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Kathy Marshack News

Journey for Asperger Syndrome Adolescents

Friday, April 24, 2009

The opportunity to travel and explore another culture is a once in a lifetime adventure for many young adults, but it is often off limits for Asperger youth.  Thankfully, more and more universities are establishing programs for Asperger teens. I recently learned that USC University Center For Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) professionals have put together an adventure for students with Asperger Syndrome (AS). Thirteen days will be spent throughout England and Scotland with professionals from CHLA as well as graduate students who are experienced with students with AS. If you have AS and are between the ages of 16-20, this might be something to look into. Apparently the goal of this trip is to boost independence and self-sufficiency. With many group activities, it will provide an opportunity to grow in a group environment as well as receive specific mentoring from staff members. There also lies the potential for making life-long friends with those who understand the personal struggles of Asperger Syndrome. Please contact Beverly Daley, Ph.D. at or (323) 361-2490 for more information.

Be Involved in April's National Autism Awareness Month

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Since the 1970's, the Autism Society of America, ASA, has recognized April as the National Autism Awareness Month. With autism on the rise, it's encouraging to see so many people taking the time to educate our society on this subject. Visit ASA's website to see eight ways you can celebrate National Autism Awareness Month. In honor of National Autism Awareness Month, the University of Washington Autism Center will be offering FREE autism screenings at their clinics in Tacoma and Seattle. The UW has been dedicated to researching, educating, and providing intervention services for children with autism. Another giant step forward is the new bill that the Washington State Legislature passed to honor individuals with autism. I recommending reading Resolution 8629 to see how the government is determined to provide more support and research for those with autism and their families. The bottom line is, get involved! The more we know, the more we can help.

Raun Kaufman, a Leader in the Field of Autism, Visits Portland

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I saw that Raun K. Kaufman spoke this week at Oregon Health & Science University. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the lecture, but I am very impressed by the work of Mr. Kaufman. His stop in Portland was part of a nationwide tour entitled, "Autism: Recovery Is Possible - 2 Hours that Will Change Your Child's Life - The Autism Hope Action Plan." Raun Kaufman is an autism specialist and CEO of the Autism Treatment Center of America. When Raun was a child, he was diagnosed with autism and was said to be incurable. With the help and guidance from his parents, Samahria and Barry Neil Kaufman, they developed a one of a kind home program to help Raun. Their work is known as The Son-Rise Program®. Today Raun is a successful and outgoing speaker, author, and teacher. Raun graduated from Brown University and is now using his life to help others who suffer from autism. He is a valuable member of The Sun Rise Program® and is now covering the country with his inspiring lectures. I am sure we will be hearing much more about Raun Kaufman and the strides he is making to share principles that could greatly impact the autism community.

A New Study Sheds Light on Asperger Syndrome and Hormone Levels

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A fascinating study at Bath University sheds some light on a possible reason why children with Asperger Syndrome (AS) have difficulties adjusting to change in their routine. Studies showed a low level of cortisol, a stress hormone, in children with AS. Normally, there is a surge in cortisol in the early morning hours, but that peak doesn’t occur for those with AS. Mark Bronson, a psychologist at Bath University, commented, "Although these are early days, we think this difference in stress hormone levels could be really significant in explaining why children with AS are less able to react and cope with unexpected change." Bath and Bristol Universities plan to continue researching why children with AS find more situations stressful than other children. This will help parents and teachers comprehend what is happening and enable them to avoid adding unnecessary stress to the child. For more information on this study, I recommend reading  an article on Psych Central entitled “New Theories of Autism, Asperger Syndrome”. Also visit my Frequently Asked Questions for more information on Asperger Syndrome.

Recommended Books on Asperger Syndrome

Friday, April 03, 2009

With autism on the rise, more and more information is being written for those with autism – including Asperger Syndrome – and their loved ones. I have been doing a lot of reading on autism and have come across some excellent books on the subject.

