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Kathy Marshack News

What People Are Already Saying About My New Book “Out of Mind – Out of Sight"

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Out of Mind Out of Sight Since I first published on the subject of Asperger Syndrome in 2009, there have been many exciting discoveries. This is especially true in the areas of genetics and neuroscience and how they interact with psychology and social learning. I use these discoveries to help make sense of the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of the parents and children described in my new book, Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD): Out of Mind – Out of Sight. Knowledge is power. The more you know about Asperger Syndrome, the better able you are to parent, coparent, co-exist and even thrive within your AS/NT family.

I’ve received numerous comments from people anticipating this book. I ’d like to share a few of them with you. Out of respect, I’ve withheld their names to maintain their privacy.

“I was wondering when the book Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Mind –Out of Sight was going to become available to purchase? I have read the sample chapter, and I need more. It is brilliant, just like the other book Going Over the Edge? - A sanity saver. I am desperate to get my hands on it as soon as it is available.”

“Thank you so much for your books. I ordered Going Over the Edge? today and am eager to get the book on parenting with an AS spouse, Out of Mind – Out of Sight. My husband is a wonderful man, but after we had children his mood deteriorated rapidly. It has been hard on all of us. Since I realized that the reason is AS, my reality has been altered in a way I have had trouble articulating. Your book did it immediately. It gave words to my life, and I am profoundly grateful to feel understood. I have a relief valve, at least for now.”

“What is your update on release timing for the book Out of Mind – Out of Sight about AS parents? I’m looking forward to reading more. It helps me think through and prioritize my issues as I go through custody battle issues – what will be a big deal, and what won’t be.”

“I just learned of your new book about parenting when your partner is on the autism spectrum. Thank you for writing on this subject. My wife and I are on the spectrum as are our children, and we are rare in our ability to work collaboratively. I train parents in how to more effectively collaborate and raise their children on the spectrum. I’m repeatedly asked if there is any books on the very subject you’ve written on, and yours is the first I’ve heard about. I’ll gladly let my clients know about it. Thanks for writing this book, Out of Mind – Out of Sight.”

Out of Mind – Out of Sight is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle edition.


You can download your free chapter of Out of Mind – Out of Sight here to get started reading it today.


In an Asperger Relationship? Learn How to Heal Your Broken Heart

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


All relationships have their ups and downs. When Asperger Syndrome becomes part of the mix, the challenges easily mount. Relationships are built on communication and showing love, affection and empathy, all of which are difficult for the Aspie partner. It’s no wonder that broken dreams and broken hearts crop up in these relationships. While many NT/Aspie marriages can work, many others end in divorce. Either way, the NT partner can become worn out from trying so hard to make it work. In addition, friends and family may not understand what you’re going through and your children may even blame you for the difficulties in the family because all they see is that you’re tired and irritable.

Just about the time you think you have healed your heart from the grief of shattered dreams, something else pops up and whaps you in the head. It can be a holiday, or a piece of dinnerware, or your Aspie-ism that triggers your grief and takes you by surprise. Those feelings don't ever really go away. They surface again and again and wear you out.

On Saturday, October 19, 2013, we’ll be meeting in Portland, Oregon so we can discuss, “Healing Your Broken Heart.” At this Meetup we’ll share strategies for healing ourselves. We’ll explore how it’s possible to carry on by growing emotionally and making new spiritual connections, so you can create a new more beautiful and exuberant life. I encourage as many as possible to attend. If you cannot, visit our private Meetup page and join our online community. We’ll be sharing what we learn there.

For more information about Asperger’s and Marriage - Download a free sample chapter of Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge.

How Can Children Learn to Control their Emotions?

Saturday, September 21, 2013


help children learn to control their emotionsIt saddens me to hear so many news reports of young people who cause tragedies to themselves and other families through acts of violence. Youths with out-of-control emotions are evident in the rising incidents of school violence, bullying and teen suicide just to name a few of the problems facing children today.

