CONTACT MY OFFICE:
(503) 222-6678 - Portland, Oregon
(360) 256-0448 Vancouver, Washington
   info@kmarshack.com

Therapy

ADD & ADHD
ADOPTIVE FAMILIES
ASPERGER & MARRIAGE
COUPLES IN BUSINESS
DEPRESSION & STRESS
ENTREPRENEURIAL LIFE
EXPAT ONLINE THERAPY
HIGH CONFLICT DIVORCE
MARRIAGE COUNSELING
MIND & BODY HEALTH
PARENTING
PERSONAL GROWTH
RECOMMENDED LINKS
NEWS CENTER
ONLINE STORE
Overview
ADD in Adults
Parenting a Child with ADD
Overview
Articles
Overview
Coping with Anxiety Disorders
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Overcoming Depression
Managing Stress
Conquering Fears & Phobias
Overcoming Social Phobia
Overview
Couples at Work & Home
Dual Career Couples
Families in Business
Overview
Recognizing High Conflict Divorce
Overview
Conflict & Communication
Infidelity
Couples at Work & Home
Love, Sex & Intimacy
Maintaining Strong Marriage
Dual Career Couples
Codependence
Advice for Singles Only
Overview
Alcoholism Recovery
Stop Smoking
Weight Control
Headache Relief
Holistic Health
Managing Blood Pressure
Releasing Unresolved Stress
Overview
Am I a Good Parent
Blended Families
Gifted Child
Coping with ADD/ADHD
Adoptive Families
Overview
Gifted Adults
When to Seek Help
Psychotherapy Options
Laid-Off from Work
Overview
Calendar of Events
Media Coverage
Newsletter
Press Center
Seminars
Related New Stories
Subscribe
Sample
Enriching Your Live Archive
Entrepreneurial Couples Archive

Enriching Your Life!

Sign up for my FREE newsletter! Get practical tips for you and your family.

Kathy Marshack News

Why Women with Asperger’s Syndrome Don’t Fit In

Friday, September 18, 2015


women with aspergers don't fit inIt’s a harsh fact that women are valued for who they are, whereas men are valued for what they do. While we may make allowances for the eccentricities of men with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), such as the stereotypical absent-minded professor or geeky software engineer, there are no acceptable and endearing stereotypes for women with AS. This is because women – all women, whether they have careers or work in the home – are val­ued for how well they fit in. Most women sense they need to be pleasant, supportive and caring, or they’re labeled “bossy”, “pushy”, or worse.

 In mapping out the “theory-of-mind network” of the brain, neuroscientists have found that women without Asperger’s score the highest in showing empathy – being able to read a person’s feeling by looking at them. Men without Asperger’s score the next highest. However, studies are showing that women with Asperger’s score a lot worse. In fact they are on the extreme male side of the spectrum. This is called the “extreme male brain” theory of autism. You can read more about this study led by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the ARC at Cambridge University here.

For the woman with Asperger Syndrome this gender impera­tive can be a nightmare. Fitting in is almost the antithesis of Asperger’s Syndrome. How can you fit in when you don’t have “social radar”?

The most important first step for an AS woman is self-accep­tance, which doesn’t come from trying to fit in. Once you and your family can accept that this is the way it is, you can finally move on to develop a structure that you can live with. Here are some ways to achieve self-acceptance:

  • Stop expecting to fit in, but reach out to others who accept your uniqueness.
  • Laugh at your foibles.
  • Explore the little-known world of Asperger’s Syndrome and teach your daughters to navigate the world from the lessons you’ve learned.
  • Believe you have gifts to offer.
  • Develop housekeeping routines and mothering techniques that work for you.
  • Hire as much help as you can afford.

What matters is preserving your self-esteem so that you have time to enjoy your loved ones and they you. Seek the support and guidance of a psychologist who is well versed in the double whammy of dealing with being a woman and having Asperger Syndrome. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

New Video Conference Connects People Who Have Family Members with ASD

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


worldwide asperger syndrome video conference"Know that you are not alone."

This is the underlying message of all of the Asperger Syndrome Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetups since the group was organized over six years ago. Now it’s even more profound since members are talking together from around the world. To my surprise we have grown from a handful of people in Portland, Oregon to an international membership from ever continent.

Are you interested in knowing more about the new format for the worldwide video conference? Here are some frequently asked questions that will help you get acquainted with this new process:

Who may join the calls? Only NT (neuro-typical) members of the Asperger Syndrome Partners & Family of Adults with ASD will be approved to join the video call, as we will be discussing what it’s like to live with an adult on the Autism Spectrum or with Asperger's Syndrome.

