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Kathy Marshack News

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 - Love can prevail.

November 2009 Is National Adoption Month

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This month is National Adoption Month. Since I have adopted two children, I love to see the extra emphasis placed on raising awareness about adoption and foster care. The chosen theme is "Answering the Call - You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent." What a great theme! For more information, visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.

With my personal experience, I have recognized that raising adopted children and growing up adopted is different than it is for other families. There are many similarities, but the exceptions to the rule need to be examined too. It is foolish for adoptive parents to raise their children without education about the effects of adoption on the lives of their children and themselves. So in addition to the regular books and seminars on effective parenting, adoptive families should be reading and talking to adoption professionals about the special needs of their families.

Raising a child is no easy task, but with the right attitude and right education, it is a wonderful and life changing experience. If you would like more information on adoptive families, please contact my office.

Is it Really Going to be a Happy Holiday? Watch my Interview on KGW

Friday, November 20, 2009

Yes, the holidays are literally around the corner. Usually this time of year is full of excitement and anticipation, but with the recent economic downturn the holidays are turning into a time of stress and anxiety. I have found that people are slightly fearful of how they are going to cope with this time of year especially after experiencing a layoff or some other financial hit.

Here are a few things I recommend that will help you avoid stressing out this holiday season:

1. Accept that you may be stressed, but focus on what you can do and not on what you can't. You may have to make adjustments in how you choose the celebrate the holidays, but don't lose sight of the joys that you can still have with the right attitude.

2. Exercise, exercise, exercise. It is a proven stress buster and mood enhancer. Find what type of exercise that you enjoy most and make time for it.

3. Take time to meditate. There is an obvious connection between the mind and body and with the help of meditation, you can reduce stress, headaches and hypertension.

4. Spend time with the ones you love. Don't underestimate the power of love and friendship. A good time with friends and family is sure to enhance your mood.

I was interviewed about this very subject on KGW Portland News Channel 8. You can view the entire segment and see how myself and others have decided to view the upcoming holiday season - Make it a happy holiday. You have the power to do so!

New Research Designed to Assist Young Ones with Autism Cope with Anxiety

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Living life with autism can be extremely frustrating. Experts are finding that anxiety is on the rise for children and teens with autism spectrum disorders, roughly 80% according to recent statistics. A University of South Florida clinic has been researching treatment options for young ones with autism and anxiety. According to their research, the most effective treatment they have found so far is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy addresses the way people think. The techniques are designed to change faulty irrationally thinking into more constructive, solution-oriented thinking. Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy you are confronted with the irrational beliefs and offered a new way of thinking about them.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been used successfully with a variety of human problems from depression to low self-esteem to relationship dysfunction to phobias and anxiety, to writer’s block. However, as with all therapies, it is not the best solution for all people and this type of research is still new and under development. It is encouraging to see the medical community taking a more active interest in looking for ways to help young ones with autism cope with their anxiety.

Visit my website for more information on Psychotherapy Treatment Options including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Recommended Links on Asperger Syndrome

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I have compiled a list of resources that I have found to be helpful and informative in understanding Asperger Syndrome. I believe that the more information you receive the better. Of course, the content of these websites is the sole responsibility of their respective owners, but I hope is that this gives you a place to start your research. Tony Attwood is a leader in the field of research and treatment of Asperger Syndrome. This website is a guide for parents, professionals, people with Asperger Syndrome, and their partners. Support to the family members of adult individuals afflicted with Asperger Syndrome. Maxine Aston is a leader in the field of relationships and Asperger Syndrome. An online resource for spouses and family members of adults diagnosed or suspected to be on the autistic spectrum. Detailed information on Asperger Syndrome includes characteristics of AS, living with Asperger’s, prevalence, and much more. Also includes camp listings and support services for children with AS. A well-rounded look at Asperger Syndrome including characteristics, diagnosis, history, research, clinical and non-clinical perspectives, and treatment options.

Please feel free to contact my office if you would like more information or are interested in setting up an appointment.

Entrepreneurs – Be Prepared for Winter Conditions

Monday, November 09, 2009

The days of winter are upon us. With the busy schedules of entrepreneurial couples, a dangerous weather situation can occur before we even realize it, and we find ourselves not only unprepared in our personal surroundings, but also our work environment. Here are some reminders from FEMA that will provide protection at home and at work:

Basic home and/or office checklist:

· Prepare an alternative heat source.

· Check your roof for leaks, and nearby trees for branches that could fall on the house.

· Protect your pipes by insulating them, and keep those faucets dripping during extreme temperatures.

· Know where the water valves are and how to shut them off.

· Have fire extinguishers available along with the knowledge of how to use them.

· Think ahead to how you can help disabled friends and elderly ones. Include clients who have special needs.

Basic car preparations:

· Check antifreeze levels, battery, brakes, heater and defroster, lights, oil, thermostat, and wipers.

· Make sure that your tires are in good working order.

· Keep at least a half-tank of gas in the car.

· Have a winter emergency kit in the car, which includes: a shovel, scraper and broom, flashlight, battery powered radio, water, snack food, matches, extra warm clothing, first aid kit with a pocket knife, blankets, medications, booster cables, flares, fluorescent distress flag, tow rope, and road salt and sand.

These guidelines not only protect you and your family, but they can assist others. In addition, being prepared means you save time and money. In the end, you can continue your business with less interruption and the ability to be available when perhaps the unprepared competitors are not.

