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Kathy Marshack News

New Brain Scan for Diagnosing Adult Autism

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Experts have been searching for easier methods to diagnose adult autism. Current methods can be lengthy and expensive. Scientists at King's College London are in the process of developing a brain scan to diagnose autism.

The Medical Research Counsel performed a study on 40 different individuals – 20 with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and 20 without ASD. They first diagnosed their patients using previously known methods and then performed a 15 minute MRI. Small differences in the brain were identified. They had a success rate of 90% according to the Journal of Neuroscience. For more detailed information on this study, read BBC News - New Brain Scan To Diagnose Autism.

These experts are hopeful that this test will become a widely used method for diagnosing ASD. Then the patient will be able to get immediate attention from a professional who can assist them with coping techniques. This is also exciting information because it may help us learn more about brain abnormalities and ASD.  

For more information on adult Autism Spectrum Disorder, visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions.

Help Your Special Needs Child Prepare for the New School Year

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Summer is flying by and before you know it you’re kids will be back to school. For parents who have children with special needs such ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) it can be stressful preparing your child for the new school year. I have put together a few tips to help make the transition from summer to school a little easier for you and your child.

Be Positive
It is only natural for your child to feel apprehensive about the new school year. You can help ease their worries by speaking positively about what they are going to experience this year. Get them excited about that they are going to learn. Recall to their minds the thing they enjoyed from previous years.

Get into a Routine
Even though school hasn't started yet, it’s a good idea to start getting into a good routine that will ease them into their school schedule. Set a wake up time and bedtime for your child. This may need to be done gradually for them to adjust. Also start with a few academic games/projects to refresh their memories and get them to prepared for what to expect when school starts. Consistency is key for both ADD and ASD.

Get Prepared
Include your child when you are getting prepared for the school year. Take them with you when you do their school shopping and let them pick out things that they like. Help them put together their backpacks, discuss lunch and snack options, and help them lay out their clothes for school the night before. Make the preparation a joint effort.

One other thing I really recommend doing – once you find out who your child's teacher will be – is to put together a packet about your child for the teacher. Take a look at the article How to Assemble a Teacher Information Packet for some helpful tips.

For additional back to school and safety tips, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics - Back To School Tips. My website also has information about Parenting a Child with ADD.

Partners & Family of Adults With ASD Support Group Goes International

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I wanted to share some of the exciting news about the Asperger Syndrome: Partner's & Family of Adults with ASD Support Group. Our small group has grown tremendously and now has 187 members. The members are not only those local to the Portland/Vancouver area, but we now have members from around the world from Europe, Great Britain, Dubai, East Africa, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

The message boards have become a place where members can discuss their concerns and gain support. Here is what one of our new members wrote:

"Kathy, I just wanted to let you know how much this group is helping me. I have found a wealth of information and understanding. The shame and guilt that have been so present for so long is lifting because of the stunning similarities other woman are walking in and willing to share so honestly and openly. I'm glad you started this group (I only wish I lived in Portland lol) but good things are happening on the message board.”

The message boards are private and for members only and I screen new members. It is important to me that this support group is maintained as a place of support and security.

Our next meeting is scheduled for August 14, 2010. The topic for discussion is "Aspie by Nature or Exposure?" I hope that you can join us – if not in person, then on the message boards!

Benefits of Eating Together as a Family

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Family dinner has become a lost tradition. Nowadays family members eat when they want and whatever they want or they may eat dinner around the television or in their separate bedrooms. Studies show that eating one meal a day together as a family can be highly beneficial.

First, it can help the family to eat a healthy and balanced diet. It is a great way to incorporate fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your family's diet. This will also help you to promote the concept of a healthy body image especially if you have a teenage daughter. You will be able to observe any unhealthy habits that your children may be developing.

Second, it will improve the family communication. This time is ideal for positive parental influence. Parents, use this time to talk to your children about what is happening in their life. Try to ascertain problems that they may be encountering like peer pressure. Do not use this time for disciplining. It will turn this enjoyable time into a time of dread.

