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Kathy Marshack News

Are You in a Codependent Relationship?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Are you in a codependent relationship? Codependency is the act of sacrificing oneself for the sake of another’s addiction. It is an attitude, a style of living. People become codependent when they consistently allow their own needs and rights to become secondary to another’s needs and rights. This type of relationship can be harmful and its effects can be devastating.

You can identify if you are in a codependent relationship by looking for specific symptoms. Here are some symptoms to lookout for:

· Are you tired and depressed all the time?

· Does it seem you can’t do enough to please your partner, father, girlfriend?

· Are you the only one who cares if things get better?

· Are you getting more and more headaches, backaches, stomach aches?

· Are you sacrificing your good reputation to help someone who doesn’t give back?

· Feel unappreciated?

· Are you relying on food, shopping, alcohol or other drugs to give you a lift?

To break this devastating cycle, it is important for the codependent to recognize that you count just as much as the person you are protecting. Why are your rights as a person or your health less important than theirs? Secondly, by breaking the cycle of codependence, you are giving back, to the addict, responsibility for their behavior. The first step toward your recover and theirs, is accepting responsibility for your own behavior and your own live. After all, how can they get better if you do it for them?

Breaking codependency is extremely difficult to do without help and regular support from others. Psychotherapy, or marital therapy are necessary. You may want to call self-help groups, such as Al-Anon or Codependents Anonymous, both listed in your local directory. If you live in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, WA, please contact my office for an appointment.

For more information, visit Marriage Counseling - Breaking the Cycle of Codependency.

Do Women have Asperger Syndrome?

Monday, April 04, 2011


Yes, women do have Asperger Syndrome (AS). It is true that the bulk of those diagnosed are men, there are many girls and women with AS. Women with Asperger's may lead more complex lives than men with Asperger's. To some extent, males with Asperger’s are more accepted because their behavior is viewed as "extreme male thinking." But women with Asperger Syndrome are viewed as cold, uncaring, and selfish because the cultural expectation is for women to be more aware of the needs of the relationship, something which is extremely difficult for most Aspies.

Men around the world are in relationships with women who have Asperger's. Even though the disorder is the same, there are unique differences between a relationship with an AS woman and an AS man. Just like NT women, NT men need to be able to learn about Asperger Syndrome and be able to talk about their experiences.

In order to fill the need that NT men have, I have created two message boards on the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD webpage specifically for male member. Of course, men do not need to be confined to male only sites, but their experiences are specific and so are their needs. If you are a man in a relationship with a women with ASD or have a family member, please feel free to join our message boards whether it is male only or any others that fit your circumstances.

My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? can be a valuable resource for both men and women in Asperger relationships. Click here to download a free sample chapter.

Mind Blindness and the Disconnect in Asperger Syndrome Relationships

Thursday, March 17, 2011


If you have a loved one with Asperger Syndrome, it is vital that you learn about "mind blindness" or "lack of empathy." This is a key feature of what makes your relationship with the Aspie unique. Mind blindness or lack of empathy is the disconnect between emotional and social cognition. A person with Asperger Syndrome has trouble reading nonverbal clues and therefore ignores the bulk of a conversation. The Aspie knows what they think and feel but are often unaware of what their loved ones think or feel. They become so focused on themselves that it may seem like they don't care or love you, but that is not true. What happens is that they just don't notice.

Mind blindness can have some especially serious side effects on the partner or spouse of someone with Asperger's. Even though their behavior is not intended to hurt you, it still does. Then you may reach out to someone else like a friend, but if they do not understand Asperger's they will most likely not understand what you are going through. Without the right care, low self-esteem, depression, and resentment may settle in deep.

If you find yourself in a relationship that has a lack of empathy, realize you are not alone! Many experience a similar situation. As a psychologist and marriage counselor I recognized that there’s a great need to give guidance to families of adults with Asperger Syndrome. Here are my suggestions for you:

1. Seek out therapy from a professional specializing in Asperger Syndrome. Click here to see my specific therapy recommendations.

2. Join a support group. Click here for tips on how to find one that suits your needs.

3. Educate yourself about Asperger Syndrome. My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge? was written specifically for those in a relationship with someone with Asperger's. My upcoming book is entitled, Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind. A free sample chapter is available for download. I have also compiled a list of books that I have found especially helpful - Recommended Books Part 1 and Recommended Books Part 2.

These suggestions will help you to see more clearly your own situation and take the necessary steps to live a happier, more full-filled life.

Are You a Survivor of Survivors?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


How do you describe a person who has been traumatized by another person's trauma? I would describe them as a "survivor of survivors." Whether it is from PTSD, alcoholism, Asperger Syndrome, or something else, the actions of that person will affect their loved ones, sparking a cycle of re-traumatization. This type of cycle is vicious and harmful to say the least.

