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Kathy Marshack News

Does Your Love Relationship Feel One-Sided? 10 Signs it Is!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


My Neuro-Typical clients describe their relationships with their Autistic loved ones as feeling one-sided.

When you fell in love with your life partner, you, no doubt, had expectations that your emotional and physical needs would be met. As you got to know each other, you opened up and talked. You were on your way to building emotional intimacy. When you began a life together, you felt loved and wanted. But what do you do when your life dramatically changes on you? Is there any way to cope when you feel like you’re married to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?


That’s the life many of my Neuro-Typical clients live. They often describe their relationships with their Autistic loved ones as feeling one-sided. It’s odd isn’t it that our Aspies don’t feel the same way? As long as their needs are met, they don’t seem to notice that we’re lonesome, sad, or frustrated. Worse, when we try to explain how we feel, they draw a blank look or get defensive. Once again it’s one-sided…and not in our favor.

So how do you know if you’re in a one-sided relationship?

  1. You have to initiate conversation.
  2. Your partner takes, without giving.
  3. You give up your friends for his or quit socializing altogether.
  4. You apologize for things you shouldn’t have to.
  5. You’re always soothing ruffled feathers.
  6. You justify his behavior to friends and family.
  7. You never feel peace, but you’re always walking on egg shells.
  8. You’re made to feel like you’re a burden or an afterthought.
  9. You’re loving gestures aren’t reciprocated.
  10. You feel alone.

Feeling like your relationship is one-sided doesn’t necessarily mean your partner doesn’t care about you, in his or her own way. Lack of empathy is the reason for this one-sidedness, but that reason isn’t comforting is it? Instead we need tools for interacting with our Aspies, since they aren’t wired to connect. We also need tools to keep from going crazy over these one-way relationships.

One of the necessary tools is our Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, where you can at least connect with others who get it. Support is essential to your mental health. But there are other more direct tools too. There are ways to problem solve with your ASD loved ones, even if their default mode is one-way.

If this topic interests you, and you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, please make plans to attend our Video Conference: “One-Way Relationships.” It will be held on both Tuesday, October 2nd and Thursday, October 11th. Let’s explore all of your options.

If you prefer one-on-one counseling, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Love Versus Logic - Why Simple Conversations with Aspies go Awry

Monday, August 27, 2018


Contributing toward the communication gap between those with aspergers and their neuro-typical partners is the Love VS Logic conversation styles.As a parent, you want a happy and healthy home for your family. And your Aspie partner does too. But when it comes to discussing a specific area that needs attention, your Aspie partner takes your comments as a direct criticism of his or her identity as a good marriage mate and parent. So right away defensive explanations begin to fly, and, before you know it, it’s turned into an all-out argument. How did it go so wrong? All you wanted was to open a dialogue and start a conversation.

No wonder it's such a jumble with our Aspies when we try to have a simple conversation. You’re nowhere near being on the same page. You’re assessing everything first from an empathic perspective, which requires tuning into your feelings and the feelings of the other. Your Aspie, on the other hand, is focused on the logic.

Of course, love doesn't lack logic, but we start with love to prepare the space for our conversation. Logic comes second. But not so with Aspies. There often is no second tier for Aspies; it's logic all of the way. It's not that your Aspie has no emotions. It's that they don't use them to assess their interaction with you. Logic is easier and simpler. As a result, they miss the nuances that logic doesn’t assess.

If you want to understand your Aspie, listen to the logic and stop searching for the nuance. You might even disregard the nuance entirely, since your Aspie may inadvertently use the wrong tone or gesture, which only confuses the communication. And certainly don't expect them to integrate your nuances into the meaning of your logic.

Don’t give up hope. It's not as complicated as it sounds.

If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, please sign up for the low cost video conference: Love VS Logic. It will be held on September 4th and again on September 18th. I'll help guide you through this conversation gap, so you better understand your logical Aspie.

If you prefer 1:1 counseling and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy, if that works best for your busy schedule.

Can Autistics Tell Lies?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


all people lie, but how Autistics lie is unique. It’s that uniqueness that gums up our relationships. I am not sure who started the rumor that those with ASD don’t lie, and even that they are incapable of lying. Clearly this is not true. Sadly, all people lie, but how Autistics lie is unique. It’s that uniqueness that gums up our relationships.

