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Kathy Marshack News

Is Stress on the Rise for Parents with Autistic Children?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Raising children today is extremely challenging, but how does it compare to raising a child with autism? The New York Times recently interviewed, Annette Estes, about this very subject. Annette Estes is the assistant director of the University of Washington Autism Center. Their recent study focused in on the stress levels of mothers with autistic children verses mothers with children who have developmental disabilities. Of course, both groups of mothers are dealing with very stressful situations and that can't be underestimated. The study did show that mothers with autistic children showed higher stress levels and psychological distress than the other group. As a psychologist and as a parent, I recognize the incredible amounts of stress that are on these parents. Finding solutions for managing this kind of stress is a continual process, but there are useful tools available. If you are a parent with an autistic child, visit my website for more information about managing stress. I also recommend my new book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Sydrome: Going Over the Edge? Even though I didn't specifically write it with these parents in mind, there are many basic principles that still apply. If you have found any useful tools to help deal with stress as a parent with an ASD child, I would love to hear what you have learned.

Update from the Autism Society of America Conference in Chicago

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


My recent trip to Chicago to attend the Autism Society of America Conference was incredibly rewarding. It appears that the medical community has finally started listening to parents and other family members as we describe what is really going on in our homes, living with loved ones with Autism. As a result the research is demonstrating that there is a genetic, biological, immunological and environmental interaction that produces Autism Spectrum Disorders. I was happy to hear that there is interest in doing research about living the stress of this life, but it is still in its infancy stages. My publisher, AAPC, has expressed an interest in having me write another book. I truly feel that this is the time for us to be heard and do what we can to get as much information out there as possible. There was some good news and some bad news that was shared with us at the conference. The bad news is that CDC will soon be announcing that the incidence of ASDs has increased to one child in 100 in 2009. That is a 1200% increase over 20 years. The good news is that there are very good treatments and even evidence of recovery in some individuals. In fact a new website was unveiled at the conference; www.autismsolutions.org. It is not yet operational but will soon be. The website will house data and resources from all directions, including a database of parents who would like to submit information on their own families. It's free to access and all confidential. Amazing! I still have much to share, so please continue to read my blog for more updates. If you live in the Portland/Vancouver area and are living with a family member that has Asperger Syndrome, I invite you to join our next Meetup on August 1st at the Old Wives Tale. We will be discussing the conference in full detail.

Speaking about Asperger Syndrome for AAPC

Friday, July 24, 2009


My book publisher AAPC, Autism Asperger Publishing Company, has set in motion a new program entitled Professional Development. This program was created with the intent to connect school districts with qualified professionals who present information on all things related to autism. I was recently asked to be a speaker and presenter for AAPC. In my presentations, I will be focusing on the topics Transition to Adulthood and Family/Home. I am looking forward to being part of this new program. Through these speaking engagements, I hope to share the knowledge I have learned about the challenges of loving and caring for someone with Asperger's. For more information, visit my profile for AAPC Professional Development. Other organizations interested in a presentation related to Asperger Syndrome can contact me directly.

New Study Links 27 Genes to Asperger Syndrome, Autism, and Empathy

Monday, July 20, 2009


Scientists from the Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge have identified 27 genes that are associated with either Asperger Syndrome, autistic traits, and/or empathy. The research is published July 16, 2009 issue of the Journal Autism Research. Asperger Syndrome (AS) is considered a subgroup on the autistic spectrum. Autism Spectrum Conditions occur in about 1% of the population. They are diagnosed on the basis of difficulties in social relationships, communication, and adjusting to change, alongside unusually narrow interests. The team looked at these genes in 349 adults in the general population, all of whom had filled in the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) as a measure of autistic traits, and the Empathy Quotient (EQ) as a measure of empathy. Then, they looked at 174 adults with a formal diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome only and compared them to controls. The resulting research found that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 27 out of the 68 genes were nominally associated with either AS and/or with autistic traits/empathy. According to the researchers, 5 of the genes found have been previously reported in autism, but the other 22 have never before been reported in association with AS, autistic traits or empathy. Click here to learn more about this fascinating research.

Autism SuperConference July 23-24, 2009 in Portland, Oregon

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Future Horizons, an autism publishing company, has put together a series of two day nationwide SuperConferences on autism and Asperger Syndrome. I was excited to see that Tony Attwood, Temple Grandin, and Maria Wheeler will be leading the discussion on a variety of topics at the Portland, Oregon SuperConference. EVENT DETAILS: Date: July 23-24, 2009 Conference Location: Crowne Plaza Portland Downtown Convention Center Registration Number: 1.800.489.0727 Website: http://www.fhautism.com/Conferences/OregonSuperConference/tabid/166/Default.aspx During this event, I will be in St. Charles, Illinois attending the Autism Society of America's National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders. However, if you live in the Portland/Vancouver area, I recommend registering if you're interested in learning more about autism and Asperger Syndrome. I would also love to hear your thoughts about the information presented.

