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Kathy Marshack News

The Art of Detachment - Self-Care Tips for those in an Asperger Relationship

Monday, June 20, 2016


The Art of Detachment - Self-Care Tips for those in an Asperger RelationshipLiving with a mate who has Asperger’s Syndrome is filled with stress. You love them but they are unpredictable. You never know how they’ll react to an ordinary situation.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that many NT (neuro-typical) mates report a variety of psychosomatic and immunodeficiency illnesses, such as migraines, arthritis, gastric reflux, and fibromyalgia. When the body is regularly thrown into a state of alarm, the over-production of adrenalin and cortisol wreaks havoc with the body’s natural defense mechanisms.

Recently I wrote an article for PsychCentral on the need to care for yourself first. This may seem impossible at first, because of the chaos of family life. But it is essential and possible if you learn the art of detachment.

Detachment is learning to protect yourself from all of those not-so-ordinary moments. It doesn’t mean you stop caring about your loved ones. It simply means that you:

  • Stop taking it all personally.
  • Stop worrying if you’ve covered all the bases.
  • Stop beating yourself up for your flaws.
  • Stop expecting more from your AS spouse than he or she can give.

When you learn the art of detaching, you actually free up some energy to care for yourself. And that creates the energy to make better decisions instead of flitting from crisis to crisis.

There are two methods for achieving detachment:

1. Emotional self-care is doing all of the healthy feel-good things you can fit into your day. If you notice that you’re drinking, eating, or smoking too much, you need healthier self-care. Make it a point to always plan healing rest and recreation in your day, too.

2.Cognitive self-care consists of education. When you can’t fathom what’s going on with your Aspie, and they’re accusing you of things you didn’t do, stress increases. It’s bad enough to be misunderstood. It’s quite another to try to operate without a frame of reference for the misunderstanding. Even though it’s work to read a book and to attend psychotherapy, knowledge is power.

When I was learning to deal with family members with ASD, there weren’t that many resources. So I founded a Meetup group, Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD. It has helped many cope as they connect with others living through he same experiences. Check it out and if it feels right for you, please hit the “join” button.

Asperger Logic vs. Intelligence – Take Back Your Right to be Intelligent in Your Unique Way

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


People with Aspergers are highly intelligent and logical, yet they don’t understand different types of intelligence like emotional intelligence and empathy.Our first Video Conference on the topic of "High Functioning Autism" was “eye opening”, “excellent” and “validating” according to those who joined us. One participant mentioned that these discussions are “giving her a voice and a real perspective”.

I am so thrilled that I’m able to support so many of you in your quest for greater understanding and ways of coping with the crazy making world of Asperger’s Syndrome. I heartily thank all who have the courage to reach out and connect in the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup group.

It’s easy to confuse logic with intelligence. High Functioning doesn’t mean that your Aspie is somehow superior. They’re just as autistic as any other autistic when it comes to empathy, meaning that they have zero degrees of empathy. But they often have an abundance of logic to convince us that empathy is overrated.

First, remember that even though our Aspies may be logical, they may also be irrational. For example, they may logically deduce that your argument or position lacks merit because you cannot prove your point. Or they may deduce that since women earn less than men, they should pay all women less for their services. It’s not rational to conclude that you are "wrong" just because you don’t present sufficient evidence to convince them. Likewise, it’s irrational to argue that women should earn less because over the decades they have.

Second, remember that intelligence comes in all shapes and sizes. You may be emotionally intelligent or artistically intelligent or socially intelligent or intuitively intelligent, etc. You need not possess mathematical/logical intelligence to be intelligent, though this is the type of intelligence that many of our Aspies value.

Third, it's time to take back our right to be intelligent in our own unique way.
Empathy is an incredible gift to possess. We use it in myriad ways to navigate the social world. When you learn to love and appreciate yourself fully (including your capacity for empathy), then interacting with our Aspie loved one becomes more stress free.

The next video conference takes up where we’re leaving off in the discussion of High Functioning Autism. If you’re a member of Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, you’re invited to the next free TeleConference where we’ll be discussion: Logic v. Intelligence. It will be held on Thursday, June 2nd at 2:30 PM PDT and again on Thursday, June 28th at 4:00 PM PDT.

