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Kathy Marshack News

Give Your Autistic Child Positive Reinforcement

Sunday, October 31, 2010

In a recent blog, I wrote about the value of learning the early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders. The benefit of early recognition is that specific training can begin immediately. One type of training is to instill positive reinforcement when working with your child. When you reinforce their good behavior, it will help them to understand what is the right way to act.

This actually works whether or not your child has ASD. However, as parents it’s so easy to fall into only commenting on bad behavior. In order to give positive reinforcement, you have to be looking for the good behavior and good qualities that they are exhibiting and be quick to commend them. When giving commendation, be specific. Explain what they did that you liked and why you liked it. Did they do a good job making eye contact? Did they use the right language? Even a little thing can be a good thing to reinforce.

Another way to do this is to offer rewards when they have done something positive. Make sure that the reward fits the child otherwise it will not mean anything to them. The reward can be verbal or something tangible. The goal is to help them to make the connection that their good behavior equals positive reinforcement.

Each child is different, so different things work for different children. So be patient and focus on the positive. For more information on positive reinforcement, read Being Proactive in Therapy and Research.

If you are parenting with a spouse with Asperger Syndrome, download a free sample chapter from my newest project Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind.



How to Accurately Assess Your Management Style in a Family Firm

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Being the owner-manager of a family firm requires juggling many roles not just with family members but with employees as well. The way marital and family obligations are handled affects management style with employees and vice versa.


For example, in family firms where spouses work together, management style must be assessed in three arenas: 1) marital, 2) parenting, and 3) business management. Furthermore, the integration of these three styles must be assessed.

What is your marital style? Are you both leaders? Is one the leader and the other the support person? Does the style change depending on context? Are you a team? Or are you both separate and dedicated to your own spheres? Does your marital style differ greatly from your parenting style or your management style? Whatever your marital style - know it. Don't assume that it is irrelevant in your family firm. If it is incompatible with the business, then you will have many problems. Employees sense the discrepancies. They know when there has been a marital fight.

What kind of a parent are you? If a couple has children, whether they work in the business or not, be aware of parenting style too. Parenting style is affected by business-management style and vice versa. Those lessons are translated to the work place. Are you an authoritarian parent? Are you permissive? Are you authoritative? Parenting style is obviously related to marital style. If two marital partners do not think alike about parenting, there will be a disorganized, and possibly, very depressed family. Equally so, it is important that parent/owners determine if they are treating employees the way they treat their children.

What about your management style? Management styles can be categorized as one of the four styles: 1) telling, 2) selling, 3) participative, 4) delegating. Which are you? Are you apt to tell employees what to do? Or do you build a good case for what they should do? Or do you include employees or other managers in the process of developing new business? Finally, are you inclined to run the show yourself but delegate tasks to team members?

After honestly assessing these three arenas, keep these four important points in mind:

1. Accept who you are. Whatever your style, it is probably the most comfortable way for you to be. This doesn't mean there is no room for improvement. But it's best to start with who you are and then to build marital, parental, and management styles around your personality.

2. Accept your spouse's style, too. She or he has developed a certain personality that is unlikely to change. Rather, you two are looking for ways for both of you to realize your full potential.

3. When considering a parenting style, not only do your consider your partner's style, but you must also include the personalities and needs of your children. Most parents are astounded at how wildly different each one of their children are.

4. Remember that your management style at work is more related to your marital and parenting styles than you realize. It is in the family that we first learn to relate to others. How you treat employees and how you want them to treat you is dependent upon your understanding and utilization of these early lessons.

Understanding your unique management style in the workplace and how you have integrated past and present family lessons into a family business will help you to be flexible and to adapt to whatever may come. I work with family businesses in the Portland/Vancouver area to help them balance family issues with business issues – click here for more about my work with Entrepreneurial Couples.

My book Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home is also available for purchase.

How to Make Your Therapy Sessions Count

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A therapy or counseling session may be necessary for a variety of reasons. Regardless of what those reasons may be, the ultimate goal is to understand yourself better so that you can deal with your situation(s) in a healthy way. You might think that all the responsibility falls on the therapist or counselor, but really for therapy to be most effective is largely up to you as a client. 


Are you willing to put the work in to make the most out of your therapy sessions?

Here are a few tips to make your therapy session count:

1. Find a therapist you trust. To find a therapist you can trust, first consult with a close friend or relative. You may also want to ask advice of your minister, priest or rabbi. A respected professional such as your family doctor could refer you to a mental health professional. If you cannot trust you therapist, you won't get very far in personal progress.

2. Come to each session prepared. Think in advance about the issues or concerns that you would like to discuss. Some have found it helpful to write these things down. If your therapist has given you "homework", do it! Remember that this is your therapy and to make it count, you have to put in the work. Even though you may come prepared, it is still important to let the therapist guide you through the session.

