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Kathy Marshack News

How Autistic Traits Can Benefit the Workplace

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Asperger Syndrome (AS) is known as high functioning autism. Since AS itself shows a range or spectrum of symptom severity, many individuals who might meet criteria for that diagnosis are viewed as "unusual" or "just different." A few of the typical traits of Asperger Syndrome are (1)impaired use of nonverbal behaviors to regulate social interaction, (2) restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, and (3) preoccupation with parts of objects.

Some may view these as negative traits, and granted they do make life more challenging, but someone with Asperger Syndrome can't just shy away from the world because of their disorder. They still have to face the "normal" things in life – like work. The question is, how can someone with Asperger Syndrome turn their autistic traits into something positive in the workplace?

There are many job opportunities that really do suit someone with Asperger Syndrome. The key is to find what the AS individual is passionate about and what their talents are, then look for job opportunities that would support that. For instance, someone with AS is usually socially challenged, but there are many jobs that require solitude. About.com posted an excellent article, Autisitic Traits: A Plus for Many Careers, that mentions different autistic traits and jobs that might work out well for these individuals.

Living life with Asperger Syndrome is full of challenges, but by making the right choices and using the talents that you have available to you, you will continue to get the most out of life. Visit my webpage Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Entrepreneurial Couples - Can Competition At Work Cost You Your Marriage?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


When a couple works together both at home and at work, they can become confused about the roles they should play in both of these worlds. Often the aggressive pull of success and the push of competition eradicate the more subtle pull of love.

Bringing competition home is probably the worst thing you can do for a marriage. Keep competition and achievement needs at work. When you work with your spouse in your own enterprise, keep in mind that you will be crossing the competition barrier daily. It is hard to stay kind and loving with the one you are competing with. We tend to take competition personally.

The following are some ways to diffuse the tension of competition between spouses:

· Set up separate work areas within the business.

· Reward each other often for your individual successes.

· Take breaks from each other often.

· Make a clean break from work at the end of the day.

This latter recommendation is vital. Do not discuss work at all at home if your business requires that both spouses be leaders and you are both highly independent and headstrong (sound like anyone you know?).

The most important thing to remember when you work together is why you chose your spouse in the first place. This is someone you love and trust and want to spend the rest of your life with. These qualities aren’t bad either for the kind of person you want to help you build your dream business.

For a more detailed discussion on this topic, read my article, Can Competition At Work Cost You Your Marriage? If you are an entrepreneurial couple, please sign up for my free monthly Entrepreneurial Couples Newsletter for sound business and relationship tips to show you how to make it work at work and at home.

Sixty Things To Do When You Turn Sixty – It’s About Your Attitude

Monday, January 18, 2010


The idea of entering your sixties is often accompanied with dismay. For some though, turning sixty is welcomed. The difference boils down to your attitude, making the conscious decision to age gracefully.

It’s never too late to start your life over no matter how old you are. Turning sixty can be the perfect age to start over and do what you have always wanted to do with your life. With retirement and grown children, perhaps you’ve been allotted with the gift of time so take advantage of it. Don't take things too seriously, make sure to laugh along the way. Get moving and get involved. Find something you have always wanted to accomplish and do it!

I had the privilege of having one of my essays published in a wonderful book entitled, Sixty Things To Do When You Turn Sixty. Published in September 2006, this book of essays captures the imaginations of those Baby Boomers out there who are rounding the bend into their sixties. It is a positive and enlightening look at what turning sixty can be for those who choose to make something out of it.

I just learned that the Corvallis Public Library has Sixty Things To Do When You Turn Sixty available and it’s checked out regularly. If you are interesting in purchasing your own personal copy, please visit this page.

Chronic Worrying – When Controlling Gets Out of Control

Monday, January 11, 2010


We all worry. Sometimes it’s good to worry because it helps us to problem solve or avoid trouble in the first place. But when does worrying become unhealthy?  It’s a good question because according to leading experts 19 million Americans are “chronic worriers”.