Many people are trying diverse ways of helping people learn to control their emotions so as to prevent future tragedies. One way is that thousands of schools across the United States are considering adding Social Emotion Learning (S.E.L.) to their curriculum. The goal of S.E.L. is to “instill a deep psychological intelligence that will help children regulate their emotions.”

We can’t expect children to know how they’re supposed to react to situations inherently. Starting back as far as the 1980’s researchers have been studying whether “emotional intelligence” over “academic intelligence” is a greater indicator of how well a child succeeds in life. Evidence is pointing to the truthfulness that emotions outweigh academics. In fact, Maurice Elias, a psychology professor at Rutgers University and director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab calls emotional learning “the missing piece in American education.”

A recent article in the New York Times, “Can Emotional Intelligence be Taught?” explores some of the pros and cons of this approach. It gives examples of teachers who are implementing Social Emotional Learning into their classes with mixed results.

To properly act on our emotions takes practice because you first have to master 3 steps:

1) feeling your feelings, 2) interpreting your feelings correctly, and 3) act upon the feeling information. Children need guidance in order to master these steps.

The best example your children can have for proper emotional responses is from you, the parents who love them best. But this can become very difficult when your partner has Asperger’s Syndrome and doesn’t know to read emotional indicators for him or herself, let alone be able to teach it to your children. Are you in this situation and would like some insightful help? I’m soon going to be releasing a new book with help for this specific situation, outlining how to make your life more manageable and enjoyable. It’s called Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome. If you’d like a sneak preview, you can download a chapter and start reading now

Read more on my website – Parenting.

Parents – How to Help Your Child Do Well in School This Year

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


help your children do well in schoolAs the new school year begins in Oregon and Washington, many parents happily send their children to school expecting them to receive a good secular education and to learn the social skills needed for life as an adult.

Each classroom is filled with children who have a wide range of abilities and personalities – those who will have minimal problems, those who will be straight A students, those who will struggle, those who are average, and those who get left behind because they require special attention that they’re not receiving.

Where will your child be in this diverse group? We all hope for the best. But if your child is experiencing difficulties, how long will it take for someone to call it to your attention? It is so much better to stay involved and aware of your own child’s situation, because no one knows your child like you do. As an example, your child’s behavior may be interpreted by someone as an uncooperative attitude, but you may see it as struggling to remain connected out of boredom.

When children have trouble fitting into the classroom setting, their academic achievements suffer. The more they fall behind, the harder it is to catch up. So, parents have tough decisions to make. They have to figure out whether it’s normal awkwardness or is it an indicator of a more serious problem? Is it a physical problem, perhaps a child needs glasses or has low blood sugar? Is it an indicator or a psychiatric condition such as Attention Deficit Disorder or Asperger’s Syndrome? Is it an indicator that your child is gifted and needs extra challenges to stay engaged?

Perhaps you’re hesitant to acknowledge and address the issue, thinking your child will simply outgrow this stage. Perhaps you suspect there is a problem, but you’re in denial or are grieving the changes this will bring to your entire family. Perhaps you’re afraid that if you pursue this, your child will be stigmatized or will identify with being “labeled”, that it will become a crutch and excuse for not trying to do better.

A recent news report highlighted the fundamental truth that if you don’t seek a diagnosis, you can’t use the special services available to your child that can begin the process of understanding, accepting, and supporting your child to get the best out of school and life.

If you see that your child is struggling and you don’t know why, don’t put off seeking help. Consult either your child’s pediatrician or a licensed psychologist for help in assessing your child’s situation. As a parent of a child with Asperger’s, I know how valuable early intervention is for their success. Feel free to contact my Portland Oregon/ Vancouver, Washington office and set up an appointment.

A Hard Truth about Asperger Relationships - Empathy is not the same as Caring

Friday, August 30, 2013


unlock the empathy you needHarper Lee wrote a wonderful line for Atticus Finch in the movie, To Kill a Mockingbird. He told his daughter, "If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." That’s a great definition for empathy.