How many will be attending at one time? Each video call is limited to Dr. Kathy Marshack plus 10 so the conversation can be more intimate.

Can I attend anonymously? Instead of using your real name, you can use a pseudonym.

Can I attend even if I don’t have a webcam or video capability? The purpose of this small group is to get real, to be seen, heard and understood like you would in an in-person support group. If you don't have video capability or are uncomfortable with this format please join us for one of our teleconferences that can be accessed through your phone.

Will these calls be confidential? Absolutely yes! Dr. Marshack is using a very secure software called Scopia to ensure your confidentiality.

Will I be able to talk with individual parties privately while the call is in progress? Yes, you can have a private text chat with another meetup member or you can talk to the entire group.

Can I use my Smart Phone to access this call? Yes! Check out this page to learn what browser and devices will work.

Will this call be translated into my language? The call will be in English only.

How much does it cost? At the time of this writing, the price is $15 USD per person. This fee is non-refundable.

How do I pay? If you are not able to pay by credit card or PayPal, please call 503-222-6678 to make alternate arrangements.

When should I login to the call? **IMPORTANT** If you have RSVP’d “yes” to the video conference please download the software one or two days ahead of time. This will ensure you’re ready to go when the video conference takes place and can maximize your time.

Depending on when you RSVP, you will receive an email invitation approximately 5-10 business days prior to the video conference date. SAVE THIS EMAIL. It contains a link to join the meeting along with a PIN number. This PIN gives you access into the meeting. Login at least 10 minutes before the conference starts.

Choose the instructions corresponding to your device/internet browser here.

How often will these video conference calls be scheduled? Two calls are scheduled per month to accommodate as many time zones as possible. They are posted for Pacific Time. Check the schedule often to make sure you get in on the topics that interest you. You can use this world clock converter to see how USA – Oregon – Portland time converts to your time.

September Video Conference Calls

Thursday, September 10, 2015 8am PDT Topic: You are not alone.

Friday, September 11, 2015 1:30pm PDT Topic: You are not alone.


Whether you live in the U.S., Scotland, Dubai or New Zealand please join us and learn that you are not alone. Regardless of culture or country, I have found that living with an Aspie adult (spouse, child, parent, etc) feels the same. It can be confusing, heartbreaking, crazy making, amusing, stressful, enlightening and more.

5 Ways to Make Back-to-School Anxieties Disappear

Monday, August 17, 2015


It’s only natural for your child to feel anxious about the new school year. And if your children have ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), AS (Asperger's Syndrome), or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) they need extra help to transition into the new routine. Yes, it might be tempting to put off back-to-school preparations, however the more you prepare your child the easier it will be on you, your child and the teachers. Here are a few reminders to make this process easier…

Be Positive
You can help ease their worries by always speaking positively about returning to school. Get them excited about that they’re going to learn. Help them remember what they enjoyed from previous years.

Make Appointments Early
Does your child need to see his doctor, dentist, or optometrist? How about teachers and administrators you need to talk with before school starts? It relieves a lot of stress to get these appointments taken care of well before the school year starts.

Get into the School Routine
Routine is so important for children with ASD and ADD. A month before school starts, review class materials that your child likes for a scheduled time each day, gradually increasing the time and adding more difficult materials so your child transitions from the carefree summer to the classroom structure. Also gradually shift wake up time and bedtime to match what your child needs to function well at school.

Involve Your Child in Back-to-School Preparation
Let them go school shopping with you so they can pick out things they like. Work together as you assemble their backpacks. Talk about what they’d like to eat for lunch and snacks. And the night before school starts, help them lay out the clothes they want to wear.

Visit the School
Introduce your child to as many people as possible – the teacher, principal, office staff, school nurse, teacher assistants, custodians. Alert them to your child’s special needs and how they can assist you.

I really recommend that you 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.

For additional back to school and safety tips, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics - Back To School Tips. My website also has information about Parenting a Child with ADD.

Dinosaurs, Asperger’s and a Mother’s Love

Wednesday, August 05, 2015


dinosaurs autism and a mother's loveAs parents when we have children who are challenged in some way, we will go to great lengths to take care of them. A New York Times article on excavating dinosaur fossils from the Grand Staircase monument called the Kaiparowits Plateau flooded my mind with memories…


When my autistic daughter was a teen, I took her to three North American Paleontology Conferences so that she could earn science credits for high school. She was terrified in public school because she was tormented by other students. But she loved paleontology and felt comfortable around the scientists because she could converse very knowledgeably on the topic of her "special interest”.