 

Dr. Borkovec who developed the Penn State Worry Questionnaire defines unhealthy worrying by three main components: overthinking, avoidance of negative outcomes and inhibition of emotions. Basically chronic worrying stems from a craving for a sense of control, yet that is something worriers can never really find.

 

Sadly, by trying to be ready for the worst, worriers are actually compromising their body’s ability to react to a real crisis. Too much time worrying undermines the body’s ability to react to stress. Not only that, it also weakens the cardiovascular system and disrupts normal emotional functioning.

 

So what’s a worrier to do? The first step is identifying whether your worry is really productive.  Will worrying help you find a practical solution to your problem? If the answer is no, then you’re damaging your emotional and physical health if you continue fretting.

 

More insight can help you manage your worries and cope with the stresses of everyday life. Follow these links for more advice on coping with stress and anxiety. One more note, cognitive-behavior therapy can be a very effective treatment. If you’re having difficulty getting worries under control talk to a mental health professional and get some help.

Going Over the Edge? is Going Worldwide

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


My book, "Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?" has been gaining more international attention recently. This doesn’t surprise me because when I posted the first chapter on my website three years ago I received emails from readers around the world. I am thrilled to see that my book is more readily available to those outside the US.

For Europeans, Eurospan Bookstore has made Going Over the Edge? available for purchase on their website. The website includes the book forward by Stephen Shore, the introduction, the first three chapters, and the front and back cover.

If you live in India, Flipkart.com has added my book to their inventory. They ship throughout India, but you must pay in rupees.

I have added these links to the Asperger Syndrome Recommended Links on my website for future reference. I will continue to keep you posted on any more exciting updates!

Adjust your attitude about the upcoming New Year

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


The New Year is in just a few days! The arrival of the New Year can bring additional stress to overachievers. Instead of thinking about the negative, think of January as time to recoup and restore your energy and peace of mind. January is also a time to build a foundation for the goals you want to accomplish this year.

Because January brings us the opportunity to make New Year's Resolutions, I think it is about time to start a new tradition, that of appreciating ourselves for who we are. As one bumper sticker proclaims, "God doesn't make junk." Let your New Year's Resolution this year be - "I will accept myself totally and unconditionally and be the best I can be this year."

If you can appreciate who you are, that each and every day you are making a valuable contribution to your community by just doing your everyday thing (not overachieving), then you will have a much more prosperous New Year.

You will notice your talents more and strengthen them. You will notice your flaws more too, but you can build a plan to correct them. If you have been successful accomplishing other people's goals, think how much you can really accomplish if you lead your own life.

This year focus on self acceptance and you will benefit. For suggestions on how to change your paradigm for the year, read my article - Entrepreneurs should tackle the New Year with new priorities.

Autism Numbers Are Skyrocketing

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


According to the latest CDC (Center for Disease Control) report, autism numbers are rising. There has been a 57% increase in autism cases in the last four years and it has been stated that 1% of American 8 year old children are being diagnosed with autism. With these kind of numbers, the CDC is recognizing autism to be a major health issue. Many are hoping that this type of information will spark more national attention and additional funding.

Numbers and figures like these are very important for parents and the medical community. Parents need to be alert to the signs and symptoms of autism. They should not be shy to investigate their concerns. The sooner a parents knows if their child has autism, the sooner proper care can be administered. With statistics on the rise, it is very likely that concerned parents have a reason to be worried and are not just paranoid. It is my hope that doctors will continue to be proactive and investigate on an individual and national level.

Please click here to read more about this new research. If you are interested in speaking to a health care professional about autism or Asperger Syndrome, contact my office for more information or visit Therapy FAQ on my website.