Here are a few that I highly recommend picking up:

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's
- John Elder Robison Intense, funny, inspiring autobiography of a young man coming of age with Asperger's Syndrome. You can't possibly understand what goes on in the mind of someone with Asperger's Syndrome, if you are neuro-typical. The normal rules do not apply. But Robison describes the inner workings of his mind in a way that shows the incredible structure of an "Aspergian" mind. This is an excellent book for anyone trying to love and understand a loved one with Asperger's Syndrome.

Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism
- Dawn Prince-Hughes A most beautiful and painful look at the struggle the author has lived with as she comes to terms with her Asperger's Syndrome. What is so important about this book is that it is a woman's story. So much is written by parents about raising a child with Asperger's Syndrome. More recently we have learned some about grown men with this developmental disorder. Time Magazine even referred to them as Geeks. But what about women with this disorder? Dawn Prince-Hughes paints a most inspiring story of her rebirth from a disturbed girl and teen into a woman who is a leader in her field, a supportive partner and a loving mother.

Pretending to Be Normal: Living With Asperger's Syndrome
- Liane Holliday Willey I love this title! Pretending to be normal is the exact description of the lives of many with Asperger's Syndrome. Pretending to be normal and never really being true to themselves. This book offers a better way to live one's life. Not just for those suffering from Asperger's Syndrome, this book helps their loved ones better understand the complexities of their Asperger's loved ones.

Click here to learn about my new book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome:  GOING OVER THE EDGE?

Autism Asperger Publishing Company (AAPC) founder speaks at Cal U Autism Conference

Friday, April 03, 2009

Brenda Myles, founder of Autism Asperger Publishing Company and award winning author on autism, recently spoke at California University's 2nd Annual P.E.P Rally and Autism Conference. She spoke to an audience of parents, educators, and providers who are dealing with autism. The conference focused on teaching young ones with autism how to overcome the challenges of interpreting communication and understanding others. Myles spoke about the how autism hinders the ability to read non-verbal language and how those with autism think on a literal level. She also discussed the fact that children with autism need help with the "hidden curriculum" or unwritten rules of society that don’t come naturally. I appreciated Myles realistic encouragement to this community. She said, "Teaching children with autism spectrum disorders about all of the unwritten rules of society seems an overwhelming task. I like to use the one-a-day method. If education professionals would teach one thing a day to a child with autism, they would cover 180 items a year. Other students will also benefit from the reminders. If parents of children with autism spectrum disorders would teach one thing each day, they would cover 365 items each year. Remember to grab the teachable moments because there are excellent ways to make sure they understand the hidden curriculum. These kids see the world so differently. Academic standards are only one piece of the puzzle. We can't predict where anyone is going to be but we need to teach them ways to be successful in life. The potential is there." I am pleased that Autism Asperger Publishing Company (AAPC) is publishing my new book Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome:  GOING OVER THE EDGE?. AAPC provides a variety of books, research, and conferences. Their mission to provide practical solutions to all things related to autism based off the latest research available.

Is love possible for those with Asperger Syndrome?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Love is a natural desire for all human beings. This statement also rings true for those with Asperger Syndrome. They may struggle with showing and understanding emotions and even more so with showing love, but this does not mean that they don't long for it and desire it. Is it possible for someone with Asperger Syndrome to have a loving relationship? Dr. Tony Attwood, an authority on Asperger's Syndrome, recently wrote a fascinating article, OPPOSING VIEWS:  The Romantic Lives of Young Adults with Asperger's Syndrome, which gives a very insightful look at AS relationships. Tony recommends that a child with Asperger's Syndrome be given proper guidance to develop relationship skills throughout the course of their life. Starting at a young age, the child’s parents need to focus on the necessity of developing healthy friendships which will also promote stronger self-esteem. Once they have reached adolescence, there’s an ongoing need to teach an accurate portrayal of attraction, dating, and sexuality. I also appreciated Tony’s thoughts on having a trusted friend or family member meet possible dates. They can give insight and perspective on whether that person will be a good choice before the dating process begins. Unfortunately, most adults with AS were not diagnosed as children since AS has only recently been widely recognized as a diagnosis. Many adults with AS have lived in ignorance and suffered the consequences. Yes, those with Asperger's Syndrome can love, but the quality of the relationship will be different. My new book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome:  GOING OVER THE EDGE?, highlights a realistic view of loving those with Asperger's Syndrome. At times these relationships can be full of heartache, but my passion is to teach ones how to do it better! I encourage you to continue to learn and educate yourself about AS. For more information, read my Frequently Asked Questions.