I highly encourage you to take this counsel to heart and add it to your family schedule. You will be happy you did. It may take time to make it happen, so don't give up if it is taking time to coordinate. For more tips on parenting, visit the Parenting page on my website. Happy eating! 

7 Questions to Ask If You’re Interested In Working From Home

Thursday, July 29, 2010


For some, working from home sounds ideal. No morning/evening commute, no boss breathing down your neck, no dress code. . . These are just a few reasons why it may sound appealing. It is very important to weigh the pros and cons before making such a big decision as moving your office to the home.

 

I have worked from home for over 25 years so I’ve given this topic a lot of thought. I also work as a consultant for family businesses that are run from a home office. Some people thrive in that environment but for others it quickly becomes a nightmare!

 

I’ve compiled a list of 7 questions that I recommend asking yourself before making such a decision. Be sure to answer each question honestly.

1. Does your neighborhood allow home-based businesses? Are there any zoning restrictions?

2. Is your neighborhood a suitable location for your business?

3. Is your property well maintained with adequate parking for your clients/customers?

4. Does your house have a business office area suitable to your business' needs? Can visitors get to your business office without going through your entire house?

5. Does your family understand your plans and are they supportive?

6. Do you work well without supervision? Are you self-disciplined?

7. Do you mind being alone for long stretches of time?

For more information about the Entrepreneurial Life and making it work for you, click here.

Can Computers Help Someone with Asperger Syndrome?

Friday, July 23, 2010


Social anxiety, difficulty communicating, and lack of eye contact are all things that someone with Asperger Syndrome has to deal with. It is like a heavy weight that they carry with them wherever they go. So, the question is, what can help such ones improve their "skills"?

Love to Know - Autism had a really interesting article about how computer programs can benefit those with Asperger Syndrome. It highlighted that computer programs are now available to assist those with Asperger Syndrome to develop skills that do not come naturally to them such as eye contact, improving memory, and problem solving. (Please read the article to see the full list of benefits and a list of computer software for this purpose.)

A word of caution though, if you choose this route of additional therapy, keep in mind that computers have no emotion. These types of programs should not be a replacement for companionship, but rather a training ground. If your loved one has Asperger's, seek out treatment for them from a mental health care professional who is skilled in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Visit my website for more information about Asperger Syndrome Support.

I’m also writing a new book, “Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind”. It addresses the unique issues that come up when you’re co-parenting with an Aspie partner. Click here to download a free sample chapter.

Tips to Survive the Summer with Your ADHD Child

Thursday, July 22, 2010


If you have a child with ADHD, you will most likely hear the words "bored" or "nothing to do" all summer long. It can be a real challenge to keep an ADHD child entertained – especially when they are out of school for the summer. Their boredom can lead to frustration which in turn can cause them to act out. Instead of having a fun, enjoyable summer, you are at each other's throats.

Here are some tips to help you and your child survive the summer:

1. Stick to a schedule. Structure and ADHD work well together. A schedule will help your child know what to expect for the week/month which will help them feel secure. Post a schedule for chores, daily activities, and events for your child. Even schedule "free time".

2. Use the community. Your community will have plenty of resources available for you. Day camps, rec centers, county fairs, and festivals are great places to take your children. It gets them out of the house and can offer some wonderful stimulation.

3. Set a bedtime. All children need proper rest, but especially a child with ADHD. Not getting enough rest will only aggravate their symptoms.

4. Pick tasks that will stimulate creativity. Puzzles, crafts, and drawing/painting are great projects that will help your child to be creative and help build their self worth.

For more information on this topic, I recommend ADDitute Magazine's - Summer Activities for ADHD Kids, Preteens. Also visit my website for information about Parenting a Child with ADD/ADHD.

Behavioral Problems Linked to Sleep Disorder in Children with ASD

Saturday, July 17, 2010


It’s been estimated that 40-80% of children who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will have problems sleeping. This is a major concern as it can contribute to behavioral problems during the day. When your child isn’t sleeping well, he or she is more likely to be hyperactive, irritable, and aggressive. This puts the physical and emotional well-being of the child at risk.