Worthwhile New Year’s Resolution - Change the Cycle of Unhealthy Dieting

Monday, December 21, 2009


For many life seems to be a roller coaster of weight loss and weight gain. Some choose the excessive approach, depriving yourself of the foods you want or your body needs then spiraling headlong into binging. The scenario seems to be diet – lose weight – develop cravings – eat compulsively – gain weight – diet again, and so on. Researchers are now finding that this type of pattern can cause changes in the brain similar to those who are drug addicts. For more information on this interesting study, visit "Dieters Face Similar Problems as Drug Abusers."

To avoid developing an unhealthy approach to food and dieting, I recommend four basic principles:

* Eat only when you’re hungry
* Stop eating when you’re not hungry
* Eat only what you’re hungry for
* Get plenty of exercise

A change in attitude and eating behaviors are required. If you feel like this is something you are struggling with, I recommend setting up an appointment with a mental health care professional who is trained in this area. For more information, visit my tip page - Healthy Weight Control.

Tips for Traveling with an Autistic Family Member

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Tips for Children

When you have an Autistic or Asperger’s child, the idea of traveling can feel like a daunting task. One of the main symptoms of autism is the need for a routine, and traveling can throw routine right out the window. But it is not always possible to stay confined at home. So, is traveling possible or even advisable with an autistic child?

Absolutely! I was inspired by Gina Degiudice-Asch, a mother with a 16 year old autistic son. The New York Times posted a video interview (produced by Miki Meek) with Gina discussing how she overcomes the challenges of traveling with her autistic son Andrew. She shares excellent travel tips that have worked for their family trips – such as planning in advance and adjusting how they travel. What I also found interesting was that traveling has helped Andrew grow and blossom as a young person. He has become more adaptable and now at 16, traveling has become much easier.

Tips for Adults

Traveling with an Autistic or Asperger adult can be just as daunting as traveling with an Autistic child. The need for structure and the usual routines is just as prominent for adults on the Spectrum as for children. How about the AS adult who has to count every bag multiple times and worries himself sick that the bags will get lost in transit? Or the frantic AS adult whose stress mounts with each passenger that boards ahead of him on the plane . . . worrying that there will be no more space in the overhead bin? The last thing you need is a full blown meltdown at the airport with security so tight these days.

One woman discovered this cure. Wherever she goes with her AS husband the couple has decided that they can take no more than one bag . . . and it must be a carry on. Secondly, at the gate, she notifies the airline gate attendant that her spouse has an Autism Spectrum Disorder and that he requires priority seating because of his extreme anxiety. If further explanation is necessary, she explains what an adult meltdown will look like. No problem, they are seated even before the first class passengers, so her husband can find the perfect spot to store his bag.

Planning in advance and making necessary adjustments are critical when traveling with an autistic family member. Take a few extra steps before you leave and you’ll ensure a more relaxing trip for everyone!

Book Review on Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge

Friday, December 11, 2009


When you are in a relationship with someone with Asperger Syndrome, you will experience ups and downs. This is not to say that the Aspie partner is to blame or is at “fault.” However, given that the core characteristics of Asperger Syndrome relate to communication, emotions, perspective taking and sensory issues, the very components upon which relationships are built, it is no wonder that misunderstanding and frustration often crop up in these relationships.

I was recently quoted in an article by Pam Mellskog of Longmont Time Calls Newspaper for an article on adult Asperger relationships. In the article she highlights the relationship of Miles and Eugenia. Miles has Asperger Syndrome. The couple discusses their issues with communication and the added influence of Asperger Syndrome in their relationship.

Mellskog recommends my book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge, as a book specifically designed to address communication issues in adult Asperger relationships. The book is unique in how it addresses the often “touchy” topics of sex, rage, divorce and shame. I share poignant anecdotes from individuals I’ve worked with over the years who have been in NT-Aspie relationships, including myself, giving a glimpse at the “inner workings” of these relationships. I’m glad to see that this important topic is getting more attention. To read the article in its entirety, visit TimesCalls.com - Love can prevail.



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