I had called Dr. Jere Lipps, paleontology professor at the University of California at Berkeley and he’d graciously told me that my daughter was more than welcome. She received an award for being the youngest participant. I was very proud of her—even though she’d needed a dose of Klonopin (an anti-anxiety drug) to make it through each day.

Here’s an excerpt from my book, Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD), which tells of the experience:

“In a dimly lit motel room, I sit in front of my laptop, uploading photos from the day’s exploration on the Oklahoma prairie. Next to me, sprawling on her bed is my 15-year-old daughter. She’s reading a novel, her usual pastime. She is re-reading Raptor Red. She loves this book so much, and reads it so often, that she’s literally worn it out. I have bought her more than one copy to keep her happy…

By day we sight dinosaur tracks permanently etched into rock where millions of years ago a mighty river dried up and created mud flats, the perfect medium for storing ancient footprints. On another day, we follow our guides past fences and “No Trespassing” signs to witness evidence of dinosaur nests with bits of fossilized eggshell still scattered on the ground.

Amazingly. I take most of the photos, because my daughter is mesmerized by the experience. She needs the photos to document the field trip for school credit. As usual, I remain the “responsible party,” a trait of helicopter mothers the world over. She’s the youngest member of the expedition and kind of an honorary member since most participants are professional paleontologists, graduate students, or adults with an amateur’s passion. In true helicopter mother fashion, I’d searched high and low for a way to leverage my daughter’s interest in paleontology and art into a high school science credit. I had to be inventive in those days since there were no educational programs for “twice exceptional” kids at the time (i.e. Asperger Syndrome and gifted).

I am uploading pictures from the camera, picking out the best shots and inserting them into a PowerPoint presentation. It is her task to write a description of each photo. That will be a test of her paleontological knowledge as well as a test of her limited patience. She complains that she is tired. She complains that she is hungry. She complains that she can’t remember anything. She complains about me and my helicoptering. With enough coaxing and bribes of snacks from the hotel canteen machines, she finishes the PowerPoint for that day. We celebrate by calling Dad and her sister to say, “Good night.” Then we fall into bed exhausted.”

Perhaps you recognized this scenario in your life. I enjoyed sharing these experiences with my daughter. Yet I wish I had had someone to guide me through these trying times. That’s why I’m so happy to tell you that we’re almost ready to start the new international video conferences for families of those with ASD! It’s going to be wonderful getting to talk with you face-to-face. I’ll give you more details soon.
Out of Mind Out of Sight Parenting with a partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD)

Exploring the Link between Cesarean Births and Autism

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


link between autism spectrum disorder ASD and cesarean birth C-SectionsMuch research is being done on the long-term affect of cesarean section deliveries. They’ve discovered that children born by C-section have fewer good gut bacteria, which makes them more prone to asthma, allergies, Celiac Disease, or Crohn Disease.

Researchers once again link C-sections with autism in a way that might surprise you. According to Autism Speaks, “the largest-ever study of a suspected link between cesarean delivery and autism confirms an association but suggests that it’s due to a shared trigger. In other words, the C-section procedure itself does not appear to increase the risk that a child will develop autism. Rather, one or more common, underlying factors may increase the likelihood for both.”

A recent study reported on in the JAMA Psychiatry confirms previous findings that “children born by C-section are approximately 20% more likely to be diagnosed as having ASD. However, the association did not persist when using sibling controls, implying that this association is due to familial confounding by genetic and/or environmental factors. “

They conclude that C-section doesn’t cause autism. Rather some unknown genetic or environment factor is responsible for increasing the risk for both autism and C-section.

The hope is that with continued research scientists will find out why autism is so prevalent. According to the latest estimates from CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, about 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

While this research is fascinating, if you have a loved one that has been diagnosed with ASD you will also benefit from learning how science is unlocking the key to understanding Asperger behavior. My book, Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD), explores the science behind Asperger’s. If you want to understand your Aspie better, this is a must read.



Is Misplaced Guilt in Your Relationship Ruining Your Happiness?

Monday, July 20, 2015


misplaced guilt in your asperger ASD relationship ruining your happinessGuilt is a powerful and useful emotion when it moves us to right a wrong. For example, we apologize when we make a mistake or fail to follow through on a promise, because we realize we’ve hurt someone and want to restore good relations. Most of the time, guilt is a moral compass that tells us when an action is right or wrong.

