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Kathy Marshack News

Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Find Support Online

Friday, December 03, 2010


Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD now has 216 members from around the world. Since our meetings are currently held in Portland, Beaverton, and Lake Oswego, Oregon, many of our members are not able to physically attend. In spite of this, our message boards have become a Meetup location in itself.

Our message board currently contain 8 different discussion forums. Out of these forums, literally hundreds of discussions have been formed with thousands of posts. Issues such as sleep problems, sex, parenting, co-dependency, grieving, medication, and much more are being discussed. Some of the most popular discussions: Christian and Asperger's, Alexithymia, Humorous Differences, Why God Made Aspergers, and How To Leave and Grieve. I have been impressed with the prolific writers in the group and I encourage you to keep writing! Something you write may touch the life of someone else.

Please come and join our group. No matter where you are in the world, you can chat with others, gain insight, and support. If you live in the Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA area, we would love to meet you in person at one of our Meetups. We will be meeting December 4, 2010 in Westside Portland to discuss, Asperger's and Other Co-Occurring Disorders- Does My Loved One Have Any? On December 11, 2010 in Portland, we will discuss Sensory Overload, Holiday Meltdowns and How to Survive. Click here for more information about the upcoming meetings.

We look forward to seeing you there or meeting you online! Thank you to all who continue to give support.

Parenting with an Asperger Spouse in Real Life vs. Hollywood

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


With as many as 1.5 million Americans having some form of autism, including milder variants, autism is a hot topic.  In 2009, the movie “Adam" highlighted the difficulties of falling in love with someone who has Asperger Syndrome and currently NBC’s “Parenthood” has a character with Asperger Syndrome. When I talk to couples in these difficult relationships, they’re not that interested in Hollywood, they’re looking for real life solutions.

With so much emphasis being placed on Asperger Syndrome, many are left wondering, how can someone co-parent with an Aspie partner? What about the children of an Asperger parent? How can a child thrive when his or her parent has so little empathy?

I’ve been moved to investigate these sensitive and unique issues especially after writing “Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? Practical Steps to Saving You and Your Relationship." As many of you know, I am currently writing a new book entitled, “Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind.”

I have found that when you live with Aspies it’s the ordinary things of life that cease to function properly – like getting enough sleep, or asking your spouse to pick up a child from soccer practice. When co-parenting with an Aspie these ordinary things become strained and turn into not-so-ordinary moments leaving the Neuro-typical (NT) partner feeling drained, unnerved, and tense. In fact many NT spouses/partners report a variety of psycho-somatic and immunodeficiency illnesses such as migraines, arthritis, gastric reflux and fibromyalgia.

If you find yourself in this situation, you are not alone. There are answers to this dilemma and I will continue to write about those answers. I encourage you to download a FREE
sample chapter of Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind.” I will continue to keep you updated on any news about the book and when it will be available. 

Autism and Anger - What is the Connection?

Monday, November 15, 2010


Behavioral problems, anxiety, and anger have all been linked with autism. These emotions stem back to the basic characteristics of autism which makes life much more challenging. When a child with autism can't understand or confront the challenge, they get frustrated and then act out their frustration by displaying anger. This is a vicious cycle that can be physically and emotionally taxing for them and also for their loved ones.

As a parent, it’s vital that you take action to help your autistic child work through the anger they may be experiencing. Methods for coping with frustration and anger include:

Identifying Triggers
Try to identify what triggers the anger. What frustrates them? When does it turn from frustration to anger? By identifying the cause, you can work to either eliminate it or work to overcome it. You may want to keep an accurate record of the events and reactions to help you identify what the triggers are.

Teaching Them How to Communicate
After identifying the triggers, you can begin teaching and training your child to work through their frustration. Explain to them what they should do when they begin to feel that way. Come up with a system or a way for them to communicate to you that they are feeling that way and need help. This takes time and persistence on the part of the parent. Ask your therapist for suggestions on how to do this effectively.

Getting the Right Kind of Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been the most effective type of therapy when dealing with autism. CBT addresses the way you think and how to change faulty irrationally thinking into more constructive, solution-oriented thinking. Click here for more information on CBT. Please contact my office if you live in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area and are looking for a therapist to help you parent your autistic child.

 

Neuro-typicals Ask – Am I Really That Different?

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Am I really that different? Am I really that hard to understand or identify with? Am I really unlovable? When you are married or in a relationship with someone with Asperger Syndrome, you have probably asked yourself that question before. For some reason we have a hard time shaking the belief that we are different, difficult to understand, or even not very likeable.

Obviously there are reasons for this . . . such as the fact that living with someone who has a deficit in the area of empathy and reciprocity can contribute to misconceptions about ourselves. We may lose sight of our own reality and collapse into agonizing despair and sadly we begin to believe that those misconceptions are true.

This type of mental and emotional confusion needs powerful therapy to break through the faulty reasoning that is a result of using NT (neurotypical) logic to make sense of the Asperger world. Often times therapy is directed towards the Asperger spouse, but in order for the relationship to heal and progress, therapy is necessary for both partners. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office for more information regarding effective therapy options.

You are also invited to join our upcoming Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD support group. We will be discussing the theme: Are we really that different? on November 13, 2010.

My book Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? is also available for purchase. 

Give Your Autistic Child Positive Reinforcement

Sunday, October 31, 2010


In a recent blog, I wrote about the value of learning the early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders. The benefit of early recognition is that specific training can begin immediately. One type of training is to instill positive reinforcement when working with your child. When you reinforce their good behavior, it will help them to understand what is the right way to act.

