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Kathy Marshack News

Update on Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetings

Thursday, March 04, 2010


Asperger Syndrome: Partner and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup Support Group was established in Portland, Oregon back in April 2009 and I am happy to say that it is growing by leaps and bounds. The discussions we have are honest and candid. They have proven to be beneficial no matter what stage of life you are in with your partner or adult Asperger family member.

Our group also consists of extremely talented people with a wealth of information to share. The next Meetup is scheduled for March 20, 2010 at the Old Wives Tales Restaurant in Portland, Oregon at 1 p.m. It is very heartwarming for me to see that members are willing to give of themselves to each other. Even though the Meetup lasts but two hours, many members choose to stay for another hour or two because the friendships are growing. If you are interested in attending, please click here for more information.

Another amazing experience is that members that live in different states, even different continents, join in. Through our message boards members from afar can reach out and be touched. For instance, we have had over 350 posts to the message board on the subject “Patients Not Believed About The Difficulty Of Their Lives” written by Bronwyn Wilson.

Please visit our message boards to read the discussions on a whole host of subjects from increased meltdowns on the weekends, to learning patience and acceptance, to the latest science and genetic research, to fatigue and self-care, and more. Sharing is what it is all about.

A New Review of Going Over the Edge?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Oren Shtayermman, a professor from the Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences at the New York Institute of Technology, recently wrote a book review of Life with a Partner for Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge? His review was published by the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. I was very pleased with the review and wanted to share it.

I was particularly impressed about how supportive it was of NT's living in these types of relationships. For example, Shatyermman writes,  "The author reveals in a sensitive and emotional manner, the encounters and endeavors women (and few men) are faced with while living in a world where spontaneity, empathy and social cues rarely appear."

The book review concludes with this statement, "This is an exceptional book which sheds light on a population often left out of the focus of treatment and in need of further exploration vis-a-vis issues they encounter as well as the possible ways to deal with those."

Please click here to view the book review in its entirety.

New Research About the Hormone Oxytocin and High-Functioning Autism

Thursday, February 25, 2010


A new study performed by the Neuropsychology Group, Institute of Cognitive Science in France suggests that inhaling Oxytocin may be beneficial for people who have high function autism (HF-ASD). Oxytocin is a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and is thought to have an impact on emotions and behavior. Oxytocin is also referred to as "the love hormone."

The study was centered around a virtual ball toss with 13 adults with HF-ASD or Asperger Syndrome between the ages 17-39. The patients were randomly given either the Oxytocin nasal spray or a placebo spray. Those who inhaled Oxytocin improved in their ability to differentiate "good" players versus "bad" players by responding to more social cues. They also saw an improvement in gazing at the other players in the face and eyes.

This study is still in the beginning stages of research. There is much to be discovered in how much Oxytocin should be given and how often. Long-term effects of this hormone are also unknown at this time. For a complete look at this recent study, I recommend reading - Oxytocin Improves Social Interaction in High-Functioning Adults With Autism.

Being an Entrepreneur Can Help You Work Less Not More

Monday, February 22, 2010


Entrepreneurs are usually labeled workaholics. They are known for working long hours, nights and weekends, and are addicted to checking their email on their I-Phone or Blackberry. So you may like the idea of owning your own business but shy away from it because of the image it conjures up. The good news is that it doesn't have to be that way. Being an entrepreneur can actually help you to work less and lead a healthier happier life. A perfect example of this is Brett Schklar.

I recently read an article about Brett - Work Less (It's Good for Business) and thought he is a great example of what an entrepreneur should strive to be. As a vice president of a company, Brett was going full speed ahead with his work, but neglecting his family and his health. A heart attack at young age of 31 caused him to slow down and reevaluate his life. He started his own business which allowed him to have better control over his time and his health. Now he has a flourishing business and is working less and enjoying life more.

Owning your own business can be extremely challenging and some allow it to take control over their lives. The key is to set definite boundaries about what you will and will not do and stick to them. Make sure you set aside personal time for yourself and for your family. One way to do this is to schedule it in your calendar ahead of time. Being a happy and healthy person is not only going to affect your personal life, but also your business. Remember that you are the boss and have control over your life!

For more information on the entrepreneurial life, please visit my tip section or call my office if you need a more personal and in-depth consultation on this subject. 