However, feelings of guilt can become one of the biggest saboteurs to our happiness. I’ve seen this to be especially true for those in a relationship with an Aspie partner. Since those with ASD struggle with empathy they probably don’t realize their actions foster extreme guilt that makes their partner feel unworthy of being happy. Yet sadly this is often the case in an Asperger/Neuro-Typical relationship. Why?

It's a common theme for many dealing with stressful relationships to feel guilty for even the smallest of mistakes. They become hypersensitive, feeling as if these mistakes actually contributed to the major problems they’re having with their spouse. But it's just not reasonable, especially when you know that friends can forgive you for your faux pas and character defects.

It's a survivor trait to feel excessively guilty. It keeps us searching for solutions. As a form of codependency, guilt insures that you will take more than your share of responsibility for the problem and continue searching for answers long after there’s no point.

Guilt also keeps alive the hope that all is not lost. In others words, if you believe it's your fault, then all you have to do is correct the error and all will be right in the world again.

The problem comes when your Aspie accepts none of the responsibility and you do the opposite. How can that ever work? This hugely important topic will be discussed at our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Teleconference on Friday, July 24th at 2:30pm. We’ll uncover why you feel guilty in your relationship and how you can set yourself free. I hope you can join us.

Should Autistics Drive a Car?

Thursday, July 02, 2015


should those with autism spectrum disorder drive a carThere are so many things that Neuro Typicals (those without Autism Spectrum Disorder) take for granted. For example, it’s usually not a big thing when your spouse takes the wheel, unless he or she is a really bad driver. And even when your teen first gets behind the wheel of the car and starts driving, you may be only a little apprehensive.


But when you’re dealing with someone who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, this situation can become filled with anxiety. And when you add to the mix a divorce and your ASD ex is allowed free reign to drive your children, it can become a nightmare.

Drexel University has published its first study on the driving behaviors in adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. They asked those with ASD how they felt about driving. They found that many regulate their own driving. For instance, some won’t drive on the freeway while others won’t drive at night.

The A.J. Drexel Autism Institute is funding further research. In the next phase, the team is using driving simulation in Dr. Maria Schultheis’ lab to examine actual driving performance of adults on the autism spectrum. If you’re interested in enrolling in these studies, contact schultheis@drexel.edu.

Interactive Autism Network points out the many with higher functioning autism can drive safely if they’re given extensive training. Processing the big picture of multiple events rather than focusing on one detail at a time is one challenge they must overcome. As well as staying calm and not getting overwhelmed and shutting down in stressful circumstances.

New York Times also reports on the challenges of driving with Asperger's. Parent of ASD teens are concerned about “their ability to concentrate, to understand nonverbal communication and to handle the unexpected.” Their rigidity in obeying the rules may cause them to lack flexibility in emergency situations. Some autistic adults have terrible road rage when other drivers violate the rules.

All of these articles stress the importance of personalized training so those with ASD can drive safely if they choose to do so. Is this an issue in your home? Would you like an objective professional to give you feedback on your concerns? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office so we can schedule an appointment and assess your situation.

For further information: Remote Education on Asperger Relationships.

How will Your Divorce Affect Your Children with ASD

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


how does divorce affect my child who has AutismSo many marriages end in divorce. This is especially true when there’s a daily strain from the special needs of autistic children. While I can’t determine how many special needs children have been affected by divorce in Oregon and Washington, I did find the following statistics:

During the first six months in 2015, Oregon has processed 3,098 divorces involving children 18 years of age or younger. Current Washington State statistics are not yet available. We do know that during 2013, Washington State processed 25,395 divorces and annulments.

This means that the potential is high for these extremely vulnerable children to be exposed to Divorce Court or child custody hearings. And while the judge and attorneys try to make decisions in the best interests of these children, they often apply rulings to autistic children that actually may harm them.

Take for example a Psychology Today article by Chantal Sicile-Kira. She discusses an example where custody of a child is usually split 50/50 with each parent. People knowledgeable about Autism and Asperger's Syndrome have shown that breaking an ASD child’s routine and structure is detrimental to him or her. Of course, the Family Court System knows that all children need structure and routine, and they have a set of standards that meet the basic needs. Yet they are often unaware that this basic structure is not nearly sufficient to meet the needs of autistic children.

