a Place in Conventional Medicine?

Monday, December 17, 2018


Research is showing that the Placebo Effect should be used for much more than making clinical trials fair. Did you know that people who regularly attend psychotherapy heal faster, have stronger marriages, and live longer? Our thoughts have tremendous power to influence our state of health and well-being. Since we can change our body chemistry with our thoughts and the Placebo Affect taps into this power, shouldn't we learn to use it ethically?


What is the Placebo Affect or Placebo Response?

According to Webmd, “A placebo is anything that seems to be a "real" medical treatment -- but isn't. It could be a pill, a shot, or some other type of "fake" treatment. What all placebos have in common is that they do not contain an active substance meant to affect health.”

While definitions like this circulate, people will discount the value of the Placebo Affect, since they view it as “fake” medicine. They think that you have to be weak-minded people to be susceptible to its power.

Therefore, you might be surprised that research is showing there are credible reasons for using the Placebo Effect in treatment. In a recent New York Times article, the writer Gary Greenberg reports on a recent conference that sheds light on this controversial subject. He gives some convincing arguments for the efficacy of Placebo Medicine. I especially found the genetic correlation to the Placebo Response intriguing. Also of interest is that researchers using fMRI machines have found consistent patterns of brain activation in placebo responders. There’s obviously more to the Placebo Effect than once thought.

However, the point is that, for whatever reason, the Placebo Effect does have the power to make people feel better. Maybe because we call it placebo, instead of the name of a proper healing method, we find it hard to accept its benefits. An Ancient Greek healer Asklepios built a retreat center in the hills, where Greeks came to heal. He insisted that theater, exercise, diet, and peaceful surroundings were necessary for healing. He also administered medicines and surgeries.

When Hippocrates came along, Asklepios’ was diminished. Now we, in the west, are locked into a regressive healthcare system by corporate insurance interests. The human body has many natural healing mechanisms, if we only encourage people to use them.

If you have a chronic condition that isn’t responding to conventional treatment and you’d like to explore holistic treatments that have proven to be very effective for my clients, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Do You Feel Like Life Is Passing You By?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


If not now, WHEN?Throughout our lives, there are times when we have to put our dreams on hold. Perhaps it’s because of paying off debts or suffering from an illness. Oftentimes as a parent, you put your big dreams on hold to give your children the attention they need. Maybe the death of a loved one stops you in your tracks. Whatever the reason, you get sidetracked.

How do you know when it’s time to bring those dreams back to life? One big indicator is if it feel like everyone else is pursuing their dreams, and you’re being left behind. If those feelings are welling up in you, it’s time to take stock of where you are and where you want to be.

Being jealous of what everyone else is doing isn’t a good way to live your life. Being regretful about lost opportunities isn’t healthful either. Neither is settling for the status quo because “you’ve already missed your big chance.” How do you know that for a certainty? Whatever happened in the past is gone. Your time to shine is NOW!

Interestingly, a study published in Nature reveals that people often experience a hot streak at some point in their lives – like the man at the roulette wheel who keeps piling up his winnings, as his number keeps hitting. Or the basketball player who can do no wrong as he dunks ball, after ball, after ball. Or think about the recording artist who makes the big times, with one hit after another.

During our lives and careers, we all have slumps and we have hot streaks. You don’t have to be young to hit a hot streak. A hot streak is not necessarily about being massively productive. It’s more about the quality of your work.

I believe that the keys to success are

1. to follow your dreams,

2. to believe in them and

3. to be persistent even when others don’t support you.

As long as you keep trying, your best work may still be in your future. Never feel like you have nothing left to give.

Is low self-confidence or anxiety holding you back? I can help you find the courage and confidence to follow your dream. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule. If not now, when?

Going Over the Edge? Protect Yourself from ASD Empathy Dysfunction

Monday, December 10, 2018


People with high functioning autism want to have loving relationships. It’s just very challenging for them and their partners, when they can’t connect the dots. As a result, there are some "Not So Ordinary Moments" with our Aspies that are confusing and exhausting, which makes you feel like you're going over the edge. For example, in my book, “Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD)” I share a true life experience of a married couple I counseled (names changed to protect privacy) that illustrates this point:

Joe and Katrina planned a short trip out of state to attend his mother’s wedding. She had bought airplane tickets for the couple. So they decided to make it into a mini-vacation, with time away from the kids.

A couple of weeks before the wedding, Katrina’s sister was killed in a terrible auto accident. Of course, Katrina wanted to scrap the wedding and stay with her sister’s family. Not only had she lost a sister, Katrina’s children had lost their aunt, and her brother-in-law was in such a state of grief he could hardly function.

Joe, who has Asperger’s, didn’t understand his wife’s feelings. His logical thought was not to waste the airline tickets, since he had already arranged the time off work for the vacation. So he insisted that Katrina go to the wedding. He reasoned that she’d already had a full two weeks to help out her family, so she could leave to go on the wedding trip.

Do you get why Katrina was still upset? Empathy allows you to understand how other people feel. Unfortunately, Autism is a brain disorder that restricts the brain connections that are so necessary to connect empathically with others.

When you’re confronted with ASD disconnect, here are a few principles that will keep you from going over the edge…

1. If it feels like abuse, it is. Even if your Aspie doesn't mean it, your heart, mind and body respond as if it is abuse. Protect yourself.
2. Always believe in yourself. Even if you can't justify your position to your Aspie, you don't have to. Trust that you know what you are talking about and have the right to your opinion.
3. If you can afford it, hire things done. Don't wait for your Aspie to remember to mow the lawn, or whatever. It may not seem fair, but why take it out on your health?
4. Take time out with friends. If you don't have friends after years of Aspie isolation, make friends by joining group activities. It's like rain on the desert to be with other NTs, even those you hardly know.
5. Find a psychologist skilled in NT/ASD relationships who can work with you and won't tell you to adapt!

Because some in my family are on the Spectrum, I understand what you’re going through. If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, please join us for the next free international, teleconference, Going over the edge? Don’t let Aspies grind you down. It will be held on December 13th at 3:00 PM PT. Let’s use the time together to suggest more ways to pull yourself back from the edge.



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