Siblings of Autistic Children Are Being Affected

Sunday, March 22, 2009

When a child is diagnosed with autism, most people automatically think of how the parents will be affected. But what about the siblings of children of autism? How severely are they impacted? Studies are now showing that these children will be affected in one way or another. One of the more obvious problems is that it will be more difficult for them to form a normal and healthy bond with their autistic sibling. It may also increase a tendency towards behavioral problems, depression and speech disabilities. Researchers recommend that siblings of autistic children can benefit from speech and language therapy. Obviously, every child is different and their reaction to a sibling with autism will be varied. The point is that it is important to be aware of the possibilities and to take the necessary steps to ensure that each and every child, regardless of disabilities, has the proper care and guidance they need. More research on this subject is available in the article OPINION: How Do Siblings Affect Autistic Kids? by Teresa J. Foden from the Interactive Autism Network. My new book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: GOING OVER THE EDGE, discusses the fact that a relationship with a loved one with Asperger Syndrome is difficult. I use stories to share some of the struggles I’ve personally observed in families between siblings, mates, parents and children. My hope is to help teach these loved ones how to have successful relationships and to take control of their lives. If you are interested in ordering your own copy of the book, please sign-up for my newsletter so I can contact as soon as the book becomes available. Continue to read my blog for more updates!

What Happens When Children with Asperger Syndrome Grow Up?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Asperger Syndrome is a form of autism that has captured the attention of the media lately because of the
unexplainable increase in diagnoses among school-age children. For example, Steve Silberman wrote a piece for Wired magazine in December 2001 entitled “The Geek Syndrome” where he speculated on the phenomenal increase of children with Asperger Syndrome living in Silicon Valley with their “geeky” parents. A few months later Time magazine ran an article in its May 6, 2002, issue by J. Madeleine Nash entitled “The Secrets of Autism.” Nash asked, “The number of children diagnosed with autism and Asperger’s in the United States is exploding. Why?”

Over the next few years every major newspaper and magazine in the United States published on the subject, and television and radio have run specials. However, the overwhelming emphasis has been on children and schooling. In fact, so little is written on the subject of adults and adult relationships that Suzanne Leigh of USA Today interviewed me for an article entitled, “A long shadow is lifted on Asperger’s in adults” published July 23, 2007 long before the publication of my book, “Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: GOING OVER THE EDGE?” because she could find few experts on the subject who have published in the United States.

Clearly, the interest is growing, but the answers are scarce. So the questions remain. What happens when children with Asperger Syndrome grow up? Click here to learn more.

A New Movie Puts Asperger Syndrome in a Positive Light… But sometimes life doesn’t have a Hollywood ending

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Fox Searchlight has recently acquired the rights to a new film, ADAM, that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January. This is big news since it’s not the typical love story you’d find on the Hollywood scene. The story highlights the relationship between two young, single New Yorkers who live in the same apartment building. Adam is an electrical engineer and Beth is an elementary school teacher and aspiring writer. What makes this story so unique is that Adam suffers from Asperger Syndrome. Although I haven’t seen it yet, it appears that ADAM is a heartwarming story of a young man struggling to live a normal life with AS. Apparently the movie producers worked hard to portray AS accurately and they never put the developmental disorder in a negative or disrespectful light. Jonathan Kaufman, founder of Disabilityworks, Inc. worked with the director of ADAM, to help maintain a realistic feel to the movie. Kaufman stated, “In a world where the number of kids diagnosed with autism is 1 in 150, this type of film will provide real insight into the life of someone with high functioning autism,” and he hopes, “provide real hope for millions of families.” I agree that this is an important subject for a movie. However, I would hate to see it provide false hope for people who want their life to mirror this happy ending. Having an intimate relationship with someone with Asperger Syndrome is challenging and often times heart breaking. Movies are great for entertainment, but for real hope you need to look inside yourself. That’s what my new book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge?, will encourage people to do.

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