This actually works whether or not your child has ASD. However, as parents it’s so easy to fall into only commenting on bad behavior. In order to give positive reinforcement, you have to be looking for the good behavior and good qualities that they are exhibiting and be quick to commend them. When giving commendation, be specific. Explain what they did that you liked and why you liked it. Did they do a good job making eye contact? Did they use the right language? Even a little thing can be a good thing to reinforce.

Another way to do this is to offer rewards when they have done something positive. Make sure that the reward fits the child otherwise it will not mean anything to them. The reward can be verbal or something tangible. The goal is to help them to make the connection that their good behavior equals positive reinforcement.

Each child is different, so different things work for different children. So be patient and focus on the positive. For more information on positive reinforcement, read Being Proactive in Therapy and Research.

If you are parenting with a spouse with Asperger Syndrome, download a free sample chapter from my newest project Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind.

 

 

Be Proactive - Learn the Early Signs of ASD

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


According to the CDC, 1 in 110 children in the United States are being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD. With the numbers rising, it is of high importance that parents be proactive and learn the early signs of ASD. Early diagnosis is vital! This knowledge will make an enormous difference in the life of the child and the parent. Once the diagnosis is made, then training can begin.

The Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention is taking note of the delayed diagnosis of ASD and is now working to educate parents on the early signs of ASD. They have a wide variety of tools available on their website. For example, one tool enables parents to keep track of milestones in the early development of their child and what they should be looking for. They also discuss what to do if you are concerned, how to talk to your doctor, where do go for an evaluation, free resource kits and much more.

I encourage you to take advantage of the many resources that are available. Don't delay! This could greatly impact your future and the future of your child. To learn more about parenting with a spouse with ASD click here.

New Studies Report No Link Found Between Autism and Vaccines

Friday, September 17, 2010


There’s a lot of speculation about possible causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder. One such speculation pointed to thimerosal-containing vaccines. According to a new study from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), there is no increased risk of autism after receiving a vaccination as an infant or while in the womb – around 20 studies found no such link.

With this new information, CDC Director of Immunization Safety and study researcher Frank DeStefano, says that the focus should be to look for other possible causes. To read more about these findings, read CDC Study Shows No Vaccine, Autism Link

With an estimated 1 in 110 children in the United States now being diagnosed with ASD, it can be disconcerting not having a clear reason why these numbers are rising. As a psychologist, even though unsure of the cause, I focus on how to cope with living with ASD or living with someone with ASD. If you are in a relationship with someone with a high-functioning form of autism or Asperger Syndrome, you may be striving to understand how this disorder impacts you and your relationship. My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?, emphasizes the importance of fully understanding Asperger Syndrome and then taking a close look at how it impacts their lives. Without insight and tolerance gained from understanding, many spouses end up feeling misunderstood, frustrated, isolated and unloved.

I am also writing a new book about co-parenting with an Asperger partner. Click here to download a free sample chapter of Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind.

 

Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD New Group in Lake Oswego, OR

Thursday, September 09, 2010


Good news! The Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Support Group now has a sister group meeting in Lake Oswego, Oregon. The hope is to offer a different time and location for people to meet. The group will be facilitated by two wonderful members from the Portland group. Here are the details for the next meeting:

What: Asperger Syndrome:Partners & Family of Adults with ASD

When: Saturday, September 25, 2010 1:00 PM

Where: Terrace Kitchen - 485 2nd Street (corner of 2nd & B Ave.), Lake Oswego, OR 97034

This group is available for Portland members as well as newcomers. We hope you come and join us for our discussions. Click here to join and RSVP.

High Divorce Rates for Parents Raising a Child with Autism

Thursday, September 02, 2010


Will the marriage survive once an autistic child grows up? Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Waisman Center decided to focus their attention on this particular subject. According to their research, couples are more likely to divorce when their autistic child becomes a teen or adult than couples who have children with no disabilities. Sigan Hartley, a UW-Madison assistant professor explains, "Typically, if couples can survive the early child-rearing years, parenting demands decrease and there is often less strain on the marriage. However, parents of children with autism often continue to live with and experience high parenting demands into their child's adulthood, and thus marital strain may remain high in these later years." For more information on this study, please read Study Details Autism's Heavy Toll Beyond Childhood on Marriages.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, it is vital that you seek help for your marriage as well as help to cope with your autistic loved one. There are many different avenues that one can take to get support. Find a mental health care professional that can offer guidance in the marriage as well as dealing with an autistic child. You may want to look for a local support group that focuses on relationships with a ASD family member. If you live the in the Portland, Oregon area check out Asperger Syndrome: Partners or Family of Adults with ASD. If you do not live nearby, you can join us online where we have many group discussions on our forum.

If you are parenting with an Asperger spouse, please download a free sample chapter of my upcoming book - Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind.”

New Brain Scan for Diagnosing Adult Autism

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Experts have been searching for easier methods to diagnose adult autism. Current methods can be lengthy and expensive. Scientists at King's College London are in the process of developing a brain scan to diagnose autism.

The Medical Research Counsel performed a study on 40 different individuals – 20 with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and 20 without ASD. They first diagnosed their patients using previously known methods and then performed a 15 minute MRI. Small differences in the brain were identified. They had a success rate of 90% according to the Journal of Neuroscience. For more detailed information on this study, read BBC News - New Brain Scan To Diagnose Autism.

These experts are hopeful that this test will become a widely used method for diagnosing ASD. Then the patient will be able to get immediate attention from a professional who can assist them with coping techniques. This is also exciting information because it may help us learn more about brain abnormalities and ASD.  

For more information on adult Autism Spectrum Disorder, visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions.


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