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Kathy Marshack News

Did You Grow Up with a Asperger Parent?

Monday, July 02, 2012


Asperger Syndrome is a high functioning form of autism. This diagnosis can sometimes go unnoticed and the individual is classified as being "different" or "unusual." Times are changing and more and more are recognizing that they either have Asperger Syndrome or that their spouse or parent have Asperger's. Either way, adjusting to this realization is challenging.

Did you grow up with an Aspie parent? How did being raised in an Asperger environment affect you? As a licensed psychologist who specializes in working with neuro-typicals or NT's (a term given to non-Aspie's), I have found this to be a unique situation and I do not mean that lightly. This is especially true of those raised by an Aspie parent. I have found that these individuals feel like they do not fit in the typical NT world or in the Aspie world yet they are sensitive to both. They crave an emotional connection with their parent, but feel convinced that nobody will truly understand who they are. What a conundrum!

You are not alone if you have felt this way before. I am overwhelmed by the response I have received from many NT's with Aspie parents. Connecting with others who have been in your shoes will not only provide comfort in an uncomfortable situation, but may help you to learn more about yourself. Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Support Group is an excellent medium for any who find themselves in this situation. Please join us for our monthly Meet Up if you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area. We will be meeting on July 21, 2012 to discuss what it is like being raised by an Asperger parent. If you are unable to attend, please visit on online page and become a member. The online support is incredible.

For more information on Asperger Syndrome, visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions.

New Drugs in the Works for Treating Autism

Thursday, June 21, 2012


This week a deal is in the works between a Swiss pharmaceutical company, Roche, and Seaside Therapeutics. They are planning on developing treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder and Fragile X Syndrome. Even though these disorders are different, they share similar symptoms. The anticipation for a drug to alleviate symptoms of ASD or Fragile X are high. Another company, Novartis, is also working on a similar drug. To learn more about these companies and their plans, read Competitors Form Partnership to Develop Autism Drug.

Time will tell if these types of treatments will prove to be effective or not. Whenever you are dealing with taking medication, it is always important to discuss it thoroughly with your doctor. Often times, medication can be abused or used incorrectly. Look for a mental health care professional who specializes in these types of developmental disorders. There are many therapy options that can work in conjunction with medication.

To learn more about these therapies, visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions and Psychotherapy Options.

Sweat the Small Stuff When Co-Parenting With an Asperger Partner

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Have you ever heard the expression, "Don't sweat the small stuff?" I'm sure you have. Sadly this expression does not work if you are co-parenting with an Asperger partner. (Asperger Syndrome is a high form of autism. Common symptoms include lack of empathy, impaired use of nonverbal behavior to regulate social behavior, and lack of social and emotional reciprocity. For more information, visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions)

When you are in a relationship with an Aspie and co-parenting, your life is turned upside down every day because of the "small stuff." Small stuff is the problem and if you ignore it, it may lead to dire consequences. What can you do to work through this problem? Learn to attend to the things that you can and let the rest go. Easier said than done, right?

You may not be able to change the situation you are in, but you can change how to react or respond. In order to do this in a healthy and positive way, you must take care of yourself. Learn all that you can about Asperger Syndrome. Doing this will help you somewhat to detach from emotional distress you face while dealing with the small things. Also, take out a little time for yourself every day. That may sound impossible, but if you do not, you will spiral down into a dark place and then who will be there for your family? So, prioritize and drop the rest.

My upcoming book is entitled, Parenting with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Mind, Out of Sight. A FREE sample chapter is available for download. You can also checkout my AAPC bestseller, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?, which focuses on relationships and marriage with an Asperger partner.

If you live in the area you can join me May 19, 2012 at 1:00 PM in Portland, Oregon for the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Support Group. We will be discussing, "Would we marry them again?"

Autism Awareness Month is April

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Even though the month of April will be ending very soon, I wanted to remind all of you that April is Autism Awareness Month. The Autism Society has been celebrating this since the 1970's. Some of the latest statistics are staggering. With an increase of 10% in the last 40 years, 1 in 88 American children are being diagnosed with a form of autism. Studies also find that more boys are being diagnosed than girls, a ratio of 5 to 1.

Even though there is still much to uncover about this puzzling neurodevelopmental disorder there is also much that has been accomplished. For instance, while it is still unclear as to what causes autism, great strides have been made in regards to treating autism. One that I have found to be particularly interesting was the use of electronics like iPads.

We also have seen many "heroes" who have made it their aim to do what they can to make a difference. I recently wrote about Joseph Sheppard who has been diagnosed with a high functioning form of autism called Asperger Syndrome. He is working to give people with ASD a better future. This is just one example of the many. There are doctors, teachers, parents, and many others who are using their circumstances to make a difference.