3. Speak openly and honestly. Withholding information or your real emotions is of no value to you or to your therapist. How can you work through your issues if you are not willing to share them? A therapist is someone you can confide in. They value confidentiality and are not there to judge you or your emotions. Like any good relationship, it takes time to develop. The same goes with your relationship with your therapist.

4. Be regular. Stick with the schedule your therapist recommends for you. If you are sporadic with your sessions, it will be difficult to make progress in an effective manner.

Visit Therapy Frequently Asked Questions for more information. You can also visit Psychotherapy Options to learn more about the treatment options that I utilize.

Be Proactive - Learn the Early Signs of ASD

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

According to the CDC, 1 in 110 children in the United States are being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD. With the numbers rising, it is of high importance that parents be proactive and learn the early signs of ASD. Early diagnosis is vital! This knowledge will make an enormous difference in the life of the child and the parent. Once the diagnosis is made, then training can begin.

The Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention is taking note of the delayed diagnosis of ASD and is now working to educate parents on the early signs of ASD. They have a wide variety of tools available on their website. For example, one tool enables parents to keep track of milestones in the early development of their child and what they should be looking for. They also discuss what to do if you are concerned, how to talk to your doctor, where do go for an evaluation, free resource kits and much more.

I encourage you to take advantage of the many resources that are available. Don't delay! This could greatly impact your future and the future of your child. To learn more about parenting with a spouse with ASD click here.

Do You Bicker with Your Spouse?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Is bickering all too common in your household? Granted, conflicts will arise in a marriage, but it is important to get bickering under control. If you don't, then you could be heading down the road to divorce. It may be difficult at first to change the way you handle these types of conflict. It is important to remember that effort is required!

Here are a few tips to resolve bickering:

1. Remember that the differences between the two of you are probably some of the reasons that made you fall in love with each other.
You probably didn't focus at the time on everything that you didn't like about your new love. In fact, you may have never noticed anything that big, but instead viewed those differences as thrilling. But over time, the differences between the two of you surface more and more often. One way to get past the bickering is to remind yourself that you love and admire this person. Focus on those qualities, not the behavior that annoys you.

2. Keep in mind that people change.
Our basic personalities probably don't change that much, but how we apply our personalities to the experiences in life does shape and define us. Your spouse may be showing you a side of him or herself that you never knew existed. Be careful not to resist this new information because it is different. Give yourself time to adjust to the change. Talk about it with your spouse. Change may be painful, but it is the very nature of living things to change.

3. Spend quality time together.
In this day and age, it is easy to be all consumed with work and leave little time with your spouse. Think about it. If you are bickering with your spouse, could it be because you have had no quality time lately? Or could it be because you are sleep-deprived? Or could it be that it's been a long time since you laughed? Take the time to set your priorities and follow them. There will always be another phone call to answer and another deadline to meet that will draw you away from balancing your priorities. But you don't get that many chances to restore a faltering relationship.

If you find that you cannot get your bickering under control, it may be time to seek the help from a marriage counselor. There may be other underlying problems that need to be dealt with. Click here for more information about Marriage Counseling. If you’re an “entrepreneurial couple” you can get specific communication advice in my book – Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home.

The Benefits of Keeping Your Child Physically Active

Monday, October 04, 2010

Most of us are aware of the many benefits of exercise for ourselves and our children. New research is uncovering an additional benefit to having a physically active child. According to a study performed at the University of Illinois, children who are more physically fit have a better memory than children who are not fit. (The study focused on children between the ages of 9 and 10.) By using an MRI, researchers measured the hippocampus, which is an area in the brain known for memory and learning. The physically fit children had a larger hippocampus and did better on tests relating to relational memory. For a more details on this study, read - Children's Brain Development Is Linked to Physical Fitness, Research Finds.

It is important for parents to help keep their children healthy and active. It's definitely not always easy, but the benefits are well worth it. Here are a few tips to help you get your children back in shape:

1. Be a good example. If you want your children to be active, then so should you. Children learn more from example than just hearing your words.

2. Set a limit on television, internet, and video games. Have times during the day where the whole family unplugs. Active games like Wi™ are fun and can be good exercise but it shouldn’t replace a bike ride, nature walk or the jungle gym at your local park.

3. Make exercise part of your regular family schedule. Schedule time everyday for something active. Ask your child if they have any suggestions.

4. Keep it fun! If you don't then your child will resent it.

Don't wait. Get your children moving and they will benefit mentally, emotionally, academically and of course physically. Visit Parenting for more tips on how to be a good parent.

Type D Personalities May Be at Risk for Heart Disease

Friday, October 01, 2010

If you are a Type D personality, you may have a higher risk for heart disease, according to a summary article published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. Most of us are familiar with Type A and B personalities but maybe you’ve never heard of Type D. This personality  is characterized by a tendency towards worry, irritability and gloom, social inhibition and a lack of self-assurance.

