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Kathy Marshack News

People with AS aren’t as influenced by emotional information

Friday, January 09, 2009

Asperger Syndrome is referred to as a high functioning form of Autism. Asperger Syndrome (AS) is demonstrated by deficits in communication, social skills and reciprocity of feelings. People with AS aren't as influenced by emotional information which is both good and bad. It can help in decision making when you don't want to be swayed by emotionality, but it can be a hardship in a relationship when your partner wants you to understand how they feel. Researchers in Professor Ray Dolan's group at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at the University College London have recently spent time studying the types of decision-making skills of those with Autism. I found the results very intriguing. Those with Autism are not as likely to make irrational decisions or be influenced by "a gut feeling". "People with autism tended to be more consistent in their pattern of choices, their greater attention to detail perhaps helping them avoid being swayed by their emotions," says Dr Neil Harrison. He continues, "Less reliance on gut instincts by people with autism may underlie their difficulties in social situations, but also enable them to avoid potentially irrelevant emotional information and make more consistent choices." I am committed to helping those with Asperger Syndrome and their family members cope with the challenges. My new book on this topic will be released soon. For more information on my book, click on the link.

Tips to help achieve harmony in the family business

Thursday, January 08, 2009

When family members work together, it often turns into all work and no play. The personal side of the family/business relationship is taken for granted. How can these things be prevented? Remember that if you work in a family firm, most of your interactions with your family involve work. You need to give at least equal time to the personal side to keep communication, trust, love and respect healthy. Here are some tips to help achieve the perfect balance: 1. Take time away from work every day to talk with your family/business partners about something other than work. You might start the morning with coffee and sharing the crossword puzzle. 2. At least quarterly, arrange a retreat for the family firm that involves playing, such as a trip to the mountains to ski. 3. Discuss all problems no matter how small, whether they are work issues or not. 4. Allow for individual differences. Allow members to speak up in disagreement. Just because you are family and work together, does not mean you are all joined at the hip. So make room for new and different opinions and ways of doing things. 5. Hang in there when there is a problem. Don't give up until you have a solution to the problem that is a winning one for everyone. 6. If things get out of hand, ask for professional help. For more information about family business, please click on the link.

Tackle the New Year with new priorities and a new attitude

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

With the New Year right around the corner, January is a wonderful time to build a foundation for the goals you want to accomplish this year. Many throw themselves into new projects come January 1st, but then find that it is difficult to accomplish them. Here are a few tips to help you gain a better understanding of how to make New Year's Resolutions that actually stick this year. 1. Let the New Year bring self-acceptance. 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. 2. Change your paradigm. Instead of focusing on what's wrong in your life, pay attention to what is right. Accept that you can't change the past, but you can learn from it. Trust that you have the resources within yourself to make the changes you need and want to make. 3. Self-acceptance turns crisis into opportunity. If you recognize that life is a complex and problem-filled arena designed to assist you on your quest toward wisdom and maturity (just as it is for everyone else), then when you have a problem you'll face it squarely with full self-acceptance. You'll dig in, assess, diagnose and search out the meaning. You will use all the strengths at your disposal to create workable solutions. At the end you'll be a little smarter, a little wiser, a little stronger, a little saner. I wish you a Happy New Year!

Conquering holiday worries with faith and hope

Friday, December 26, 2008

The winter holidays and the transition to a new year can take worrying to a whole new level. Somehow this time of year brings a mixed blessing even in the best of times. I am confronted with the contradictions in my life such as how to plan for the holidays amid a worsening economy. I alternately look forward to parties and feel guilty for not doing more to help others. I make my gift list at the same time as I wonder if that money should be spent in a more practical way. I want to create a warm and loving holiday celebration for my family, but I worry about what next year will bring to all of us. You have to be careful at this time of year not to get deeply depressed, especially with the current state of affairs in our country and our world. There is just an awful lot to worry about this season.

Today's crises are no more intense and overwhelming than those humankind has endured for centuries. As a matter of fact do you know what we are celebrating at this time of year? Our year-end holidays celebrate the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Thanksgiving is the holiday started by our Pilgrim forebears because they made it through their first harsh year in New England. Chanukah commemorates a miracle that occurred in the war torn country of the ancient Jews. Christmas celebrates the incredibly humble birth of a poor child who inspired a new world religion.

In other words these holidays are a reminder that even at the worst of times, if you have faith and hope you will not only come through hardship but you will be better for it.