As another Autism Awareness comes and goes, think about all the people who are working hard for this disorder. If you know any of them personally, take a moment to thank them for their hard work. If your circumstances allow, look into how you can make a difference. Every little bit helps!

Find Support After Divorcing Your Asperger Spouse

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Divorce is a touchy subject and even more so when one partner has Asperger Syndrome. Since Asperger Syndrome is a high-functioning form of autism, their relationships and marriages are more challenging. This is not to say that divorce is inevitable but it requires a high level of commitment from both partners.

Why are relationships difficult for Aspies? Reciprocity is a vital part to any healthy relationship, but is usually lacking in an Asperger marriage. What I mean by reciprocity is connecting to the interior life of your loved one and sharing their interior life. An Aspie/Neuro-typical (NT or without Asperger Syndrome) couple are often described as like two insulated wires wrapped around each other . . . touching but not connecting. Because of the lack of reciprocity, divorce is common.

The aftermath of divorcing an Aspie can be devastating. In order to cope with this aftermath, you must learn to be brave, strong, and resolute. One of the best ways to do this is alongside others who have done the same. A support group provides a regular structure to help you navigate through the shock, guilt, and sadness that you may experience after you divorce your Aspie spouse. This type of support group is the only place where you can surely find a level of compassion, understanding, and support that you will so desperately need.

On April 21, 2012 1:00 PM in Portland, Oregon the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of ASD Adults will be meeting to discuss, "Divorce and Asperger Syndrome: A Dangerous Topic." This Meetup will no doubt be a difficult topic to discuss, but it will be highly therapeutic. I encourage as many as possible to attend. If you cannot, feel free to log onto our Meetup page and join our online community.

For more information on Asperger Syndrome and relationships, my book Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge is available for purchase or click here to download a free sample chapter.

A Unique Take on an Autism Diagnosis

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


The Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) published the latest autism statistics last week. According to the report, 1 in 88 American children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This includes high-functioning forms of autism such as Asperger Syndrome. Compared to statistics 10 years ago, there has been a 78 % increase. The reasons for this increase is unknown, but greater autism awareness is sure to play a part. Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder. The range of severity on the autism spectrum is expansive. To learn more about high-functioning autism or Asperger Syndrome, click here.

CNN.com posted a fascinating profile of a 42 year old man with high-functioning autism named Joseph Sheppard. I thought this profile was worth writing about because of the attitude Joseph has regarding his disorder. After being diagnosed just six years ago, Joseph finally received clarity. He expressed that he felt his behaviors were a bit odd. Now he had the missing piece to the puzzle.

What impresses me most about Joseph is the fact that he chose to take his diagnosis and run with it. Instead of feeling stuck with a label, he embraced it even referring it to his "inner splendor." Now he is an advocate for others with autism. An excerpt from CNN Profile, Joseph says, " What I choose to do is change the course of the future for persons with autism, because I believe in them and I believe, given the right support and environment, they will be a strong force in repairing the world."

If you have been diagnosed with high-functioning autism, you can likewise choose to be like Joseph. If you are struggling to adjust to your diagnosis, I recommend seeking help from a mental health care professional who works with autism. Contact my office for more information or visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions.

Asperger Syndrome and True Love

Thursday, March 08, 2012


Love is an interesting emotion. You may think that love would mean the same thing to everyone, but it doesn't. This is especially true for someone with Asperger Syndrome. Asperger Syndrome is a high- functioning form of autism. Asperger Syndrome is demonstrated by deficits in communication, social skills and reciprocity of feelings. Because of this odd display of emotion, you could assume that an Aspie does not love, but that is not true. Everyone loves, it is just expressed differently for an Aspie.

This is the case for two Aspies, Jack Robison and Kirsten Lindsmith. Jack is the son of John Elder Robison, author of the acclaimed memoir about Asperger Syndrome, Look Me in the Eye. Kirsten was diagnosed with ADHD at age 11, but 2011, she realized that she had Asperger Syndrome. Jack and Kirsten have been dating for two years and now live together. According to them, they have found love. This isn't to say it has been a walk in the park for them. There have been challenges. To read more about Jack and Kirsten's relationship, read The New York Times article - Navigating Love and Autism.

If you are raising an Asperger child, I am sure you would agree that you would love for your child to grow up and find the kind of happiness that comes from love. If you are married to someone with Asperger's, you may feel lost and confused as to what love really means to your partner.

There are so many questions surrounding this topic. . . Do Aspie's really want or need true love? What really is true love? This will be the topic for discussion at the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup Support Group. This meeting will be held in Portland, Oregon on March 17. We look forward to having a lively discussion and hearing your thoughts on this very personal topic that is central to the lives of many. If you will not be able to join us in person, become part of our online family.

For more information on Asperger Syndrome, read Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions.