If your child is not sleeping, then it means that you are not sleeping either – which is going to impact how you are dealing with your child's behavior. If this situation sounds familiar, here are a few things you can do to try to help your child get a good night’s rest:

1. Keep a sleep diary. By keeping a daily record of the day and night, it might help you to discern if there are things that are causing a night of poor sleep.

2. Foods that are a stimulate – like sugar and caffeine – should be avoided before bedtime.

3. Entertainment that can be stimulating should also be avoided. Instead of television or computer time, try something soothing and relaxing like reading a story or a light massage. Also keep the house quiet.

4. Start a bedtime routine and stick to it.

5. If problems persist, see your child's doctor.

A good night’s sleep is very valuable. You and your child deserve it. It may be a struggle to get it under control, but be patient. For more information, I recommend The National Autistic Society - Sleep and Autism - Helping Your Child.

Parenting a child with ASD, especially when your parenting with an ASD spouse, is no easy task. My new book “Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind” addresses these issues. A free sample chapter is now available for download. Click here for more information.

Is It Really A Good Idea To Work With Your Spouse?

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Working with your loved one can be very rewarding. As I have said often, “Who better to trust with your business than your spouse?” However, there is another side that should be looked at if you are considering the entrepreneurial couple life. It is important to think through this decision thoughtfully since whatever you decide will impact your marriage.

Here are some important things to consider:

WILL YOU HAVE TIME FOR ROMANCE? One of the major complaints I hear from practically all entrepreneurial couples is that they no longer have enough quality time together for romance and friendship.

CAN YOU HANDLE COMPETITION IN YOUR MARRIAGE? Another cause for stress with entrepreneurial couples is competition between them. This goes for other family members too. We have a strong need for recognition and approval from our spouses. We also have a strong need to feel like powerful, accomplished adults. But how do you feel about competing with your spouse? Who’s the boss? Who defers to whom? Can you gloat about an accomplishment when you just bested your spouse?

COULD YOU SUFFER FROM A LACK OF CREATIVITY? Many members of family enterprises complain that their world is small. In other words they don’t get out much, especially women. When you work with family members, the only feedback you get is from family and this can be limiting. Working separately enables each partner to learn about the outside world more.

WILL YOU HAVE ENOUGH TIME FOR YOURSELF? As important as it is to reconnect with your loved ones at least once a day, it is also important to have time to yourself. Seldom do I hear entrepreneurial couples complain that they have too much time with their spouses, but they do complain that they have no time to themselves.

My book Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Home and at Work, discusses the many pitfalls that entrepreneurial couples fall into and offers practical advice on how to deal with them. Or visit Couples at Work and Home on my website.

What about Children with an Asperger Parent?

Friday, July 09, 2010


I have written a lot about what it’s like being married to someone with Asperger Syndrome –  the many challenges you face daily. Now imagine what it’s like having a parent with Asperger Syndrome. This scenario is real and affects many children. So this leads us to wonder, what is life like for these children?

It is only realistic to expect that living with an Asperger parent will be a challenge. Many adults who were raised with an Aspie parent are now reporting severe depression and self-esteem problems because they lived with a parent who struggled to nurture them and get to know them. With a lack of warmth, tender affection, and communication, a child can feel emotionally rejected by their parent even though they may have all of their physical needs taken care of.

This is not to say that an Aspie parent does not love their child. That is far from the truth. But the communication and relationship deficits confuse the child and can lead to the child feeling unloved. Remember it is the child’s experience that defines the parenting, not whether the AS parent loves their child.

I am writing a new book entitled,  “Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind." It addresses the unique issues that come up when you’re co-parenting with an Aspie partner. Click here to download a free sample chapter.

If you have a child who has an Aspie parent, I highly recommend seeking professional help from a mental health care specialist. For more information on Asperger Syndrome, visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions on my website.


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