Without empathy, Autistics lie similarly to psychopaths, although Autistics don't have the ruthless intent. They aren't considering how we will feel when they lie to us. They aren't even considering a "smooth" way to lie. They just lie to avoid confrontation, anxiety, being wrong, or any number of reasons the rest of us may lie.


When confronted with their lies autistics have a variety of defenses that mimic psychopaths too.

  • They tell us they "never said that." 
  • They elaborate the lie. 
  • They change the subject. 
  • They ignore us. 
  • They even lie when the truth would work better. 

What's with that?

It might just be that they need help with what I call the Rules of Engagement. They don't always have the social awareness that lying will cause harm to the relationship. Once they get this, they try harder. This is a tough subject, so I have reserved it for a small group of people who sign up for the Video Conference, “Yes! Aspies do lie” held on September 11th and again on September 25th. Together we’ll get a handle on this.

If you would rather work in-person with me, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works better for you.

End of Summer Survival Skills

Monday, July 23, 2018


If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, July and August are beautiful summertime months! When you were a child, I bet you thought of summer as a time to rest, play and be free of the structure of school. But as an adult with responsibilities, it’s not so easy anymore, is it? Especially is this so, if you have Aspergers, a high functioning form of Autism, in your family.

The changes in routine make Aspies more anxious and more demanding. But we still need to find time for ourselves. What are you planning for this summer? Unless you purposefully carve out time for some R and R, it won’t happen. Here are some suggestions:


  • sign up for a yoga retreat,
  • go river rafting,
  • take a painting class,
  • go to the coast and walk on the beach,
  • enjoy an outdoor concert,
  • become a stargazer, or
  • take some mornings off to read a book at your favorite coffee shop.

And if you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, please sign up for the low cost video conference: “End of Summer Survival Skills,” on Tuesday, July 31st. This video call is all about nurturing yourself. Come to the call with ideas and questions about self care. No doubt you used to take time for yourself. You need to do so again. It's the key to taking back your life from our demanding Aspies.

Personally, I like to take off the month of August to regroup, reassess and relax. So this will be our last call of the season before September. Behind the scenes, I’ll be working on some exciting new things I hope to share with you soon.

Here’s a sneak peak…I’ve teamed up with AAPC (the largest publisher of books on autism) to bring you the most up-to-date resources on Asperger Syndrome (ASD). Pssst…I’m going to be doing a video blog for them! I’m excited and a bit nervous at the same time.

NOTE: If you didn’t catch my email to the Meetup group, I’m asking for your suggestions to make our membership site more user friendly. Please come over to my Facebook page and share any suggestions you might have.

If you can’t relax because life’s stresses are too overwhelming, perhaps it’s time to reach out for some professional help. If you determine that you need assistance and live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Read more on my website: Managing Stress.

Resilience – The Key to Living Happily Ever After

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


While it’s not possible to have a “happy ever after” life, you can drastically improve your odds by developing resilience. “…and they lived happily ever after.” All the good love stories end with these words or at least this sentiment, don’t they? We long for happy endings, because, if it’s possible for someone else, it’s possible that we can live happily ever after, too.

Okay, I know that fairy tales aren’t real. While life can be blessed and fulfilling, happiness doesn’t come automatically. Every person will face adversity in life. Especially is this so, since we’re living at a unique time in human history. According to the CDC's current data, about 1 in 68 children has been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). So there’s a real possibility that the person you’re in a relationship with today has high functioning autism, formerly known as Asperger Syndrome.

But there is something that can drastically do to improve your odds of having a happy family life. What's the missing ingredient that takes us from victim to victorious? I think the answer is: resilience.


Resilience is built upon a foundation of the following nine characteristics:

Optimism
Self-belief
Emotional awareness
Self-control
Willingness to adapt
Willingness to be flexible
Ability to solve problems
Social support
Sense of humor

Without resilience, we can get so entangled in the Aspie logic that we become a shell of our former self. Resilience is a kind of elastic quality that helps us keep bouncing back, but we must bounce back to our own reality, our own common sense, our own confidence in our empathic ability to see the truth.

Resilience isn't kindness, or codependency, or compassion. It's the ability to recognize almost immediately that our Aspie is making some faulty judgments and that we don't have to accept them. For example,

The resilient person says, "Thank you for your view, but I'm going to do it my way today."