Are you a neurotypical (one who doesn’t have Asperger’s) and you’re living in an Asperger home and haven’t joined Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD yet? It’s a free worldwide Meetup where you find support and understanding. Why not join us today?

Another option: If you would like more one-on-one counseling and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Neuro-Emotional Technique Helps Our Aspies Connect the Dots

Monday, May 16, 2016


Since those with Aspergers struggle to explain what’s going on in their hearts and minds, use Neuro-Emotional Technique to remove the emotional road blocks.Sometimes talk therapy isn’t enough to help people remove emotional blocks. This is especially true for those challenged with Asperger’s Syndrome. But there are ways to help. Like hypnosis and other more holistic therapeutic approaches, NET allows people to bypass talk analysis and get to the heart of their problems without having to come up with a good explanation for the change. I’ve found this to be a less stressful treatment for people with Asperger’s Syndrome, since they struggle to explain what’s going on in their hearts and minds.

Recently I wrote an article for PsychCentral discussing this topic and shared an example of how NET helped one teenager, Austen, find the missing element he needed in order to do what his mother wanted him to do.

To summarize the story: His mother thought that withholding his precious laptop would force him to clean his bathroom. Austen admitted that the bathroom needed to be cleaned, but he could see no connection between getting his laptop back and cleaning his room. This confusion caused them to be at a stalemate. I encourage you to click here to read the entire PsychCentral article. (And while you’re there, will you share this information from your favorite social media platform, too?)


As a NET Practitioner, I was able to help Austen with Neuro-Emotional Technique. NET incorporates the concept of Applied Kinesiology, and the meridian system of Chinese medicine. Using acupressure points on the wrist and testing for congruence between mind and body, he was able to release his emotional blocks. It allows Austen to communicate with his unconscious through NET. Without empathy, Austen was stymied about how to accomplish something he was powerfully motivated to do. Once Austen and I had identified the missing piece, we could use the NET approach to integrate the elements he needed to clean the bathroom. I’m happy to report that Austen got his laptop back the next day.

Not only does NET help those with Asperger’s, it’s also a fabulous tool for helping people release unresolved emotional stress. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and want to discuss how NET may be able to help you, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

What does Very High Functioning Autism Mean?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Learn what Very High Functioning Autism means, and if you see this telltale sign, it may be Asperger’s Syndrome, so don’t delay getting a proper diagnosis.How do you know if someone has Asperger’s Syndrome? Nine times out of ten the members of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group report that their adult Aspies are "very high functioning Asperger's." Or they worry that "my partner has only traits of ASD" so may not be diagnosable. Or they ask for help determining "where" on the Spectrum their Aspie may be.

First, in order to be diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, the autistic person has to be identified as "high functioning" already. There is no such thing as "high functioning Asperger's."

Second, now that we have dropped the diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome from the definition of autism, it has been replaced by "high functioning autism" on the Autism Spectrum Disorder spectrum.

If you suspect your partner has ASD, even if you think they can fool everyone but you, they still may have autism. The high functioning part merely refers to the ability of many autistic people to manage life well enough, such as marriage and career accomplishments. It doesn't mean they have empathy.

Empathy is the clincher. Without a theory of mind, and with context blindness, even the most talented Aspie is no more high functioning than an autistic further left on the Spectrum.

The reason to clear up this mystery is to help NTs break free of the manipulative hold your Aspie has on you. When you get that they view the world differently because they have no empathy, it makes it easier to plan around their disability.

If you’re a member of Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group and you’d like to join 9 other NT members as we discuss this topic, please sign up for the next low cost Video Conference. We’ll be discussing: What Does Very High Functioning Mean? It will be held on Thursday, May 26th at 4:00 PM PDT. There are still a few spots left, but sign up soon to ensure you get your spot.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and need a diagnosis for ASD or Asperger’s Syndrome, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Living with an Aspie – How to Find Freedom from Blame and Shame

Wednesday, May 04, 2016


We often feel shame when dealing with our Aspies, because they can't put themselves in our shoes, they tend to find fault or blame us for misunderstandings.When you’re living in an Asperger home, you may often end up feeling that it’s all your fault, that you should have better control of your home life and family relationships. We often feel shame when dealing with our Aspies who lack empathy. Because they can't put themselves in our shoes, they tend to find fault or blame us for misunderstandings.

