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Kathy Marshack News

Tips on Landing a Job When You Have Asperger Syndrome

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Do you or someone you know have Asperger Syndrome? Are they looking for a job? Since Asperger Syndrome impairs nonverbal social interaction, landing and keeping a job can be intimidating. Would like to know how to effectively navigate through this situation?

The book, The Hidden Curriculum of Getting and Keeping a Job: Navigating the Social Landscape of Employment A Guide for Individuals with Autism Spectrum and Other Social-Cognitive Challenges, is a practical guide for teaching the "unwritten rules." These "unwritten rules" are not so obvious for someone on the spectrum. For instance, how to talk to your supervisor, networking, or dealing with frustration.

Two of the three authors are on the spectrum and can speak from experience. I recommend it for anyone on the spectrum, young or old, who is looking for work or looking to improve their social skills in the workplace.

AAPC is the publisher of The Hidden Curriculum. Click here if you are interested in purchasing your own copy.

Prepare for Traveling with an Autistic Child

Monday, November 05, 2012


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in 88 children are on the autism spectrum. Because of this staggering statistic, there has been a major push to provide awareness throughout the community. In response to this growing awareness, the travel industry is taking note. 

Traveling with an autistic child can be overwhelming to both child and parent. In order to ease the stress of traveling, certain airports in the country are providing "mock boarding" experiences. This free program offers a trial run of what it is like to buy tickets, go through security, and buckling up on a plane that never takes off. Washington Dulles International Airport as well as Atlanta, Boston, Bridgeport, Manchester, Philadelphia, and Newark have offered this special program.  

TSA also provides a hotline - TSA Cares (1-855) 787-2227. Call 72 hours before your flight to let them know that you are in need of assistance. Try requesting use of the handicap line. Also, alert your airline. Keep in mind that not everyone will be compassionate to your situation. While awareness is growing, there are still many who do not understand. Do you best to be prepared, but realize there is only so much you can control. 

For more information and travel tips, I recommend reading The New York Times Article - Testing Autism and Air Travel. You may also be interested in my soon-to-be-released book,
 “Out of Mind - Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome,” click here to download a sample chapter. 


How Genes Impact Autism

Friday, October 12, 2012


Autism is a mystery that’s slowly being uncovered by the tireless work of researchers around the globe. Current research is zeroing in on whether genetics plays a role in autism and how genes impact the brain. 

 

Researchers at UCLA have focused their attention on a genetic mutation in the MET receptor tyrosine kinase gene that has proven to cause susceptibility to Autism. According to an article in UCLA’s newsroom here is what they found:

 

"For the first time, the researchers showed that the so-called "C" variant, which reduces MET protein expression, specifically impacts the network of connections among different areas of the brain involved in social behavior, including recognizing emotions shown on people's faces. While this gene variation is commonly found in the brains of both health individuals and those with ASD, the study showed that the gene has a bigger impact on brain connectivity in children with ASD. 

 

Their findings provide new insight into understanding ASD heterogeneity — the considerable individual differences in how ASD symptoms present — which has challenged the field in developing more effective diagnostic tools and biologically based interventions for all affected children. Eventually, genetic information may be useful in identifying subgroups of individuals with ASD who may better respond to different types of treatment."

 

The more information scientists uncover, the easier it will be to find the right kind of treatment for ASD. For more information on a high functioning form of ASD - visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions.

 


Scientists Link Genetic Mutations in Older Fathers to Autism

Friday, September 07, 2012


There has been plenty of controversy surrounding possible causes of autism and other disorders like schizophrenia. The New York Times Online posted a particularly newsworthy article about the link between these disorders and a father's age.

The study shows that genetic mutations are higher later in life. A child born to a male in their 20's had an average of 25 mutations. The mutations grew 2 per year. A male in their 40's had an average of 65 random mutations. Mothers showed a steady rate of 15 mutations regardless of age. Experts are saying that maybe 20-30% of these mutations may be linked to autism and schizophrenia.

Experts also say that this information may change when someone chooses to have children, but shouldn’t be a reason to not have children later in life. Of course, there are other possible factors that could cause these disorders in children. For more information on the study, read Father's Age Linked to Autism and Schizophrenia.