Controversy Stirring Over Possible Changes to Asperger Syndrome Diagnosis

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Asperger Syndrome (AS) was officially recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for the first time in 1994. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is used by mental health care professionals to identify specific disorders. The DSM-V (fifth edition) has proposed to eliminate Asperger Syndrome as a specific disorder (which it currently is) and categorize it under general Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What is good about the revisions is that the new DSM will view Autism disorders on a spectrum from mild to severe, rather than specific and distinct disorders such as Asperger Syndrome.  AS doesn't go away.  It is just refined as an Autism disorder on the milder end of the continuum.

Many Aspies and their loved ones are worried by this adjustment. Since they do not view themselves as autistic, they feel like it would label them as something different than they are. This revision has the potential to impact their future especially since Asperger's has recently been accepted and understood on a greater level. The rather controversial question is, will changing the diagnosis change the way someone with Asperger's is viewed?

The American Psychiatric Association is open to hear the public opinion of their proposed revisions. This window of opportunity will be open through April 20, 2010. Updates to the 2013 DSM-V will be based off of these comments and field trials. So now’s your chance to do the research on these proposed changes and make your opinions known! I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this matter as well. Please feel free to leave me a comment.

Click here to read the DSM-V proposed revisions. If you would like to participate in giving your comment to the American Psychiatric Association, click here. For more information, CNN Health posted a great article on this topic - Revised psychiatry manual targets autism, substance disorders.

Partners & Family of Adults with Asperger Syndrome - Spread The Word

Friday, February 12, 2010


 
I continue to hear from many who wish that there were more avenues to spread the word about relationships with loved ones who have Asperger’s. I have also felt this way which prompted me to write my book, "Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?I recognize that many are unable to write a book to express their thoughts and feelings on the subject, but there are other ways to share.


There has been an amazing response after establishing the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD support group. The Meetup.com message board has become a place for many around the world, not just in the Portland area, to come and share their thoughts, stories, and essays. One particular article stirred up over 200 views. I would like to continue encouraging you to use this incredible resource to spread the word about ASD relationships.

Slowly but surely this topic is getting more attention. Take a look at a recent book review on "Going Over the Edge?" on About.com - http://learningdisabilities.about.com/od/parentsandfamilyissues/gr/Marshack.htm. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support. As a united front, we can spread the word about living with and loving our family members with Asperger Syndrome.

Help and Healing for Victims of Verbal Abuse

Monday, February 08, 2010


What is emotional abuse? According to the United Stated Department of Justice, emotional abuse is defined as, "Undermining an individual's sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one's abilities, name-calling, or damaging one's relationship with his or her children."

Being a victim of emotional or verbal abuse can cause serious side effects such as depression, post traumatic stress, and anxiety. What can you do if you have been a victim to heal and move forward? What about reformed abusers, how can they move on to a healthier life?

Patricia Evans, author of The Verbally Abusive Relationship, and Mack at MEVAC, founder of Men Ending Verbal Abuse and Control, have teamed up to develop Survivors Empowered. This program is designed to help victims and reformed abusers heal from their past and transform their physical and emotional lives. For more information on this fantastic program, visit www.Survivorsempowered.com.

If you live in the Vancouver, WA or Portland, OR area, and have been a victim of verbal abuse or are a reformed abuser, please feel free to contact my office to set up an appointment for one-on-one therapy. Therapy will give you personal empowerment – heal your body and mind and open up a whole new world of choices.

What’s Behind Recent Trend of Sleep Deprivation

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Waking up feeling refreshed and alert is a rarity for many today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 41 percent of Americans have not had adequate sleep for two weeks in the past month and one third of adults are not getting the right amount of sleep every night. What is behind sleep deprivation these days?

There was a great article on this topic on psychcentral.com -  Sleep-Deprived Nation - which examined a number of factors that can cause or contribute to sleep deprivation. With the recent troubles in the economy, many are working overtime or taking on a second or even third job in order to make ends meet. What gets cut is time to sleep. Then the added stress of working extra can make the time you have to sleep not restful.

Technology can also play a role with sleep problems. Our cell phones have become personal hand held computers that stay by our nightstand, but are constantly blinking from an incoming text message or email. Watching television before bed keeps the mind stimulated and active which makes it hard to shut down at bedtime. Then there’s the time drain of surfing the Internet instead of going to bed! The list could go on and on.

As a psychologist, one of my major concerns about sleep deprivation is the long terms affects it can have on a person. Sleep deprivation can easily escalate into more severe sleep related illnesses as well as psychological disorders like depression and anxiety.

If you find yourself relating to this information, I recommending speaking to a mental health care professional who can help you identify the cause of your sleep deprivation and give you the proper guidance to deal with it. Sleep is a necessity for humans and it is the body’s way of healing. Also visit my this page on my site for a discussion on Overcoming Depression.

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.



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