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Kathy Marshack News

Lack of Empathy - How To Love Your Asperger Partner

Thursday, May 09, 2013


When you love and care for an adult with Asperger Syndrome, you need a safe place to share your story about the frustrating and isolating life that you experience. Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD has proved to be a valuable resource and a safe environment to share intimate and delicate scenarios that only those who live that life can understand.


On May 18, 2013, we will be meeting to discuss the topic, "How to love an abusive person." There is a reason why Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen published a book entitled, "The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty." While he believes that Aspies have good intentions, he attributes their socially clueless behavior to lack of empathy. When on the receiving end of this lack of empathy, many neuro-typicals (non Asperger's) view these behaviors as unloving and even abusive. The question becomes, if the intention is not to cause harm, is it still abuse? Furthermore, how do you hold love in your heart for a person who consistently breaks your heart?


Please join us for an in depth look at this subject. If you will not be able to attend in person, please become a member of our online community. I look forward to hearing your stories.


My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge is available for purchase. Click here to download a free sample chapter. 

 


5 Mothers and Their Fight Against Autism

Friday, April 12, 2013


With autism statistics rising, a group of five courageous mothers are taking note of the disorder and how it is affecting African American and Hispanic children in the United States. Colored My Mind is a non-profit organization whose mission "is to educate, enlighten, and empower parents whose children are on the ASD spectrum throughout communities nationwide." 


The founders of Colored My Mind are working hard to see that minorities are receiving practical assistance when it comes to treatment and diagnoses for ASD children. Many in the African American and Hispanic community struggle getting health care and special education for their AS child and sadly some have dealt with negative racial bias. The goal is to educate all people regardless of race and nationality. Their story will appears in a documentary entitled, Colored My Mind, and will show at The Cannes Film Festival in May 2013. 


To learn more about this organization and the work they are doing to bring much need awareness about autism, visit Colored My Mind


New Research on Genetics and Mental Disorders

Thursday, April 04, 2013


What does autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and ADHD have in common? Genetics! New research says that these disorders share multiple "genetics glitches" that can move the brain toward mental illness. For a disease to actually develop would depend on additional environmental and genetic factors. Keep in mind that this involves hundreds of genes and variations. (Read the article for the latest research - 5 Disorders Share Genetic Risk Factors, Study Finds)


I found this research astounding! The wealth of research that is pouring in has the power to transform how we think and feel about these disorders and how they affect the people we love. On April 20, 2013, the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD will be meeting to discuss "Using Research as Therapy." Knowledge is power. Ignorance is oppressive. Let's use the wealth of data that is coming out of ivory tower labs and use it to heal our hearts and minds. 


If you are not able to make it in person, please join us as an online member

Virtual Reality – Can It Make You More Empathetic?

Sunday, March 17, 2013


I'm sure we would all agree that we would like the world we live in to be more empathetic. Empathy, compassion, and fellow feeling are not as common as they used to be. What can make the world more empathetic and altruistic? A possible solution may lie in the world of virtual reality. 


Stanford University experimented with this theory. They created a virtual reality and gave the participants a mission – deliver insulin to a diabetic child in the city. One group was given super powers like Superman and were able to fly through the city. The other group were passengers in a helicopter. Afterward each participants was interviewed. The interview was a test to gauge empathy. During the interview, the interviewer "accidentally" dropped a cup of 15 pens. The idea behind this is to see how the participant responds. Who would act to assist picking up the pens? The group who pretended to be Superman responded quicker and picked up more pens than the group who rode in the helicopter. In fact a few who rode in the helicopter didn't even respond and did not pick up any pens. 


What does all of this mean? According Jeremy Bailenson, one of the experimenters and Associate Professor of Communication summed it up nicely. He said, "It's very clear that if you design games that are violent, peoples' aggressive behavior increases. If we can identify the mechanism that encourages empathy, then perhaps we can design technology and video games that people will enjoy and that will successfully promote altruistic behavior in the real world." To read more about this study, read the article - Stanford experiment shows that virtual superpowers encourage real-world empathy  


I know many parents are concerned that video games make their children more aggressive. It would be fantastic to see games that actually promoted healthy social interaction. Please visit the Parenting section of my website for more tips. 




Asperger Love - Is It Really Love?

Thursday, March 14, 2013


If you are in a relationship with someone with Asperger Syndrome, I have no doubt that at some point you asked yourself, "Is this really love?" The reason why you may ask yourself this is because how do you know if you are loved if you partner never communicates that with you, or shows your, or has empathy? This leads to other perplexing questions like: How do you know if your love is received or understood by them? Can you be sure that your AS partner feels love the same way you do? Does it even matter? 


How can a relationship survive when the issue of love is questioned? This is such a delicate and sensitive subject that many will think about it, but will never discuss it. On March 16, 2013, Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Support Group will meet to discuss this issue. There is no easy answer or quick fix, but hopefully by having open and honest discussion can lead to a level of understanding that only those in this situation can understand. The meeting will be held in Portland, Oregon. If you do not live in the Portland area, please visit our webpage and become a member. The message boards are already discussing this topic online. We would love to hear your thoughts. 


For more on navigating through an Asperger relationship, pick up your own personal copy of my book - Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge

Autism and Context Blindness

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Have you heard the term "context blindness?" Context blindness is something that happens with Asperger Syndrome. For most people, context is a part of life. Everything is relative and depends on the context. For someone with Asperger's, life is absolute – especially in regard to social interaction. Context blindness hinders an individual from being sensitive and aware of the feelings of others.