Asperger Syndrome Parenting and Middle Childhood

Friday, February 03, 2012


Think back to when you were 6 or 7 years old. You may not have realized it at the time, but your body was undergoing a profound hormonal change. Scientists refer this time period as the Theory of the Mind. The brain is reaching its adult size while tens of billions of synapses connections are being made. Loads of information is being "downloaded" and organized. Impulses are being controlled, plans for the future are being made as well as intense reasoning ability.

Children at this age also beginning to comprehend deep subjects such as death, justice, social rules, and relationships. In the area of relationships, children in middle childhood start to learn the value of love reciprocity. The selfishness that a toddler once displayed with no longer work. In order to get love and attention from parents, you must give in order to receive. What a valuable lesson to learn at such a young age.

Stop to consider what middle childhood would be like with an Asperger parent(s). Asperger Syndrome is a high functioning form of autism. They have trouble reading non verbal cues, lack empathy, and struggle with communication. Imagine what it would be like to not learn loving reciprocity because of the AS parent’s mind blindness. When that child begins to reach out for love and attention they are often rejected, even if it’s unwittingly. The results of this can have a damaging effect on the child.

In many cases, a child who is raised with an Asperger parent marries someone with Asperger's. This is because your childhood modeled your ideals of marriage. The question then becomes, can you change the pattern after all of these years? Can you learn to allow true love into your life even if you learned that love is one sided?

The answers to those questions will be discussed at the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adult with ASD Support Group Meetup on February 18, 2012 in Portland, Oregon. If you do not live in the local area, please become a member of our online community and join in on our discussion groups. I would also encourage one-on-one therapy with a therapist specialized in Asperger relationships. Contact my office for more information.

If you would to learn more about middle childhood, I recommend the New York Times article - Now We Are Six - The Hormone Surge of Middle Childhood.

A Word of Encouragement to Neuro-Typical's With Aspie Partners

Saturday, December 17, 2011


When Asperger Syndrome is part of a couple’s relationship the challenges easily mount. The neurotypical (NT) partner often ends up feeling misunderstood, frustrated, isolated and unloved. These negative emotions can create a perfect recipe for guilt. Which is why it’s critical that NTs erase the guilt!

The reason I say this is because many NTs that I’ve worked with report feelings of guilt. Guilt can come in different forms. Some say they have an excruciatingly difficult time staying or leaving their Aspie partner. Even more amazingly, many NTs report that years after their divorce, they are still grieving even though they don't really miss their former partner . . . exactly. What is this about? Behind unremitting grief is often guilt regarding the unresolved marital problems.

You must learn to give yourself the gift of forgiveness and acceptance. If you learn anything from the experts around the world, they all agree that living and loving a partner with Asperger Syndrome is extremely challenging and often times exhausting. At times the NT partner becomes so distraught that they engage in all kinds of irrational behavior. Instead of guilt or any other negative emotion, give yourself the gift of love, forgiveness, and acceptance and possibly even a huge Badge of Courage.

What are some practical ways to do this? Join a support group, spend some quality time with a friend, exercise, or do whatever you like to do to recharge. Just do me a favor, try it! I guarantee that you will feel much better. For more information about how to cope with an Aspie partner, download a free sample chapter of my book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?

Family of People with Asperger Syndrome: How to Combat Chronic Stress

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Chronic stress is a serious health concern. Many do not realize that if stress is not managed, the side effects can be severe. Chronic stress increases the risk of heart problems, strokes, susceptibility to infections and gastrointestinal problems. Stress can also affect weight. Some people suffer a loss of appetite and lose weight while others develop cravings for salt, fat, and sugar to counteract tension and end up gaining weight. Tension-type headache episodes are highly associated with stress. The tensions of unresolved stress can also frequently cause insomnia, generally keeping the stressed person awake or causing awakening in the middle of the night or early morning. Stress also has significant effects on the brain, particularly on memory. The typical victim of severe stress suffers loss of concentration at work and at home and may become inefficient and accident-prone.

If you have a loved one with Asperger Syndrome, you may be suffering from chronic stress. My advice to you is to take some time for "self-care." It's difficult to sometimes take time for ourselves, but it is necessary. Think about it this way, if you do not take care of yourself, it will be impossible to take care of others especially for your Aspie loved one. Self-care is different for every individual. For some it may be a trip to a massage therapist or a chiropractor. For others it may be reading a good book, taking a hot bath, or going for a run. Whatever it is, do it! Do not delay.

If taking a little "me" time is not lowering your stress level, you may need a more aggressive approach. I highly recommend therapy which will help you to learn valuable coping mechanisms. For more information, visit Managing Stress and Asperger Syndrome Support.

If you live in the Portland, Oregon area, I invite you to join the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD. On November 19, 2011 at 1:00 PM, we will be discussing "Adrenal Failure." Come prepared with your self-care tips.


Click here to learn more about my book Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?



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