It's hard to explain why a person will feel traumatized by the behavior of another person, but those feelings are very real and should not be minimized. If those feelings are not addressed, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem will set in.

The key is to try and stop the cycle so no one else turns into a survivor of survivors. For the cycle to stop, both parties must seek professional help. There are a variety of effective therapies now available. In addition to therapy, joining a support group is an excellent way to gain comfort and strength from those in a similar situation.

If you have a family member with Asperger Syndrome and live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, I invite you to join Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD. On March 19, 2011, we will be discussing "Are You a Survivor of Survivors?" and exploring this topic in detail.

If your loved one is suffering from another type of trauma or disorder, please contact my office for more information. Do not delay in stopping the cycle!

How to Find the Right Support Group

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Joining a support group can feel intimidating. The idea of sharing intimate stories with people you don’t know can make even the most outgoing person anxious. A lot of times, fear of joining can be dispelled by doing your research to see if the group fits you and your needs.
 
Here are a few thing to keep in mind when searching for a support group:
 
Join Online
Many support groups have websites that include the members, message boards, and meeting information. Joining online before going to the group in person will give you some time to get to know the members and their personalities. You can also get a clue as to what they are discussing and see if it will suit your needs. Don't feel bad if it is not a fit. Remember, this is about you and it's okay to be picky!
 
Ask Questions
Contact the group facilitator and ask questions about the group. Think of the questions ahead of time and be specific about what you are looking for. Ask about location, price, meeting format, and confidentiality.  
 
Avoid Negativity
Look for a support group that is solution-oriented. Having a safe place to “vent” is important but beware of groups that turn into a pity party or a place to constantly spew negative emotions. The goal of a support group is to walk away feeling refreshed. A sign of a healthy group is when there are regular members attending and you see friendships budding. If arguments are a regular feature, then walk away.
 
I have been facilitating a support group for the last couple of years –  Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD. This group has continued to grow because members realize that in order to cope effectively with their unique situation, they need love and support from others who can completely relate. I have been receiving many messages from our members sharing their feeling about our group. Here are some of the latest comments:
 
"Thank you for this site and your ongoing support. I have only been a member here for exactly one month, but it has meant more to me than all the counseling I've attempted over a 30-year marriage. I just can't emphasize enough what a relief from profound confusion, invalidation, and loneliness this experience of being heard and guided here has been. I think I'm finally making some real progress in regaining myself."
 
"In starting this discussion group, you are truly creating something big. Out of your pain and life lessons, you are giving others life through awareness and the chance to express and feel. . .normal again. Further, your continued presence on this site is amazing since you already have a business to run yourself."
 

Thank you to all who have shown your support to our group. If you are interested in joining, please take the leap! We would love to meet you. Click here for more information about Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD.

Appreciate the Lighter Side of Asperger Syndrome - Don't Forget to Laugh

Thursday, February 03, 2011


If you have a loved one with Asperger Syndrome, life can be filled with frustration and tension. As easy as it is to focus on the negative, it is not always healthy. So I want remind and encourage you to laugh!

Countless studies have shown that laughter really is the "best medicine." Laughing can reduce your level of stress hormones, change your perspective on a difficult situation, and is also good for your physical health. Such a simple idea!

Aspies are known for their unique perspective on life and with that comes many humorous situations. Do you choose to laugh at those types of situations or do you get frustrated? There can be great value in looking for the positive and humorous side of their personality or situation. By doing this, you will grow to appreciate some of the differences in your loved one and look at the lighter side of things now and then.

If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please join us for our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD support group on February 19, 2011. We will be discussing the lighter side of Asperger's by sharing our funny stories. We all need a good laugh and this will be a perfect opportunity to do so! If you are not able to attend, please become a member on our website and join our lively discussion groups. We would still love to hear your funny stories.

 

New Features and Feedback from Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD

Friday, January 07, 2011


Thank you to all who are making the Meetup support group, Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD, a place of support and understanding. You have exceeded my wildest expectations.

 

I wanted to share with you what some of our members are saying about our group:

"This site is a God send. NT spouses reaching out to kindred spirits for understanding and support. AS is difficult to diagnosis and only those of us who live with it truly understand how emotionally devastating it can be. Thank you Kathy for starting this Meetup group."

"Every non Asperger spouse or family member would find valuable support in sharing their real life experiences living with a spouse or family member with AS.
"

"Genuine support group, extremely helpful to understanding ASD."

For those of you who do not live in the Portland/Vancouver area, there is new feature on our  Meetup site just for you. I have created message board space for members to post on the same subject we’re addressing in our face-to-face Meetups. I recognize that this is not the same, but I hope that this will help you to connect with us on the topic at hand.

I also wanted to mention that you can email other members via the Meetup site. If you want to connect personally with any of our members feel free to do so. It is all anonymous, so no personal information is given out.