If your child has been diagnosed with autism or schizophrenia, psychotherapy can help. Contact my office to set up an appointment if you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area.

Autism's Context Blindness

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Mind blindness has become a common phrased used to explain the lack of empathy exhibited by individuals with autism. It has been used to explain the disconnect between social and emotional cognition. The facts are clear to an individual with autism, but non verbal communication or body language is lost due to mind blindness. Understanding mind blindness has been a critical part to understanding the autistic brain. According to some new research...there may be another type of blindness known as context blindness.

Dr. Peter Vermeulen discusses context blindness is his new book, Autism as Context Blindness. Vermeulen says, "The term context has its own intriguing historical context. Context comes from the Latin word contextus, the past continuous tense of contexere, which means to 'weave' or 'entwine.'" Context shapes our responses to life. For a person without autism (referred to as a neuro-tyical in the autistic world), life is relative or depends on the context. For someone with autism, life is absolute. Absolute is necessary to certain aspects in life, but not when it comes to social interaction.

NT's are always in the process of weaving a tapestry of relationships within relationships. Other people are how we come to know ourselves and our lives. NT's feel bereft without the connecting that is so important to us. Aspies cannot see the forest for the trees.

We will be discussing Context Blindness on September 15, 2012 at 1:00 in Portland, Oregon for the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD. Until then, pick up a copy of Autism as Context Blindness or click here to read Dr. Vermeulen's article: Autism: From Mind Blindness to Context Blindness. This new light may prove to be ground breaking.

My upcoming book, Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Mind, Out of Sight will discuss context blindness with regard to parenting with an Asperger partner. Click here to read a free sample chapter. 

How to Ease Your Child’s Back-to-School Anxiety

Monday, August 13, 2012


With school beginning soon, parents can assist their children to get off to a good start. This not only alleviates some of their anxiety, it can also help your child build confidence and performance academically and socially.

Be Positive
It is only natural for your child to feel apprehensive about the new school year. You can help ease their worries by speaking positively about what they are going to experience this year. Get them excited about that they are going to learn. Talk about the thing they enjoyed from previous years.

Ensure Your Child Is Healthy
Summer is a good time to schedule checkups with your pediatrician, dentist, and eye doctor. Make sure your child is up-to-date on immunizations and that you have the required documentation from your doctor. Your visit with you pediatrician is a good time to discuss any concerns you have over your child’s emotional or psychological development. This will help you identify any potential issues before school starts.

Get Everything Ready
Include your child when you are getting prepared for the school year. Take them with you when you do their school shopping and let them pick out things that they like. Help them put together their backpacks, discuss lunch and snack options, and help them lay out their clothes for school the night before. Make the preparation a joint effort.

Get into a Routine
Even though school hasn't started yet, it’s a good idea to start getting into a good routine that will ease them into their school schedule. Set a wake up time and bedtime for your child. This may need to be done gradually for them to adjust. Also start with a few academic games/projects to refresh their memories and get them to prepared for what to expect when school starts.

Visit School with Your Child
If this is the first year at a new school, a visit before the school year begins with your child will help them get comfortable with unfamiliar surroundings. Help them locate their classroom, restroom, lunchroom, and let them check out the playground! Oftentimes teachers are on-site a week ahead getting classrooms ready. You may want to call ahead and see if your child’s teacher will be available to introduce themselves to your child.

Communicate Regarding Special Needs
For parents who have children with special needs, such ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), it’s a good idea to put together a packet about your child for the teacher. Take a look at the article How to Assemble a Teacher Information Packet for some helpful tips.

These tips should not only make for a smooth transition from a summer schedule to the classroom, but may also make a difference in stress levels at home. Click here for more parenting advice.

Interview in “Everyday Health” – Coping with a Partner’s Asperger’s Syndrome

Friday, July 20, 2012


I was recently interviewed for an article in Everyday Health about Asperger Syndrome and relationships. The article is entitled, "Coping with a Partner's Asperger's Syndrome." I address the unique challenges that this situation creates as well as fours ways to cope when your partner has Asperger Syndrome.

