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Kathy Marshack News

Partners & Family of Adults with Asperger Syndrome - Spread The Word

Friday, February 12, 2010


 
I continue to hear from many who wish that there were more avenues to spread the word about relationships with loved ones who have Asperger’s. I have also felt this way which prompted me to write my book, "Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?I recognize that many are unable to write a book to express their thoughts and feelings on the subject, but there are other ways to share.


There has been an amazing response after establishing the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD support group. The Meetup.com message board has become a place for many around the world, not just in the Portland area, to come and share their thoughts, stories, and essays. One particular article stirred up over 200 views. I would like to continue encouraging you to use this incredible resource to spread the word about ASD relationships.

Slowly but surely this topic is getting more attention. Take a look at a recent book review on "Going Over the Edge?" on About.com - http://learningdisabilities.about.com/od/parentsandfamilyissues/gr/Marshack.htm. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support. As a united front, we can spread the word about living with and loving our family members with Asperger Syndrome.

How Autistic Traits Can Benefit the Workplace

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Asperger Syndrome (AS) is known as high functioning autism. Since AS itself shows a range or spectrum of symptom severity, many individuals who might meet criteria for that diagnosis are viewed as "unusual" or "just different." A few of the typical traits of Asperger Syndrome are (1)impaired use of nonverbal behaviors to regulate social interaction, (2) restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, and (3) preoccupation with parts of objects.

Some may view these as negative traits, and granted they do make life more challenging, but someone with Asperger Syndrome can't just shy away from the world because of their disorder. They still have to face the "normal" things in life – like work. The question is, how can someone with Asperger Syndrome turn their autistic traits into something positive in the workplace?

There are many job opportunities that really do suit someone with Asperger Syndrome. The key is to find what the AS individual is passionate about and what their talents are, then look for job opportunities that would support that. For instance, someone with AS is usually socially challenged, but there are many jobs that require solitude. About.com posted an excellent article, Autisitic Traits: A Plus for Many Careers, that mentions different autistic traits and jobs that might work out well for these individuals.

Living life with Asperger Syndrome is full of challenges, but by making the right choices and using the talents that you have available to you, you will continue to get the most out of life. Visit my webpage Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Going Over the Edge? is Going Worldwide

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


My book, "Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?" has been gaining more international attention recently. This doesn’t surprise me because when I posted the first chapter on my website three years ago I received emails from readers around the world. I am thrilled to see that my book is more readily available to those outside the US.

For Europeans, Eurospan Bookstore has made Going Over the Edge? available for purchase on their website. The website includes the book forward by Stephen Shore, the introduction, the first three chapters, and the front and back cover.

If you live in India, Flipkart.com has added my book to their inventory. They ship throughout India, but you must pay in rupees.

I have added these links to the Asperger Syndrome Recommended Links on my website for future reference. I will continue to keep you posted on any more exciting updates!

Autism Numbers Are Skyrocketing

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


According to the latest CDC (Center for Disease Control) report, autism numbers are rising. There has been a 57% increase in autism cases in the last four years and it has been stated that 1% of American 8 year old children are being diagnosed with autism. With these kind of numbers, the CDC is recognizing autism to be a major health issue. Many are hoping that this type of information will spark more national attention and additional funding.

Numbers and figures like these are very important for parents and the medical community. Parents need to be alert to the signs and symptoms of autism. They should not be shy to investigate their concerns. The sooner a parents knows if their child has autism, the sooner proper care can be administered. With statistics on the rise, it is very likely that concerned parents have a reason to be worried and are not just paranoid. It is my hope that doctors will continue to be proactive and investigate on an individual and national level.

Please click here to read more about this new research. If you are interested in speaking to a health care professional about autism or Asperger Syndrome, contact my office for more information or visit Therapy FAQ on my website.

Tips for Traveling with an Autistic Family Member

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Tips for Children

When you have an Autistic or Asperger’s child, the idea of traveling can feel like a daunting task. One of the main symptoms of autism is the need for a routine, and traveling can throw routine right out the window. But it is not always possible to stay confined at home. So, is traveling possible or even advisable with an autistic child?

Absolutely! I was inspired by Gina Degiudice-Asch, a mother with a 16 year old autistic son. The New York Times posted a video interview (produced by Miki Meek) with Gina discussing how she overcomes the challenges of traveling with her autistic son Andrew. She shares excellent travel tips that have worked for their family trips – such as planning in advance and adjusting how they travel. What I also found interesting was that traveling has helped Andrew grow and blossom as a young person. He has become more adaptable and now at 16, traveling has become much easier.

Tips for Adults

Traveling with an Autistic or Asperger adult can be just as daunting as traveling with an Autistic child. The need for structure and the usual routines is just as prominent for adults on the Spectrum as for children. How about the AS adult who has to count every bag multiple times and worries himself sick that the bags will get lost in transit? Or the frantic AS adult whose stress mounts with each passenger that boards ahead of him on the plane . . . worrying that there will be no more space in the overhead bin? The last thing you need is a full blown meltdown at the airport with security so tight these days.