On January 8, 2011 at 1:00 pm, the Beaverton Group will
be meeting to discuss "What did the holidays look like in your household? How did you take care of yourself?"

On January 15, 2011 at 1:00 pm, the Portland Group will be discussing, "Are you invisible? How do you cope with Aspies?"

We hope that you will be able to attend or share your thoughts on our message board. I look forward to hearing from you.


For more information, visit the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup website. In order to access information on the Meetup site, please register as a member. All members are approved on the basis that they have adult family or loved ones on the Autism Spectrum.  

Why Do Aspies and Neuro-Typicals Get Married?

Monday, December 27, 2010


Someone with Asperger Syndrome is characterized by their lack of communication skills, social skills and reciprocity of feelings. The Aspie knows what they think and feel but are often unaware of what others think or feel. With a deficiency in these critical areas, some have wondered how someone with Asperger's develops an intimate relationship or even gets married.

The answer is simple, Aspies and NT's (someone not on the autism spectrum) choose partners much the same way as do all human beings. We are attracted physically and intellectually and emotionally. We may enjoy the similarities for the comfort and the differences for the spice!

We also unconsciously seek mates who have qualities we lack. An AS person may be attracted to a strong, intelligent, compassionate NT who can handle the social world for them. The NT may be attracted to the unconventional nature and child-like charm of the AS adult. They may sense that the Aspie will allow the NT his or her independence. It is only later that they learn their AS partner is quite conservative in relating. Instead of supporting independence, the NT spouse realizes that his or her AS mate is just not aware of (and even disinterested) the NT’s interests. The Aspie’s attention is narrowly focused on her or his own interests.

But it is important to remember that Aspies do love. They just love in a different way. The marriage will be trying, but there are things that can be done to help the relationship. If you are in a marriage with someone with Asperger Syndrome and want that marriage to succeed, you must learn how to understand your partner.

My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?, was written specifically with the NT spouse in mind, but it can also be beneficial for the Aspie spouse. After reading the book, my hope is that readers can more clearly look at their own situations and, based on the ideas in this book, take the necessary steps to live happier, more full-filled lives. Going Over the Edge is available for purchase or download a free sample chapter.

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

New Research Shows How MRI Scan May Be Used to Diagnosis Autism

Thursday, December 09, 2010


Harvard University and the University of Utah have been working together to develop a new method for diagnosing autism. The results of their research is very noteworthy. A MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is used to test the regions in the brain that relate to emotions, social cognition, and language. When scanning the brain of someone with autism, researchers found that there was not as much information being passed between these areas of the brain.

Lead study author Nicholas Lange, ScD, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, told Medscape Medical News that, "The test was able to detect autism in this high-functioning population with 94% accuracy. This technique shows that someone with autism has less organized wiring."

What makes this method so much better than the previous? Dr. Lange said, "Autism is diagnosed now with a very subjective measure, a formal interview that takes 4 hours, and with observation of the child for another hour or so. But it’s the doctor’s call. This test is a more definitive way of determining autism early on, by pointing to something in the brain that is biologically based."

This test is not yet available, but as for the future of this type of testing, Dr. Lange states, "We are continuing to study and develop the test, and more findings are due out a year or 2 from now. We are also planning future studies to look at patients with high-severity autism and younger children less than 7 years of age and patients with brain disorders, such as developmental language disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder, who do not have autism." For a more detailed description of this study, read MRI Test Shows Diagnostic Promise for Autism.

Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Find Support Online

Friday, December 03, 2010


Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD now has 216 members from around the world. Since our meetings are currently held in Portland, Beaverton, and Lake Oswego, Oregon, many of our members are not able to physically attend. In spite of this, our message boards have become a Meetup location in itself.

Our message board currently contain 8 different discussion forums. Out of these forums, literally hundreds of discussions have been formed with thousands of posts. Issues such as sleep problems, sex, parenting, co-dependency, grieving, medication, and much more are being discussed. Some of the most popular discussions: Christian and Asperger's, Alexithymia, Humorous Differences, Why God Made Aspergers, and How To Leave and Grieve. I have been impressed with the prolific writers in the group and I encourage you to keep writing! Something you write may touch the life of someone else.

Please come and join our group. No matter where you are in the world, you can chat with others, gain insight, and support. If you live in the Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA area, we would love to meet you in person at one of our Meetups. We will be meeting December 4, 2010 in Westside Portland to discuss, Asperger's and Other Co-Occurring Disorders- Does My Loved One Have Any? On December 11, 2010 in Portland, we will discuss Sensory Overload, Holiday Meltdowns and How to Survive. Click here for more information about the upcoming meetings.

We look forward to seeing you there or meeting you online! Thank you to all who continue to give support.


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