Why do those with Asperger’s Syndrome blame others?

This is a natural byproduct of an empathy disorder, unless the Aspie develops a strong moral code. It’s harder to take responsibility for a misunderstanding (or other interpersonal breakdown) when you don't have empathy to compare yourself to another. As a result Aspies can become quite manipulative, narcissistic and engage in the Blame Game.

Furthermore, we NTs may also be blamed for overreacting to our Aspies. I know I used to be called on the carpet for not "controlling" my Aspie daughter's public meltdowns. I was accused right on the spot of being a "bad" mother.

That's where the shame comes in. If you are blamed long enough, and you have made a mistake or two in the relationship, you might take on responsibility for too much and feel Shame. Shame is also a natural byproduct of living daily with a blaming spouse or partner or acting out Aspie child.

What can you do?

If you’re a member of Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, you’re invited to the next free TeleConference where we’ll be discussion: Freedom from Blame and Shame. It will be held on Thursday, May 12th at 2:30 PM PDT.

Please join us for a rousing discussion on how to free yourself from Shame by breaking up the Blame/Shame Game. It's not enough to understand what's happening to you. You need strategies to take back your life and to know how truly wonderful you are!

Are you a neurotypical (one who doesn’t have Asperger’s) and you’re living in an Asperger home and haven’t joined Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD yet? It’s a free worldwide Meetup where you find support and understanding. Why not join us today?

Another option available to you: If you would like more one-on-one counseling and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Understanding Autism - Why Do They Have Trouble Making Eye Contact?

Monday, April 18, 2016


Understand Why people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can look you in the eye sometimes (albeit briefly) and at other times they can’t make eye contactWhy is it that people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can look you in the eye sometimes (albeit briefly) and at other times they can’t? Until now, ASD researchers have had difficulty identifying the triggers that cause people on the autism spectrum to avoid eye contact.

Psychology Today reports on a new study that is unlocking the puzzle. Researchers at the University of Vermont (UVM) devised an experiment using eye-tracking technology and Skype. The scientists observed and tracked the eye movements of children between the ages six and twelve. Nineteen of the participants were typically developing children and the other eighteen were children with autism.

As they conversed about “things people do” topics, all of the children made eye contact. However, when the conversation switched to talking about “things people feel,” the children with ASD began looking at the mouth rather than the eyes. The researchers also found that the more severe the autism is the more frequently the child avoided eye contact.

The researchers associate the shifting gaze and autism severity with lower levels of executive function (EF). They hypothesize that talking about emotions short circuits their EF, so the children shift their gaze so they won’t overload their cerebral limit. Whereas, the NT person looks for emotional and social cues from facial expressions, especially from the eyes, the ASD child finds it too overwhelming. As a result, children with ASD haven’t developed social skills.

To summarize what lead author Tiffany Hutchins, Ph.D. said:

"When a child with ASD talks with me about emotions, it’s very draining. It's like driving in a snowstorm. They don't just watch passively. They have to monitor my engagement, think about what I'm doing, my tone, and my affect to get my full meaning. They are totally focused, every move is tense and effortful, and their executive function drains away. In fact, we found that decreased working memory correlated with decreased eye fixations, so as working memory decreases, we see fewer fixations on the eyes."

She concluded that pressuring children with autism to make eye contact can potentially backfire. It may be best to recognize their need to gaze away in order to reserve his or her executive function resources. Instead, she recommends changing how you phrase things using “what people do” versus “how they feel” and you’ll have a profound impact on where the eyes go for information. And don’t forget to give positive reinforcement for their good behavior.

Does your family need personalized help with learning how to cope with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of Autism Spectrum Disorder? If so, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

How to Handle the Loneliness of a NT/ASD Relationship

Friday, April 15, 2016


The loneliness you feel in your relationship with one who has Asperger’s (ASD) is heartbreaking, leaving you emotionally bereft, but there is help and hope…I often hear from new members of our Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, or those who have found my books, that they finally don't feel so alone. They’re stunned that someone knows what they live with. They tell me that the stories in my books are nearly identical to their own. And they wonder how that’s possible!