This may be “a simple trick” for some, but it’s not for those with Asperger’s Syndrome. Empathy is usually lacking in a relationship with an Aspie. This lack can cause deep emotional pain to the neurotypical (NT) partner, because empathy is very important for feeling connected and loved.

A troublesome dilemma for many NT partners is the realization that empathy is not the same as caring. Your Aspie may care about you and love you. But if they have Zero Degrees of empathy (as described by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen) it just doesn't feel like love or caring. And that can leave you bereft . . .or depressed.

Just imagine this ironic story showing how an Aspie can care about someone, yet not have empathy. Imagine the wife is deeply depressed one day, so she wraps herself in a blanket, and huddles in the recliner to nap away the day. Her Aspie husband noticed this and asked if she’s Okay. When she says that she’s not doing well, he offers to get her a Pepto Bismol. He cares so he tries to help, but it’s way off the mark of what she really needs.

So, what is a NT partner supposed to do? You understand intellectually that your ASD partner cares, yet is incapable of extending empathy to you. Do you really have to give up your need for empathy, for the kind of connection that means so much? How do you continue to appreciate that they do care, even when you’re not getting what you need? If you’d like to find a group of people who understand what you’re going through and who can support you online, check out Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD.

For those of you who are in a relationship with a person with Asperger’s and live near Portland, Oregon, you can connect with others who can empathize, by joining us for our next Meetup locally. Come prepared to share your stories of empathy v. caring. Let's find ways to cope with this dilemma. It’s on Saturday, September 21, 2013. Click here for more information.

Raising a Child with Asperger’s Syndrome – Challenging but Rewarding

Thursday, July 25, 2013


father and child playingYou think it can only happen in the movies, but sadly that’s not the case.

When I read this recent report about an adult man with Asperger’s Syndrome who was locked inside a basement for two years, abused and neglected – a bucket for a bathroom and food shoved through a hole in the wall – I feel so badly for all involved. Of course, I can’t comment on this particular case since I don’t know the details. But it does heighten the public’s awareness of this issue. If only the person with Asperger’s Syndrome had gotten proper attention when he was young, if only the mother had received the necessary support and education to be able to handle the situation…

Raising any child is hard work and when your child has autism it is all the more challenging. I see so many parents educating themselves and working hard to care for their children and these efforts are making a difference. They deserve to be recognized and commended for their hard work. So I wanted to just take the opportunity to tell parents with children who have Asperger’s Syndrome that we appreciate all of your tireless efforts.

Parents need support and training to keep their own lives and emotions balanced when they care for the special needs of a family member. If you’re feeling like it’s more than you can handle, contact my office and make an appointment in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington.

Many times if your child has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome you realize that you or your spouse has it as well. To read more about these family dynamics check out my soon-to-be-released book, Out of Mind - Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome.

Man with Asperger’s Teaches a Lesson on Contributing to the Community

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


man with Asperger's took picturesMost people would like to rise above their life and work challenges and make a real difference in the world around them. It’s important to all of us that what we do matters, even if we do lead seemingly average lives.

 

Sometimes, it can be something small that matters the most. Take the story of Leon Ricks, an 85-year-old man who recently died in California. He had Asperger’s Syndrome, and even though he had trouble interacting with others socially, he was beloved by his neighbors. Plus he made a real contribution to his community, although it wasn’t recognized until he was gone.


Mr. Ricks spent his life walking the streets of his town, Altadena, taking photographs of everything. When his family was sorting through the boxes of photos, they discovered that his lifetime of photography documented the history of the town. So much so that the president of the Altadena Historical Society said his photo collection was “every historian’s dream.”


What struck me as I read this article was that we all contribute to our communities in one way or another. And if we take time to be grateful for what others do and even what we can do ourselves, it’s another way of contributing to society. Especially when we make a habit of expressing our appreciation, it becomes a really valuable contribution. How nice it would have been for Mr. Ricks if he could have enjoyed the appreciation from his town.