Dating, Love, and Asperger Syndrome

Friday, November 06, 2009

Can people with Asperger Syndrome love? Yes, they can, but the quality in which they love will be different. If you are a parent with an Asperger child, the topics of dating, love, and marriage will come up. Or you may have felt concerned about your child's future relationships. Well, there are things you can do now to help your child grow to be more successful in these areas.

First and foremost, it is important that you are very familiar with Asperger Syndrome and the type of issues your child will face in social situations. By understanding what is happening to them, you will be able to identify opportunities that you can use to teach and train them to interact with others. Encourage social activities and talk to them about how they can connect with people.

For more suggestions, I recommend Dating, Marriage & Autism by Stephen Shore. I appreciate Stephen's expertise both as a professional and as a person with Asperger Syndrome himself. Stephen was kind enough to write the forward to my book about adult Asperger relations, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?.

Take the time for your child now. Yes, there will be struggles in his or her life, but with support and guidance it is possible for them to grow up and love.

Do you want to be an entrepreneur

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I hear people speak of their dreams of becoming an entrepreneur and owning their own successful business. It sounds like an exciting and challenging new adventure. Making this type of decision is very serious.  Before deciding to take the big plunge, there are a few important things to consider to see if the entrepreneurial life will suit you.

1. If you want to be an entrepreneur you must think like an entrepreneur. In other words you must have a vision that is bigger even than your business idea. Your business is a part of your life, just like your marriage and your children. An entrepreneurial venture is a reflection of you, your values, your beliefs, your strengths and your faults. You must live and breathe the business, day and night, week in and week out.

 2. Recognize the commitment. With a hectic schedule, sometimes there is little time for personal relationships or their own health. But if kept in perspective the entrepreneur can find tremendous satisfaction in working at something he or she has created. Watching this creation grow, seeing it benefit his or her family, achieving a long dreamed of goal . . . all of this can be quite thrilling.

3. A supportive spouse is a MUST! The most successful entrepreneurs frequently have glowing praise for their spouses, the people without whom they could never have succeeded. So not only do you have to think like an entrepreneur, but your spouse needs to think like one too, or at least be open to supporting your vision.

4. Entrepreneurship is not for the feint of heart. It is a tremendous responsibility to recognize that every action you take is related to the business and to the people who depend upon that business, such as you, your family, your employees and customers. Decisions must be weighed very carefully and every move must be analyzed  to reduce the risk as much as possible.

If you believe you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, ask yourself if you can do the tedious work of integrating your every move and decision into the template of a business venture. True entrepreneurs don't even realize that they think this way. It is just natural for them to be whole-brained thinkers, with their heads in the future, but their feet firmly planted in the present. Visit my website for more information on the Entrepreneurial Life.

Winter Babies May Experience More Life Challenges

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I was intrigued by a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, New Light on the Plight of Winter Babies. It discussed an interesting new study on the strong similarities in children born in the winter months. Statistically, there are significant findings that babies born during the winter have poorer health, school performance and career prospects. For all the details on this study, I recommend reading the article. Hearing these types of statistics can be jolting, but it is important to remember that there are always exceptions to the statistics. Just because the numbers point to something, they do not always factor in key individual differences. The positive side of this type of information is that it sheds light on potential problems that may not have been as recognizable before. As a parent, it can be challenging to keep up with the ever-changing needs of your children. If you think your child is struggling, for whatever reason, you might benefit from visiting a family therapist. For more information on parenting effectively, visit my website or contact my office for more information.

Help Your Child Cope with Their Asperger Sibling

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I have written a lot about the impact of Asperger Syndrome (AS) on a marriage – particularly from the perspective of the spouse of someone with Asperger's. It's very clear that the spouse will be affected and self-care is vital. (See previous blog - Self Care Vital When You Live With A Partner With Asperger Syndrome.) You may be wondering if the same principle applies when it comes to a child with an Asperger sibling. The answer is YES! It can be especially challenging for a child to deal with their AS sibling. With the AS child’s limited social interactions, lack of emotional reciprocity, and preoccupation with him or herself or a particular task, can make playing with siblings extremely difficult. This could lead the non AS child to feel confused and frustrated . . . even depressed. As always though, there are practical steps that parents can take to help both children. Here are some helpful tips: 1. Spend one-on-one time with your child. The AS child can suck a lot of your time and energy possibly making the other child feel neglected. Make sure you give them special time and attention. This is beneficial for both parent and child. Also, make sure that NT child has a well-rounded group of playmates. It is important that they have balance when it comes to fun and recreation. 2. Educate yourself and your child about Asperger Syndrome. This will help you both understand where the Asperger child is coming from. It will also help the NT child to develop compassion for their AS sibling rather than grow resentful. My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?, was written to assist the spouse of someone with Asperger's, but I also recommend it for parents with Asperger children. I have received positive feedback from parents who have read it and found principles that apply also to dealing with their children. (See previous blog - Unexpected Feedback on My New Book - Going Over the Edge?) Another good resource is The Parenting Aspergers Blog - 3. Counseling from a mental health care professional. There is nothing negative about taking your child to receive extra assistance to help them cope with their sibling. In psychotherapy they can learn specific tools, build self confidence, and also have a safe environment to share their thoughts and feelings. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, feel free to contact my office for more information.

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