It's possible because I know only too well the loneliness of life with Aspies. When I was first coming to terms with the loneliness and how to take back my life, there was no one to help me. There were no books, no knowledgeable psychotherapists, and not even friends anymore. Not only was I alone and trying to parent two children with special needs, but I was dragged into a hostile divorce that intrigued the community (e.g. more than once my situation was front page news).

The main thing that saved me was writing my books. I knew that there had to be others like me. I had a few clients with the same dilemmas too. When I sat down to draft my books, I felt free. Finally I was freely expressing myself about the convoluted life of ASD/NT relationships.

The second thing that saved me was starting the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group. Inviting all of you into a worldwide community has made all of the difference to me. We come from all walks of life, from every continent. We speak many languages and celebrate a variety of cultural traditions. Yet we instantly understand each other when we share our stories about ourselves and our Aspies.

If you’re a member of this group, you’re invited to the next free TeleConference where we’ll be discussion: How to handle the loneliness. It will be held on Thursday, April 21st at 2:30 PM PDT. Join us as we break down the loneliness barriers. Come prepared to share your successes and your dilemmas. After all we’re a community and we’re here to support you and to gain support.

One recent member was helped so much by this group that she said: “Thank you for creating this group. Since learning about ASD, my husband has done a lot of work on his emotional awareness and responsiveness, in therapy and on his own. We're doing well! Thanks again for the support.”

If you’re a NT in an Aspie relationship – whether with a spouse, parent, partner, or child – know that there is a community of people waiting to welcome you with open arms. Join the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup group and start getting acquainted today.

Read more on my website: Asperger & Marriage and Asperger Syndrome Support.

Why Do Ones with Asperger’s Syndrome Always Say NO!

Wednesday, April 06, 2016


Discover why ones with Asperger’s Syndrome default to non committal answers when they’re asked questions or given invitations, so you can learn how to cope.If you’ve been around someone with Asperger’s Syndrome for very long, you’ll notice our Aspie loved ones default to non-committal answers when they’re asked questions or are invited to fun activities. Some variations on NO! are, "I don't know," or "I don't want to," or just a blank stare.

How do you react to this situation? Many people become infuriated by this behavior and give up. Hopefully you’ve gone beyond holding your own life back because your Aspie spouse can’t commit. It’s important to make plans without your Aspie.

It might help to understand the reason behind this behavior. That way you can plan accordingly. It's pretty simple really. No is a response that buys time. It doesn't really mean, NO! It means "I don't understand," or "I need more time to process what you are saying," or "I don't see what this has to do with me."

Because Aspies lack empathy, they don't bother to think about why you’re asking or what might be your motivation. They don't consider doing something with you or for you, just for the simple pleasure of making you happy. They may want you to be happy but they can't fathom why that means they have to answer your question – especially since the way you phrase it makes no sense to them.

For example, you might say, "Honey, I was thinking of taking the kids to the coast this weekend. What do you think?"

He/She says, "Have a nice time."

You say, "Well I want to make it a family time for all of us."

He/She says, "You go and have fun. I don't want to go."

You say, "Well it's been a long time since you joined the kids and me for an outing. I'd like you to come along."

He/She says, "I don't have time to go. I have a lot of work to do."

You say, "Why don't you ever want to do anything with us?"

He/She looks at you as if you have two heads and says, "That's not true!"

I could go on but you get the picture. If you’re a member of the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, and you’d like to join 10 other NT members as we discuss this topic, please sign up for the next Video Conference: Why do they always say NO! on Thursday, April 14th 9AM PDT or Thursday, April 28th at 3PM PDT. There are still a few spots left. We’ll explore how to get past this resistance so you can have meaningful conversations that actually get somewhere, instead of pure frustration. I'm not promising you they’ll suddenly be a delight to live with, but there are some small detours around their penchant for saying NO!

How Do You Deal with Conflict - Capitulate, Compromise or Detach?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


When dealing with conflict do you compromise, capitulate or detachIt’s inevitable in any relationship that there will be conflict. No two people are going to always see eye-to-eye on everything. That’s why communication is called the lifeblood of a relationship. The sooner you talk out the problem, the better.