Sometimes, though, our thoughts and emotions get out of balance and we don’t see things or even the people in our lives in such a positive light. Then it’s a good time to seek professional guidance. If you live in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area, and would like to talk about it, contact my office and set up an appointment.

Can Marriage Survive When You Have a Child with Autism?

Friday, July 05, 2013


Happy marriages and happy family

There’s a lot of confusing data and misinformation out there, such as the oft repeated, but unsubstantiated, statistic that 80 percent of parents of autistic children will divorce. Granted, raising an autistic child does add more stress, especially since parents must suddenly become experts in education, health care, early intervention, insurance policies and so much more amidst the storm of emotions connected with learning of your child’s diagnosis. But that in no way means your marriage is doomed. 


To the contrary, researchers have found that, if the marriage has a strong foundation of good communication, flexibility and conflict resolution, then these qualities will draw you closer together as you work to provide your child with the training and attention needed. You can read more about this in the Psychology Today article, “Love in the Time of Autism”.

Parents are encouraged to draw boundaries to preserve the quality of life with each other, with their neuro-typical children, family, friends and careers. You can’t let the guilt and grief of autism consume you. It’s important to discuss a division of labor between you and your life partner so you make decisions together and express appreciation for what each is doing. It’s damaging to spring emotionally charged decisions on a mate who is already stressed out.

Another crucial element to keeping your marriage strong in these circumstances is to reach out for support and not try to go it alone. If there are strains in marriage before the diagnosis of ASD, then these will be magnified. The good news is that even strained marriages can be salvaged by consulting with a mental health professional who specializes in autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. If you’re ready to talk, contact my office and set up an appointment in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington.

Download a free chapter of “Out of Mind - Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome”. It’s my new book that addresses the unique issues that comes from co-parenting with an Aspie partner and how you can detach from the emotional distress.

Asperger Relationships: Coping with Unremitting Grief

Monday, June 10, 2013


When you love someone with Asperger Syndrome, you may hit a point where you grieve. You may be grieving over the relationship or for the loss of a dream. The problem with this grief is it may not be going away. When you continue to live with your Asperger partner, your keep triggering the loss. You feel it over and over again.

But what is going on when years later you are still so depressed, forlorn, and fatigued over the loss of your dream? I have heard some define this as "Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Disorder". I believe the symptoms are very similar to depression, but of a grief that never goes away or unremitting grief.

On June 15, 2013, Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Families of Adults with ASD will be meeting in Portland, Oregon to discuss the topic, "Unremitting Grief." Sharing stories and giving input from only those who have walked in these shoes can help to bind up the broken hearts of others. Come and join us and share what you know about "unremitting grief." This will be the last Meetup until September and it will not be one to miss. Click on the link for membership details.

Download a free sample chapter of Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge.

What Experts Are Saying About the New DSM-5

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


The new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5, is about to be released. There has been mixed response from the medical community about the revisions in the "Bible of mental disorders." One expert, Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, suggests that the DSM is the best out there at the moment, but would like to see some changes.

Dr. Insel believes that disorders should be categorized not only by symptoms, but by also looking at biology, genetics, and neuroscience. Chairman of the DSM revisions and professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. David J. Kupfer commented on this problem. He said, "The problem that we’ve had in dealing with the data that we’ve had over the five to 10 years since we began the revision process of D.S.M.-5 is a failure of our neuroscience and biology to give us the level of diagnostic criteria, a level of sensitivity and specificity that we would be able to introduce into the diagnostic manual."

Insel and other scientists are looking to establish a new way of looking at and diagnosing mental disorders. To learn more about this subject, read the New York Times Article - Psychiatry's Guide is Out of Touch With Science, Experts Say.

Click here to read my blog - How Changes in New DSM-5 Impact Those With Asperger Syndrome.


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