The resilient person recognizes that arguing with your Aspie is futile. It's not that Aspies aren't entitled to argue some arcane idea, but the resilient person accepts that we don't have to be their sounding board, or their humble servant, or their ardent advocate . . . or the loser in the argument.

Do you want to enhance your resilience? If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, please attend the free, international teleconference: “Building Resilience in an ASD/NT Relationship.” It will be held on Thursday, July 19th. We’ll concentrate on learning methods for building resilience. Of particular importance is recognizing early on when you’re slipping. I got so distressed living with three Aspies that I allowed myself to lose my common sense, get angry and wind up in jail! (You can read my story, plus learn techniques for developing resilience and Radiant Empathy, in my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.”) You don't want to let this happen to you.

P.S. If you know of someone who is a NT (neurotypical or non-autism) person in a NT/ASD relationship, please tell them about this Meetup group. It has become a life saver for thousands of people across the globe.

Invite Your Aspie to This Special Meetup Conference

Monday, July 09, 2018


Communicating and connecting with someone who has Asperger’s Syndrome may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Couples’ counseling is one way to facilitate better understanding, because it’s done in an atmosphere that diffuses raw and hurt emotions. Another valuable resource is finding a support group that you and your Aspie can attend together, but that’s easier said than done.     Up to now, my Meetup group, Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD, has been limited to the NT (neurotypical or non-autism) partners in NT/ASD relationships. It’s been a unique resource for this often-forgotten segment of the population. Many of the members express appreciation for the opportunity to find support, as they speak openly about their lives. It’s so important to know you’re not alone.     But I have good news! I’m granting your wish for a Couples Call this month.     Are you ready to invite your Aspie to one of our videoconferences? I’m hosting a special conference for NT/ASD couples. The purpose is to give your Aspie a chance to learn that they are not alone either. They will “meet” others who are living this life and learn how others are coping. This VIDEO CONFERENCE: “Couples Call. Invite your Aspie” will be held on Tuesday, July 17th. Please sign up only if your partner will join you.     Obviously we can’t just dive in and dig into every tender issue. However, I thought we would make it a question and answer format, so that your Aspie can ask questions and hear others’ answers. If they don’t like to ask or don’t know what to ask, I suspect they’ll still come away from the call with some new information.  Don’t be afraid to ask them to participate. Many Aspies are waiting to be asked. They do want to know how you feel. They’re just terrible at asking. Plus their willingness to participate is an emotional gift to you, isn’t it?  Since only members are allowed, your Aspie will need to be in the same room with you to share the call. It also makes it easier for all of us to know who’s a couple.  Pssst…There’s another exciting development underway. I have teamed up with AAPC (the largest publisher of books on autism) to bring you the most up to date resources to help you and your family deal with an adult (and child) with Asperger Syndrome (ASD). My new video blog and other publications will be coming soon. If you don’t want to miss out, please sign up for my newsletter, so you’ll be among the first to be invited in.Communicating and connecting with someone who has Asperger’s Syndrome may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Couples’ counseling is one way to facilitate better understanding, because it’s done in an atmosphere that diffuses raw and hurt emotions. Another valuable resource is finding a support group that you and your Aspie can attend together, but that’s easier said than done.

Up to now, my Meetup group, Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD, has been limited to the NT (neurotypical or non-autism) partners in NT/ASD relationships. It’s been a unique resource for this often-forgotten segment of the population. Many of the members express appreciation for the opportunity to find support, as they speak openly about their lives. It’s so important to know you’re not alone.

But I have good news! I’m granting your wish for a Couples Call this month.

Are you ready to invite your Aspie to one of our videoconferences? I’m hosting a special conference for NT/ASD couples. The purpose is to give your Aspie a chance to learn that they are not alone either. They will “meet” others who are living this life and learn how others are coping. This VIDEO CONFERENCE: “Couples Call. Invite your Aspie” will be held on Tuesday, July 17th. Please sign up only if your partner will join you.

Obviously we can’t just dive in and dig into every tender issue. However, I thought we would make it a question and answer format, so that your Aspie can ask questions and hear others’ answers. If they don’t like to ask or don’t know what to ask, I suspect they’ll still come away from the call with some new information.

Don’t be afraid to ask them to participate. Many Aspies are waiting to be asked. They do want to know how you feel. They’re just terrible at asking. Plus their willingness to participate is an emotional gift to you, isn’t it?