The court system has found it helpful to enlist the expertise of psychologists specializing in Autism and Asperger's Syndrome to give testimony as to the best interests for these children. These trained professionals help the judges and attorneys understand the critical importance of the special needs and practical ways these special needs can be met.

The Psychology Today article also provided three vital questions to ask a prospective attorney if you’re faced with a divorce or child custody hearing:

  • “Do you have any experience with divorce involving special needs children, in particular autism and Asperger’s Syndrome?”
  • “In past cases, have you been able to convince the Judge to take the child’s special needs into account when considering ‘the best interest of the child’?”
  • “Are you aware of the complex needs of a child with autism as they grow older, and how these complex needs should be considered in the Matrimonial Settlement Agreement?”

Are you facing a Divorce Court or custody battle in the near future? Please seek the assistance of a mental health professional who can help your children adjust to their new circumstances, as well as help the Court understand your child’s special needs.

I’m licensed in psychology and social work, so I can provide this service for families in Oregon and Washington. I’m eager to educate and consult with those in the legal profession so they can make the best decisions for children with ASD. Please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Also check out my Remote Education on Asperger's Syndrome.

Do You Need Empathy in order to Love?

Wednesday, June 03, 2015


empathy plus love means husbands and wives show their feelings through words and actionsAre you in a relationship where you intellectually know that your partner loves you, but in day-to-day living there’s just not the emotional connection, affectionate physical touch or even conversation? Perhaps your spouse even gets angry when you express emotions? This is the life neuro-typicals live with their Asperger mates.

Is it possible to love if you don't have empathy? Is it possible to feel loved by your partner who may have an empathy disorder? Is it truly a loving experience if your ASD partner feels love in his or her heart but doesn’t share it with you?

I think of love as a verb rather than a noun. As an action, love is not really love unless it is shared, accepted and returned. This is the loving flow we have all experienced when we are in the presence of someone with empathy. Even if there are many other types of love, such as love of God and Country, or love of a book or favorite past time, the type of love that hangs up Asperger/NT relationships is the loving exchange between two people who empathize with each other.

Many Aspies are offended by the notion that they aren’t capable of love. Of course they’re capable of love, but it feels differently to those of us with empathy. One Aspie told me that she believes she has empathy because she feels love for family and friends and feels very comfortable in their presence. However, she seems totally unaware of how these loved ones feel in her presence. In other words, the love is in her heart but not shared. And as long as her loved ones make her feel comfortable, it ends there. She is puzzled that people pull away from her from time to time, and chalks it up to the belief that people just don't like to be around a depressed Aspie.

We can't discuss this topic too much because empathy is the center pin to everything Aspie. Please join us during the next Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Teleconference. It will be help on Friday, June 26th at 2:30pm. Your relationship may be troubled, but there is hope.

Learn more on my website: Asperger Syndrome and Relationships.

Big Announcement! Video Conferences for Partners & Family of Adults with ASD

Monday, June 01, 2015


Dr Kathy MarshackYou may have noticed that there isn’t a Portland Asperger Meetup scheduled for June (There is going to be a teleconference.) and you may be wondering why.


 Well, I’ve got great news! Our international teleconferences have gone so well, I’ve decided to provide monthly video calls too.

We’ll cover similar topics, but you’ll have the chance to interact more with each other, "face to face," because I’m limiting the participants to 10. Only our Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD members may attend these video calls so you’ll be able to speak freely, knowing you’ll receive understanding and support. These video conferences are totally confidential too, as I use a HIPAA compliant software (not Skype).

Instructions on how to sign up and attend will be posted at our Meetup site. However, it's pretty simple. If you have a computer and Internet access, you can participate. Plus my assistant is available to answer technical questions.

The fee for the video conferences is very affordable, since I’m giving a special discount for our members only. It’s a small fraction of my usual fee of $75 per 20-minute video call. This fee is collected to help partially defray the costs. Because I’m busy developing this new service over the summer I won't host any Portland, face-to-face Meetups. However, we’ll continue the international conference calls during the summer. Just check the schedule for date, time and topic.

I hope you’re as excited as I am about the new program. Come over to my Facebook page and let me know if you’re interested. I’m anxious to hear what you think.

Not a member of our Meetup yet? If you’re a Neuro-typical person who has a family member with ASD and you’d like support in coping and improving your situation, then you qualify to join our meetup. Click here to learn how to join for free.

Do you have something you need to talk with me about personally? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can find a solution to your problem. If you live out of the area you can take advantage of remote education – learn more here.



Recent Posts RSS


Tags


Archive