One woman discovered this cure. Wherever she goes with her AS husband the couple has decided that they can take no more than one bag . . . and it must be a carry on. Secondly, at the gate, she notifies the airline gate attendant that her spouse has an Autism Spectrum Disorder and that he requires priority seating because of his extreme anxiety. If further explanation is necessary, she explains what an adult meltdown will look like. No problem, they are seated even before the first class passengers, so her husband can find the perfect spot to store his bag.

Planning in advance and making necessary adjustments are critical when traveling with an autistic family member. Take a few extra steps before you leave and you’ll ensure a more relaxing trip for everyone!

Book Review on Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge

Friday, December 11, 2009


When you are in a relationship with someone with Asperger Syndrome, you will experience ups and downs. This is not to say that the Aspie partner is to blame or is at “fault.” However, given that the core characteristics of Asperger Syndrome relate to communication, emotions, perspective taking and sensory issues, the very components upon which relationships are built, it is no wonder that misunderstanding and frustration often crop up in these relationships.

I was recently quoted in an article by Pam Mellskog of Longmont Time Calls Newspaper for an article on adult Asperger relationships. In the article she highlights the relationship of Miles and Eugenia. Miles has Asperger Syndrome. The couple discusses their issues with communication and the added influence of Asperger Syndrome in their relationship.

Mellskog recommends my book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge, as a book specifically designed to address communication issues in adult Asperger relationships. The book is unique in how it addresses the often “touchy” topics of sex, rage, divorce and shame. I share poignant anecdotes from individuals I’ve worked with over the years who have been in NT-Aspie relationships, including myself, giving a glimpse at the “inner workings” of these relationships. I’m glad to see that this important topic is getting more attention. To read the article in its entirety, visit TimesCalls.com - Love can prevail.

New Research Suggests One Percent of US Children may have Autism Disorders

Monday, October 12, 2009


Two new government studies indicate about 1 in 100 American children have autism disorders – which is significantly higher than a previous US estimate of one in 150. One of the studies, published in the journal Pediatrics by researchers at the Health Resources and Services Administration, reports that one in every 91 children ages 3 to 17 have such a disorder, as determined by a survey of 78,000 parents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is announcing their not-yet published results of a study that finds about one in 100 8-year-olds has an autism spectrum disorder, or ASD.

 

Researchers don’t know how much of the increase is a result of more frequent and earlier diagnoses and how much is a result of a real rise in the conditions. The Pediatrics paper discusses several possible explanations for the apparent increase in ASD diagnoses including a broader definition of autism disorders and a heightened awareness on the part of parents and doctors. Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said in a news conference: "The concern here is that buried in these numbers is a true increase." Insel noted that President Obama wants to increase spending on autism research by the National Institutes of Health by 16% — a bigger increase than in any other area of NIH research.

 

 England just recently released their first study of adults with autism. Apparently the findings confirm that ASD is just as common in adults as it is in children. Researchers at the University of Leicester, found that roughly 1 in 100 adults are on the spectrum — the same rate found for children in England. In fact, researchers found no significant differences in autism prevalence among people they surveyed in their 30s, 40s, 50s, right up through their 70s! Yet, as we know, the adult population with ASD is definitely under-diagnosed and therefore underserved.

 

Asperger Syndrome and Codependency

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


As more adults are being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (AS), mental health professionals are learning that one of the most handicapping problems faced by these adults occurs in their interpersonal relationships. The primary reason that adults with Asperger Syndrome have poor interpersonal relationships is that they have underdeveloped social skills, the major one being empathy. The way the spouse of the Asperger Syndrome partner often copes with this lack of empathy is to become codependent.

 

Codependence is defined as a state of mind where you put your needs and dreams aside in order to help the other person have a life. Kindness is doing these kinds of things sometimes and having a balance of give and take in a relationship. In a codependent relationship, no matter how much you give the other person does not return the favor. Yet you keep on giving and getting more fatigued, frustrated and resentful.

 

Codependence leads to micromanaging the AS members of the family. Because the AS members are doing everything they can to function in other areas of life, such as their job, everything else gets dropped. The codependent person picks up what is dropped as well as managing his or her own life.

 

1.    The codependent arranges all of the social life.

2.    Or the codependent is fully responsible for childcare and home management.

3.    Or the codependent covers for his spouses social faux pas.

4.    Or the codependent lays out her husband’s clothes because he always mismatches things.

5.    Or the codependent pays for extra childcare or dry cleaning because his wife is so overloaded.

6.    Or the codependent works overtime or a second job because his spouse cannot earn enough money or keep a steady job.

7.    Or the codependent takes a job for health benefits because her spouse is self-employed in lieu of unsteady employment.

8.    Or the codependent stays up late to type the teenager’s paper so that the kid won’t turn in homework late again.

 

The codependent experiences burnout eventually. To get beyond codependency, you need to explore self-care. Put your needs first and see to them first.  Since your AS spouse or child loves you but has no idea how you tick, make your beliefs and needs known in concrete ways.

 

Educate yourself as much as possible about the relationship issues of AS so that you can spot the symptoms of dysfunction early and correct the problems. Use books, tapes, and psychotherapy. You can also use a support group to replenish your energy because this is a difficult task – if you live in Portland/Vancouver check out the group Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD.

 

To learn more about AS and codependency in relationships visit my Asperger & Marriage page or take a look at my book - Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? Practical Steps to Saving You and Your Relationship.

 

 

 

 


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