Money challenges for parents of autistic children

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

According to the April 2008 edition of Pediatrics, the annual income of parents with autistic children is 14% less than parents without autistic children. Guillermo Montes, PhD, of the Children's Institute in Rochester, N.Y and his colleagues write, "The average loss of annual income associated with having a child with autism spectrum disorder was $6,200." Researchers speculate that part of the reason may be due to the different choices regarding work a parent might have to make. For example, some communities may not have the services available for autism forcing parents to relocate. As a health care provider in the Pacific Northwest, I am determined to give guidance and direction to parents with autistic children. If you are in need of assistance, please contact my office to set up an appointment. Here are some additional resources in the Portland/Vancouver area:

The Link Between Smoking and ADHD

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A recent study by Nicotine and Tobacco Research showed that people who suffer from ADHD are more likely to smoke and have a harder time quitting than someone without ADHD symptoms. Smoking provides a type of self-medication due to the release of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that is related to attention processes and impulse control.

With this new understanding on smoking cessation and ADHD, physicians will be in a better position to tailor treatments for their patients. For those who desire to be a successful non-smoker, here are two key steps that I recommend to start you off:

First: Change your environment at work and at home so that smoking is not as easy to do.

Second: Recognize that most of your smoking is done to take care of other emotional needs. When you desire a cigarette, ask yourself, "What do I really want instead?" Then take care of the real need.

For more encouragement to stop smoking, click on the link for more information.

How to Be a Happier Person - Watch Less Television

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Is there really a link between happiness and the amount of television you watch? Dr. John Robinson, professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, conducted a recent study to show activities that happy people are involved in. After surveying 45,000 Americans over a period of 35 years, Dr. Robinson concluded, "We looked at 8 to 10 activities that happy people engage in, and for each one, the people who did the activities more — visiting others, going to church, all those things — were more happy. TV was the one activity that showed a negative relationship. Unhappy people did it more, and happy people did it less." While watching TV isn't a bad thing, prolonged viewing can lead to an unhappy lifestyle. I recommend activities such as reading a good book, visiting friends and family, enjoying the great outdoors, and doing things for others. These types of activities promote self-respect and leave you with a feeling of accomplishment. This holiday season try turning off the TV and take time to do things that will make you happy!

Drinking During the Holidays – How to Be Safe

Friday, November 21, 2008

The holidays can be a joyous and happy time, but they can also bring about added stress and pressure. Unfortunately, the holiday season is one of the most dangerous times of the year due to the increase of alcohol consumption causing accidents and even death. To keep this time of year happy and safe, I recommend drinking in moderation. Here are a few key ideas to help keep alcohol in its proper place: 1. You don't have to drink! Many feel pressured to have a drink at a social gathering because it's been offered to them. If you feel like enjoying a non-alcoholic beverage, you are entitled to do so. Giving into peer pressure can lead you down a disastrous path. 2. If you plan to drink, set your limits. Before you arrive at the party, decide how much you will drink and then do it! If you set the rules, you are more likely to stick to them. 3. Keep alcohol in its proper place - an enhancement. Instead of viewing the party as a opportunity to drink, look at it as a wonderful time to socialize and enjoy good conversation. Then if you choose to have a drink, it's just an addition to a lovely evening not the focal point. This time of year is supposed to be fun, festive, and relaxing. Plan ahead of time to avoid becoming a victim to the horrible statistics that we hear about year after year. If you alcohol has been a problem for you in the past, please take a look at this tip for more information.

A Giant Step Forward with New Mental Health Parity

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Last month, the U.S. Congress passed the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act of 2008, also known as mental health parity. This is important news - this law will end insurance discrimination against mental health and substance use disorder coverage for 113 million Americans. Some states, like Washington state where I practice, already have a mental health parity law in effect, however this federal legislation insures parity for every American. When this law takes effect, which for most plans will be January 1, 2010, insurance companies will be required to provide parity benefits coverage in EVERY aspect of plan coverage—both in-network and out-of-network. Psychologists like myself see this as a giant step forward in eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health care. If you would like to learn more about how the legislation works, including the specific aspects of coverage affected, visit

Take Care of Your Brain

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The brain is the most complex and delicate organ in the body. Our feelings, emotions, personality, and behaviors are all housed in our miraculous brain. If slight damage or trauma has occurred, it can greatly impact the rest of your life perhaps even causing or affecting a predetermined condition. Dr. Daniel Amen, psychiatrist and author of many books on the brain, recently commented on the link between mild brain trauma and behavioral, emotional, or cognitive issues. The key is to take precautions to protect your brain. Avoid dangerous sports or activities that can cause brain damage. If you have experienced trauma, be sure to mention this to your psychologist even if you only believe it to be a minor incident. The more information you provide, the better care you will receive. For more information, I recommend reading more about Dr. Amen and his work.

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