Dr. Peter Vermeulen discusses context blindness is his new book, Autism as Context Blindness. He brilliantly describes how the autistic brain works and includes practical exercises to help improve in the area of context blindness. I highly recommend picking up your own personal copy. Click here to learn more aboutAutism as Context Blindness.


Context blindness will also be discussed at the AAPC Spring 2013 Autism Conference. There are three locations: Chicago, Salt Lake City, and Phoenix. Click here to learn more about how to attend. 

Where to Find Empathy in an Asperger Relationship

Monday, February 04, 2013


As promised, empathy in Asperger relationships is up for discussion again. On February 16, 2013, Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Support Group will be meeting to discuss - "Empathy Explains It All." I find myself talking about this topic again and again because it explains much about the mismatch in communication between someone with Asperger Syndrome and their Neuro-Typical partner.


 Why is empathy so important in relationships? Empathy is the ability to connect and know where the other is coming from at the same time that you know where you are coming from as well.  You don't have to agree with the other person to have empathy. You don't have to even be terribly interested in their interests. When you listen and are listened to...with empathy...a powerful connection occurs. It is the interpersonal world of connectedness that makes us feel loved and satisfied or even just okay. Empathy is so powerful that even research shows that a doctor who treats his patients with empathy will have better results.   


Empathy is usually lacking in an Asperger relationship. This can cause deep emotional pain for their NT partner. I chose this topic for the upcoming Meetup so we can listen to one another and empathize. Maybe empathy is lacking in the marriage, but you can find empathy amongst others who are dealing with a similar problem. Please join us for this important discussion whether it be in person or online.    


Visit Asperger Syndrome Support for more information. My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? is available for purchase. It is a practical guide for a Neuro-Typical individual in an Asperger relationship. 

 


New Study Investigates Autism Recovery

Thursday, January 24, 2013


The world of autism, diagnosis and recovery are constantly changing, shifting and evolving. New studies and research are changing the face of what we know autism to be. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published a study entitled "Optimal outcome in individuals with a history of autism" that shows the beginning of a real shift in view of autism.    


The study showed that in rare cases, a minority of individuals will lose the diagnosis due to recovery from symptoms. The reasons for such a recovery is unknown. It could be biological or behavioral patterns. At this point that is not known. Researchers are not quick to claim a cure all. They are stressing that this is rare, but significant enough to report. So, beware of false hope. 


What we do know if this – early diagnosis and behavioral therapy are critical when it comes to autism. Regardless of full recovery, those are constants in assisting individuals with autism. (To read more about this study, read - Some with Autism Diagnosis Can Recover Symptoms, Study Shows.)

Asperger’s Parents Respond to Changes in the DSM-5

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


Changes to the DSM-5 manual and the criteria for autism diagnosis is a hot topic. In the manual, Asperger Syndrome will be no more. Anyone with Asperger Syndrome will be diagnosed as ASD-Level 1. There has been a wide range of responses to these changes. Today.com posted an article, Farewell to Aspies: Some families reluctant to let go of Asperger's diagnosis, that discusses the responses to this major change. 

 

Timothy Bumpus and his mother, Catzell feel strongly that Asperger Syndrome should have its own category. Timothy commented, "Some of the most brilliant people had Asperger Syndrome, and you just can’t put that under the title of Autism." His mother agrees by stating, "His mind works in a very different way, but we focus on the positive. I don’t call it disabled. I call it differently-abled. There are so many articles I’ve read where people say it’s not a disability at all, that it’s a giftedness. It’s just a whole other level of giftedness. I think [in the DSM-5], Asperger’s should be in its own unique category."

 

Others feel differently. Deborah Knutesen, mother of a 7 year old boy with autism, has another opinion. She says, "I think if there’s a definition of Asperger's and you fall into that, then you’re part of the party. If a different name makes you feel better, okay, but you’re still part of it. And you should be an advocate for it. Our society always has to have a class system. It makes me laugh. [Asperger’s parents] consider themselves the upper class of autism."

 

Time will tell what the long-term effects will be. Experts are optimistic because they believe it will enable everyone on the spectrum to get the care that they need. Download a free chapter of my upcoming book on “Out of Mind - Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome.” 

Joseph Sheppard – An Autistic Hero

Monday, January 07, 2013


A few months ago, I blogged about Joseph Sheppard. Joseph was particularly inspiring. He was diagnosed with a high functioning form of autism in his forties. Instead of viewing this as a crutch, he looked at his diagnosis as liberating, referring to it as his "inner splendor." I came across another article on CNN.com about Joseph with an update on what he has been doing in behalf of others with autism. (Read With autism, no longer invisible   


Sheppard is the co-director of Centre for Autism Research, Technology and Education (CARTe), along with Jim Tanaka, psychology professor at the University of Victoria. CARTe is involved in research and development of technology to improve social and emotional skills for children and adults with ASD. They are currently testing games for children to assist with facial recognition and interpretation. Tanaka refers to Joseph as "the visionary of our center."   


Joseph is also working on a publication called "Autism's Own Journal." This is set to be published in April 2013 and will include fictional and non-fictional stories about autism written by those with autism. This is probably just the beginning of the inspired work that Joseph Sheppard will do in his lifetime. The reason I believe him to be a hero is the fact that he wants to bring out the best in an autistic individual without looking to change them. What a powerful message!   


For more information about Asperger Syndrome - Visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions.  



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