But what if you’re married to someone with Asperger’s Syndrome? It’s not their fault that they have trouble communicating their thoughts and feelings and can’t understand yours. They try their best within the framework that we built with them.

But to build a framework that supports you and your Aspie partner takes work and a special understanding of your own needs and that of your partner. At times, the lack of empathy demonstrated by Aspie loved ones may lead you to lose sight of your own reality so that you collapse into agonizing despair. This type of mental and emotional confusion needs powerful therapy to break through the faulty reasoning that is a result of using NT logic to make sense of the Asperger world.

Oftentimes, it just feels easier to capitulate, compromise or detach. Yet, none of these options sound good do they? I mean when you just want to be heard and understood and maybe even get your way once in awhile. . . why does it have to be soooo hard? But Asperger/NT relationships are very hard. That’s why we need to support one another and share our success and challenges.

If you’re a member of the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, please join our next Free TELECONFERENCE: Capitulate, Compromise or Detach Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 2:00 PM. We’ll explore the options to navigating a conversation with our Aspies. Yes, we still have to use a lot of capitulating, compromising and detaching to get anything accomplished, but there might be a few other tricks to move the conversation along toward a mutually satisfying agreement. Come prepared with questions and solutions. I don't have all of the answers either. I do know, however, that when the mood is right, and I am very centered, it does go better.

Please note: This call is for NT members only. Do not invite your Aspies. Please find a private place to listen away from others, so everyone's privacy is respected.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and would like some in-person help with your NT/AS relationship issues, please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can find the strategies that help you and your family thrive.

Read more on my website: Asperger and Marriage.

Does Your Aspie Also Suffer from a Personality Disorder?

Monday, March 07, 2016


Those with Asperger’s Syndrom may also be suffering from Schizotypal Personality Disorder or other personality disorders that require additional treatment. A personality disorder occurs when a person has rigid, unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior. They have trouble relating in social situations. Whereas, those with Asperger’s want to have friendships, those with some personality disorders don’t care. They’re more comfortable with their loner status.

What are some of the personality disorders that may be misdiagnosed as Asperger’s or may be present along with Asperger’s?


Previously we’ve discussed how someone with Asperger’s Syndrome may also have ADHD and/or Narcissism. Another personality disorder that many are not aware of is Schizotypal Personality Disorder. (This is not the same as Schizoid Personality Disorder or Schizophrenia, although it can be mistaken for schizophrenia at times).

Schizotypals look a lot like they have ASD in that they have extreme levels of anxiety, often learn to mimic appropriate social behavior, have a number of low grade health issues, and are extremely sensitive to criticism. They also tend to be loners because they misread people and develop suspiciousness because they can't properly read the motivations of others.

Here are 10 symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder as listed by the Mayo Clinic:

  1. "Being a loner and lacking close friends outside of the immediate family
  2. Incorrect interpretation of events, feeling that they have personal meaning
  3. Peculiar, eccentric or unusual thinking, beliefs or behavior
  4. Dressing in peculiar ways
  5. Belief in special powers, such as telepathy
  6. Perceptual alterations, in some cases bodily illusions, including phantom pains or other distortions in the sense of touch
  7. Persistent and excessive social anxiety
  8. Peculiar style of speech, such as loose or vague patterns of speaking or rambling oddly and endlessly during conversations
  9. Suspicious or paranoid ideas, hypersensitivity, and constant doubts about the loyalty and fidelity of others
  10. Flat emotions, or limited or inappropriate emotional responses"

Because Personality Disorders cause a person to lack empathy, similarly to our Aspies, we just think the thoughtlessness or negativity is an Aspie trait. While it’s difficult enough to find appropriate treatment for Aspies, it's nearly impossible to treat Personality Disorders because they think they’re normal and are not motivated to make changes.


If you suspect that your Aspie also suffers from a Personality Disorder, then be sure to sign up for our next Video Conference entitled: Is it just Asperger's or is it something else too? on Thursday, March 10, 2016 at 8:00 AM or Thursday, Mar 24, 2016 at 4:00 PM We’ll be specifically discussing Schizotypal Personality Disorder.



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