Since only members are allowed, your Aspie will need to be in the same room with you to share the call. It also makes it easier for all of us to know who’s a couple.

Pssst…There’s another exciting development underway. I have teamed up with AAPC (the largest publisher of books on autism) to bring you the most up to date resources to help you and your family deal with an adult (and child) with Asperger Syndrome (ASD). My new video blog and other publications will be coming soon. If you don’t want to miss out, please sign up for my newsletter, so you’ll be among the first to be invited in.

Discover the Patterns of Asperger Communication

Wednesday, July 04, 2018


 Those with Asperger’s Syndrome have patterns of communication. Once we understand these patterns, we can understand our Aspie loved ones better, so our relationships can thrive. The world is full of patterns. And after studying these patterns, people have made some astounding discoveries…not the least of which is the discovery that those with Asperger’s Syndrome have patterns of communication. Once we understand these patterns, we can understand our Aspie loved ones better, so our relationships can thrive. Does this concept excite you as much as it does me? I hope so! Because this is a monumental breakthrough for the NT/AS world.

Once you understand their patterns, you have a better chance of connecting in their world. Their patterns are relatively simple. It’s kind of like algebra or quantitative methods. You just need the right formula.

It took me forever to break the code, because I was trying to understand them from an NT (neurotypical or non-autism) perspective. Once I let go of that notion, I could more easily see the patterns they use to make sense of the world.

It’s like wandering around in a foreign country for a few days. Once you get your bearings, you can read the street signs or a menu, even when you don’t speak the language. We have to do this for our Aspies, because they can’t do this for us.

If you’re to understand, relate and communicate with your Aspie loved one, you will need to be a scientist. We could talk for hours about their patterns…and we’re going to get started at this month’s video conference: Patterns of Aspie Communication on Tuesday, July 10th and Tuesday, July 24th. If you can’t get in to either of these time slots, don’t worry. There will be more to come later. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter so you receive notifications for all of the upcoming conferences.

Would you like to accelerate your understanding of Asperger Communication Patterns by working with me 1:1? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Loving a Partner with Autism: Dr. Kathy Interviewed on Autism Live Show

Tuesday, July 03, 2018


Shannon Penrod and Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson interviewed Dr. Kathy Marshack on their “Autism Live Show”. Recently, Shannon Penrod and Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson interviewed me on their online Autism Live Show. I shared with them that I’m not really an expert on autism, but how I became interested in Asperger Syndrome, when I discovered my 13 year old daughter was on the Spectrum. As any mom would do, I buried myself in the research, educational and treatment options for my daughter Bianca. I later realized that my mother most likely was on the Spectrum, as are other members of my extended family.

During our conversation, they expressed appreciation that my focus is not on autism per se, but on the often forgotten, non-Specrum (or neurotypical family members), and that I strive to help AS/NT families cope and thrive. My work is breaking down the myths and barriers to the crazy stuff that goes on inside these relationships. It’s so hard to combat the loneliness that comes with trying to connect with someone you care deeply for, but it just isn’t working.

Nancy loved the case studies I include in my books, while Shannon loved the Lessons Learned at the end of each chapter. She said, “This is the best advice for any relationship, no matter who the relationship is between. They’re really fabulous guideposts that a lot of us take for granted, but they would be a great thing for a couple to talk through.” Their feedback thrilled me.

Connection and communication are especially challenging for people on the Spectrum. So the NT has to learn new ways of communicating and demystifying the signals.

Radiant Empathy (Em-5) helps you deal with someone with an Empathy Disorder. By building up your ability to be empathic, you become good at taking good care of yourself, setting clear boundaries, and saying “No” when someone is not being respectful of you. This is what makes it possible to deal with people who have trouble connecting. You know their heart is in the right place and you can give them a break, while, at the same time, you have a heightened ability to recognize all the love coming into your life from these relationships. At EmD-5, you clearly have the resources you need to hold dear the feelings of others, while at the same time keeping your personal boundaries clear.

Would you like to learn how to develop your empathic skills to this elevated level? Check out my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you.” Its practical guidance will open your eyes to what it means to be fully human. Or if you’d like to work with me personally and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Listen to my interview on the Autism Live Show: Loving a Partner with Autism.