A Healthy Brain Equals Healthy Relationships

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


A strong marriage or relationship requires constant and loving attention, which can be hard work under the best circumstances. Lately I’ve focused on the impact of Asperger Syndrome on relationships. But the truth is there are many things such as ADD, anxiety, depression, obsessive tendencies, brain trauma, toxic exposure, and early Alzheimer’s disease  that can seriously sabotage your relationships. I greatly respect the work of Dr. Daniel Amen, who I have spoken of in past blogs. In his recent "Brain in the News" newsletter, he spoke of how brain function has an incredible affect on our relationships. When the brain is functioning properly, things are good, but when it is not, you exhibit traits that could have a negative impact on your relationships.  For example, Dr. Amen mentioned that if you have low activity in the front part of your brain, you will often speak before you think. This type of speech can be hurtful and harmful to your relationship. If this type of behavior sounds familiar, you may need marital counseling and more. You may also need to examine your mental health as individuals. If you are interested in other tips for maintaining a relationship, visit Marriage Counseling - Maintaining a Strong Marriage.

Help in Career Planning for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Finding a job in today's economy is hard enough, but it is even harder if you have Autism Spectrum Disorders, including Asperger Syndrome. For example, you may feel uncomfortable filling out a job application. Or you may feel confused because it's important for you to answer everything as honestly as possible, but you end up frustrated that you can’t fully explain your situation. Or you don't work well with people, but the only entry level jobs are in customer service. With the majority of Aspie's unemployed or underemployed, help is finally available! I recently heard of a new conference put together by Spectrum Training Systems. The conference is entitled, Career Planning for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This two day conference held October 21-22, 2009 in Seattle, WA is designed to help students, parents, caregivers, and young adults with ASD to become successful career-oriented individuals. It is also available for career coaches, therapists, special education administrators, and teachers so that they can better assist those with ASD in this important area. Some of the specific topics that will be discussed are Career Planning, Workplace Support, and Social Communication in the Workplace. This type of training is sorely needed. More information is available at www.SpectrumTrainingSystemsInc.com/Conferences.html.

Hollywood's Interest in Asperger Syndrome

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


In an earlier blog, I wrote about a new movie, ADAM, a love story with a twist. Adam, the main character has Asperger Syndrome. ADAM premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and took home the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan award. Searchlight Films has picked up the film and will have a limited release on July 29, 2009. Since more and more adults are being diagnosed with Asperger's, I'm happy to see that Hollywood has taken an interest in AS. I remember a few years back when I went to see the film, The Aviator, I immediately recognized that Howard Hughes displayed characteristics of Asperger Syndrome. He exhibited all the classic symptoms of Asperger's. He was clearly obsessive, extremely attentive to the smallest details, unable to connect with the women he loved, and suffered from intense paranoia. I look forward to seeing the portrayal of Asperger Syndrome in the movie ADAM and will share my "review" - from the perspective of a therapist that works with Asperger Syndrome relationships - in an upcoming blog.

Tips for the “Survivor” Entrepreneur

Friday, June 19, 2009


Are you an entrepreneur? Are you impatient with details? Do others work too slowly?  Are you hypercritical? Do you make things happen? Do others admire you? Can you usually handle twice the work of others?  Are you tenacious? Are your successes due to your own hard work?  Do you thrive on adversity? If you recognize yourself in this short quiz, then you are probably a survivor entrepreneur, someone who overcame great obstacles to accomplish their dreams in life. Because your survival depended upon quick action and attending to what was immediately necessary to accomplish your dream, this type of entrepreneur has honed efficiency to a fine science. Your gaze is constantly on the horizon, looking for the next opportunity or the next problem to solve. However, when you err, you are exceptionally hard on yourself. Here are a few tips every survivor entrepreneur should learn to cultivate: 1. Learn to accept failure graciously; you'll have more friends and supporters that way. Others may have experienced more failure than you have and they need to know that you understand and are human too. Don't stop being right, but be more patient with your errors and those of others. 2. Remember you are the one with the vision. It is your gift and one that should be used generously and wisely. Others have different gifts to contribute that are just as valuable, but without visionary ability, they really can't so easily understand what you grasp in an instant. So take the time to walk them through what you know. 3. Don’t make a life of surviving. Some survivor entrepreneurs keep creating crises in their lives, often unconsciously, so that they can get the thrill of mastering the crisis. The entrepreneur may be able to handle this excitement but your family and friends may tire quickly of the emotional roller coaster. Save the surviving for real adversity and take the time to stop and smell the roses with the ones you love. There are deep and profound rewards in the tiny things that occupy ordinary life too, if you will explore that territory. Read my article to learn more about “survivor” entrepreneurs.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements Reduce ADD Symptoms

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


For decades, medications have been used to treat the symptoms of attention deficit disorders. For many people, these medicines dramatically reduce their hyperactivity and improve their ability to focus, work, and learn. But many people are hesitant about taking medication. Is there anything else available to reduce symptoms of ADD? Dr. Daniel Amen, a child psychiatrist, has been using Omega-3 fatty acid supplements for years to treat patients with ADD. In one of his recent newsletters, Dr. Amen highlighted a study from Canadian researchers studying the effects of Omega-3’s on ADD. Their results showed that children taking Omega-3 supplements have better behavior and a greater attention span. This study has been published in the February 2009 journal, Paediatric Child Health. Omega-3 fatty acids are not only beneficial for ADD, but also for depression, joint pain, and great for the brain. In addition to medication or supplements, I highly recommend behavioral therapy, emotional counseling, and practical support. In individual counseling, a therapist can help the child or adult with ADD learn to feel better about themselves. They do this by helping them recognize that having a disability does not reflect who they are as a person. Over time the therapist can help people with ADD identify and build on their strengths, cope with daily problems, and learn to control their attention and aggression. For more information on coping with ADD/ADHD, please visit my website.


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