Included in the article are two real life individuals with Asperger partners. Sharing these intimates details requires courage and I applaud them for sharing. There is also a nice plug for our local support group: Asperger Syndrome: Partner's and Family of Adults with ASD.

For more information about Asperger relationships, visit my website - Asperger's & Marriage. My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge? is also available.

Did You Grow Up with a Asperger Parent?

Monday, July 02, 2012


Asperger Syndrome is a high functioning form of autism. This diagnosis can sometimes go unnoticed and the individual is classified as being "different" or "unusual." Times are changing and more and more are recognizing that they either have Asperger Syndrome or that their spouse or parent have Asperger's. Either way, adjusting to this realization is challenging.

Did you grow up with an Aspie parent? How did being raised in an Asperger environment affect you? As a licensed psychologist who specializes in working with neuro-typicals or NT's (a term given to non-Aspie's), I have found this to be a unique situation and I do not mean that lightly. This is especially true of those raised by an Aspie parent. I have found that these individuals feel like they do not fit in the typical NT world or in the Aspie world yet they are sensitive to both. They crave an emotional connection with their parent, but feel convinced that nobody will truly understand who they are. What a conundrum!

You are not alone if you have felt this way before. I am overwhelmed by the response I have received from many NT's with Aspie parents. Connecting with others who have been in your shoes will not only provide comfort in an uncomfortable situation, but may help you to learn more about yourself. Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Support Group is an excellent medium for any who find themselves in this situation. Please join us for our monthly Meet Up if you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area. We will be meeting on July 21, 2012 to discuss what it is like being raised by an Asperger parent. If you are unable to attend, please visit on online page and become a member. The online support is incredible.

For more information on Asperger Syndrome, visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions.

New Drugs in the Works for Treating Autism

Thursday, June 21, 2012


This week a deal is in the works between a Swiss pharmaceutical company, Roche, and Seaside Therapeutics. They are planning on developing treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder and Fragile X Syndrome. Even though these disorders are different, they share similar symptoms. The anticipation for a drug to alleviate symptoms of ASD or Fragile X are high. Another company, Novartis, is also working on a similar drug. To learn more about these companies and their plans, read Competitors Form Partnership to Develop Autism Drug.

Time will tell if these types of treatments will prove to be effective or not. Whenever you are dealing with taking medication, it is always important to discuss it thoroughly with your doctor. Often times, medication can be abused or used incorrectly. Look for a mental health care professional who specializes in these types of developmental disorders. There are many therapy options that can work in conjunction with medication.

To learn more about these therapies, visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions and Psychotherapy Options.

Changing the Stigma Surrounding Mental Disorders and Illnesses

Thursday, June 07, 2012


Even with an increase in understanding, there is still a negative stigma surrounding mental disorders (Asperger Syndrome, ADHD) and illnesses (depression, OCD). Fear, discrimination, and rejection are some of the negative reactions that some have received because of their mental disorder/illness. Because of this, some fail to seek out treatment. Failure do so will only lead to serious consequences like substance abuse, failed marriages, suicide, or even jail.

How can this stigma be reduced? It is important to understand that these disorders/illness stem from the brain. The brain is a highly powerful organ in the body. As is true of any other organ, it doesn't always function properly. What would you do if you had heart disease? Wouldn't you immediately go to a heart specialist and get the right type of treatment and medication to help you heart? Should we view the brain in the same way?

Getting proper treatment is the big step to changing the stigma. Also, remind yourself that you are not the disorder or illness, it is just something you have. For example, if you had diabetes, do you run around introducing yourself as someone with diabetes? Of course not because it is just something you have, it is not who you are. The same should be for whatever your mental situation is. Don't allow it to define you. Yes, accept that it is a part of you, but do not let the idea of it change who you really are.

You are also not alone. Join a support group. You can now find a support group for just about anything. The more supported you feel, the more inclined you will feel to stick with your therapy and treatments. There may always be some stigma surrounding the mental health community, but it is changing. Don't let what others think change what you need to do to be a happier and mentally healthier person.

Contact my office if you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area if you would like to seek help for your mental disorder or illness.


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