Why Aspies Always Say NO and What You Can Do About It

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Why do our Aspies always default to a non-committal answer or say NO outright? Insight into this one question can save a lot of hurt feelings. “Are they just being rude? Shouldn’t I be offended?” That's how we feel, when someone ignores us, as we try to talk with them. Being ignored usually signals that something is wrong. But, what about when you converse with those on the Spectrum? Have you noticed that they often break the rules of conversation etiquette?


Sometimes our Aspies say NO! Sometimes they ignore us. Sometimes they resist and walk off — then inexplicably do as asked. What on earth is this about?

A number of years ago, I wrote about how those with Aspergers default to non-committal answers. I used a true-to-life setting where a wife beats around the bush, trying to get her hubby to go on vacation, and the Aspie husband just doesn’t get it. It’s the perfect storm for miscommunication and hurt feelings in a NT/AS relationship.

We have to remember that Aspies have great difficulty with change or spontaneity, much more than the rest of us. A new idea creates tension. In the decision-making process, we have to think it through, examine its relevance to our plans, get past the novelty, build a new paradigm to incorporate the idea, and so much more.

Non-Spectrum people create change fairly easily, even with all of the aforementioned steps, because we aren’t self absorbed. Because we have empathy, we can include the other person in our new paradigm. Into the equation, we incorporate the person asking, how they ask, and the mind of the asker.

On the other hand, Aspies don’t do any of this. Instead they opt for saying “no,” or “I’m not interested.” This buys them time to get away from our demands and to protect themselves from confusion.

There’s much more to learn about this phenomenon. If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, I invite you to the next international, free teleconference: Why do they always say NO! It will be held on Thursday, June 21st. We’ll be building interventions to get past their penchant for saying NO.

If you have questions about this teleconference, you can post them on my Facebook event page or you can post them to the group on the Meetup page. I'm looking forward to seeing you there!

As a reminder, if you’d like to stay up-to-date on all of my articles, make sure you’ve signed up for my Enriching Your Life newsletter.

1st Private Video Conference for Adult Children of Asperger’s Parent

Monday, June 11, 2018


Adult children of Asperger parent(s) have been ignored too long. As a result, they struggle with severe depression and self-esteem problems. Isn’t it ironic? The world is becoming more aware of Autism Spectrum Disorder (a good thing) yet there’s a group of people affected by Asperger’s Syndrome who are still being overlooked and ignored by the world and by their families – the adult children raised by an Asperger parent.

Many adults who have been raised with an Aspie parent are now reporting severe depression and self-esteem problems, because they lived with an Aspie parent who struggled to nurture them and get to know them. With a lack of warmth, tender affection, and communication, a child can feel emotionally rejected by their parent even though they may have all of their physical needs taken care of.

This is not to say that an Aspie parent doesn’t love their child. That is far from the truth. But the communication and relationship deficits confuse the child and can lead to the child feeling unloved. Remember it is the child’s experience that defines the parenting, not whether the AS parent loves their child.

In my own case, I had no idea my mother was an Aspie until many years after her death. I discovered my daughter’s autism first and it was confirmed by a psychiatrist and psychologist. I always thought it odd that my adopted daughter was so much like my mother – until the light bulb went off. A rush of relief and tears swept through me with the realization that I was raised by an Aspie.

So much of my life finally made sense. Mom was this terribly confusing mix of good intentions and abusive parenting. Mom insisted that I eat whole, organic food. Preservatives and sugar were not allowed in our house. Sounds good right? What about using a toothbrush made from boar bristles? No toothpaste either; I had to use baking soda. Still not so bad? What about the fierce tongue lashings I would get when she had her meltdowns and called me ever foul name in the book?

There’s more and I bet you have your own stories too. Our quirky, abusive, brilliant Aspie parents made a lasting impact, didn’t they? Now it’s time to ferret out what it means to be raised by a parent who has Zero Degrees of Empathy – a parent who cannot enter your world and help you discover who you are.

It’s time to take back your life and recreate your own timeline of adult development. Yes, it’s complicated, but together we can do it. Please join me for this private Video Conference for Adult Children of Aspies on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Know that you are not alone. If you have questions about this teleconference, you can post them on my Facebook event page.

NOTE: I know there are others who want to be on this call, because you’re worried about your children being raised by your Aspie co-parent. However, please be respectful of those who are already grown and want to break free to “Be Me!” There will be ample opportunities for us to speak at another time. Thank you.

Learn more about Aspergers: Asperger Syndrome and My Books on AS



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