Forty-nine studies with some 6,000 patients were analyzed during this research. Viola Spek, Ph.D., senior author of the study and a researcher at Tiburg University in the Netherlands stated, "Type D patients tend to experience increased levels of anxiety, irritation and depressed mood across situations and time, while not sharing these emotions with others because of fear of disapproval." For more information, read the article - Type D Personality Associated With Higher Future Heart Risk.

If you can relate to the Type D personality, you should consider seeking help from a mental health care professional. They will be able to help you work through negative feels and emotions. Visit Managing Stress on my website for specific stress management tips. You can improve your physical and emotional health!

New Study Reveals a Genetic Link Related to Migraine Headaches

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More than 30 million Americans suffer the incapacitating agony of recurring head pain or migraines. Pain of the head, face and neck is one of the most intense forms of pain one can experience, and may make it difficult to carry out normal living. The reasons for migraines have long been a mystery, but according to a new study, a genetic link may be to blame.

Scientists studied 50,000 Europeans and found that people with a variation in a particular section of DNA that regulates the chemical, glutamate. The buildup of glutamate may put you at greater risk for migraine headaches. This is the first time that a specific genetic link has been found. For more details on this study, read First Genetic Link Found For Common Migraine.

Migraines can be debilitating. If you suffer from these chronic headaches, I encourage you to visit a physician and a psychotherapist. Together they can work to improve the severity of your headaches and help you cope with the stress of chronic pain. Visit Headache Relief on my website for more information.

Do You Have a Gifted Child?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Have you ever wondering if your child is gifted? A gifted person according to the National Association of Gifted Children is, "someone who shows, or has the potential for showing, an exceptional level of performance in one or more areas of expression.” It is generally recognized that approximately five percent of the student population, or three million children, in the United States are considered gifted.

A child would be considered gifted if they excelled in these areas:


  • General intellectual ability or talent
  • Specific academic aptitude or talent
  • Creative and productive thinking
  • Leadership ability
  • Visual and performing arts

If you feel like your child is gifted, it is important to observe their behavior. Ask yourself:

  • Is your child intense?
  • Is he/she a perfectionist?
  • Has your child been identified by your school district as “gifted”?
  • Is your child an “underachiever”?
  • Is your child a rebel?
  • Is your child a leader?
  • Does your child prefer adults or older children rather than same-age playmates?
  • Do you feel awkward talking about your child’s gifts to other parents?
  • Does your child “dumb-down” in order to fit in?

If you answered, “yes” to one or more of the questions listed above about your child you will probably benefit from an individual intellectual and achievement evaluation by a qualified psychologist. If they conclude that your child is indeed gifted, then seek specific guidance and training for them. Gifted children are fundamentally different and need help to learn social, interpersonal and self-development skills to relate to the rest of humanity. By doing this you can understand and perhaps even avoid some common problems gifted children commonly face such as a lack of motivation, boredom, perfectionism, cynicism and even depression. For more information visit Guiding A Gifted Child on my website.

How to Cope with Addiction in the Family Firm

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Alcoholism and other drug abuse is an epidemic in our country. We are all aware of the general problem nationwide. Many employers are taking a hard look at the problems caused by drug abuse and alcohol addiction and have established employee assistance programs and redesigned insurance benefits to create treatment options for employees. Yet among family firms, drug addiction and alcohol abuse are frequently overlooked.

If there is an alcoholic in a family firm, be the founder, spouse, son, daughter, or in-law, the family is likely to overlook, condone, deny, rationalize or minimize the problem for the sake of keeping the family system intact. If the founder is alcoholic, alcoholism may be a family "tradition" that will be hard to break. That is, drinking may be interwoven into the fabric of family life and corporate life. Allowing addictions to go untreated is no way to take care of either the business or the family. By ignoring the problem the addict accepts this as tacit approval of their behavior. And by ignoring the problem, the potential threat to the integrity of the family and business grows. Alcoholism and other addictions leads to the breakdown of the family, just what a family firm wants to avoid.

What can help members of the family firm address these problems? Here are a few things to consider:

1.The addict is fortunate to have the backing of both his/her family as well as his/her business. With the support of the two most important systems in one's life, the addict has increased potential to succeed in treatment. They have a loving family and they have a job to come back to.

2. Stand as a united front when approaching the addict. If there are dissenters, the addict will solicit allies to defend their continued drug abuse and will not seek the help that they need.

3. To deal with the humiliation of recognizing that a family member is an alcoholic, education will help. Professional treatment centers emphasize that alcoholism and drug abuse are best understood as diseases. They must be confronted with their irresponsible and manipulative behavior so that they can change it. With professional treatment and ongoing support, they can be returned to their former productive and loving lives.

If you find your family is in this situation, contact Alcoholics Anonymous. Don't wait! To read more about addiction in the family firm, read this article in its entirety -  Addiction 'conspiracy' of silence hurts the family and business. You can also visit Alcoholism Recovery on my website.

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