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Kathy Marshack News

Parenting with an Asperger Spouse in Real Life vs. Hollywood

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


With as many as 1.5 million Americans having some form of autism, including milder variants, autism is a hot topic.  In 2009, the movie “Adam" highlighted the difficulties of falling in love with someone who has Asperger Syndrome and currently NBC’s “Parenthood” has a character with Asperger Syndrome. When I talk to couples in these difficult relationships, they’re not that interested in Hollywood, they’re looking for real life solutions.

With so much emphasis being placed on Asperger Syndrome, many are left wondering, how can someone co-parent with an Aspie partner? What about the children of an Asperger parent? How can a child thrive when his or her parent has so little empathy?

I’ve been moved to investigate these sensitive and unique issues especially after writing “Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? Practical Steps to Saving You and Your Relationship." As many of you know, I am currently writing a new book entitled, “Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind.”

I have found that when you live with Aspies it’s the ordinary things of life that cease to function properly – like getting enough sleep, or asking your spouse to pick up a child from soccer practice. When co-parenting with an Aspie these ordinary things become strained and turn into not-so-ordinary moments leaving the Neuro-typical (NT) partner feeling drained, unnerved, and tense. In fact many NT spouses/partners report a variety of psycho-somatic and immunodeficiency illnesses such as migraines, arthritis, gastric reflux and fibromyalgia.

If you find yourself in this situation, you are not alone. There are answers to this dilemma and I will continue to write about those answers. I encourage you to download a FREE
sample chapter of Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind.” I will continue to keep you updated on any news about the book and when it will be available. 

Neuro-typicals Ask – Am I Really That Different?

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Am I really that different? Am I really that hard to understand or identify with? Am I really unlovable? When you are married or in a relationship with someone with Asperger Syndrome, you have probably asked yourself that question before. For some reason we have a hard time shaking the belief that we are different, difficult to understand, or even not very likeable.

Obviously there are reasons for this . . . such as the fact that living with someone who has a deficit in the area of empathy and reciprocity can contribute to misconceptions about ourselves. We may lose sight of our own reality and collapse into agonizing despair and sadly we begin to believe that those misconceptions are true.

This type of mental and emotional confusion needs powerful therapy to break through the faulty reasoning that is a result of using NT (neurotypical) logic to make sense of the Asperger world. Often times therapy is directed towards the Asperger spouse, but in order for the relationship to heal and progress, therapy is necessary for both partners. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office for more information regarding effective therapy options.

You are also invited to join our upcoming Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD support group. We will be discussing the theme: Are we really that different? on November 13, 2010.

My book Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? is also available for purchase. 

Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD New Group in Lake Oswego, OR

Thursday, September 09, 2010


Good news! The Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Support Group now has a sister group meeting in Lake Oswego, Oregon. The hope is to offer a different time and location for people to meet. The group will be facilitated by two wonderful members from the Portland group. Here are the details for the next meeting:

What: Asperger Syndrome:Partners & Family of Adults with ASD

When: Saturday, September 25, 2010 1:00 PM

Where: Terrace Kitchen - 485 2nd Street (corner of 2nd & B Ave.), Lake Oswego, OR 97034

This group is available for Portland members as well as newcomers. We hope you come and join us for our discussions. Click here to join and RSVP.

High Divorce Rates for Parents Raising a Child with Autism

Thursday, September 02, 2010


Will the marriage survive once an autistic child grows up? Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Waisman Center decided to focus their attention on this particular subject. According to their research, couples are more likely to divorce when their autistic child becomes a teen or adult than couples who have children with no disabilities. Sigan Hartley, a UW-Madison assistant professor explains, "Typically, if couples can survive the early child-rearing years, parenting demands decrease and there is often less strain on the marriage. However, parents of children with autism often continue to live with and experience high parenting demands into their child's adulthood, and thus marital strain may remain high in these later years." For more information on this study, please read Study Details Autism's Heavy Toll Beyond Childhood on Marriages.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, it is vital that you seek help for your marriage as well as help to cope with your autistic loved one. There are many different avenues that one can take to get support. Find a mental health care professional that can offer guidance in the marriage as well as dealing with an autistic child. You may want to look for a local support group that focuses on relationships with a ASD family member. If you live the in the Portland, Oregon area check out Asperger Syndrome: Partners or Family of Adults with ASD. If you do not live nearby, you can join us online where we have many group discussions on our forum.

If you are parenting with an Asperger spouse, please download a free sample chapter of my upcoming book - Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind.”

Depression is Common with Adult ADHD

Sunday, August 29, 2010


If you have been diagnosed with Adult ADHD, studies show you are more likely to also suffer from depression than adults without ADHD. Depression could be rooted in a variety of different factors, but sometimes it’s because you are frustrated by living with ADHD. Someone may slip into depression because they have just recently been diagnosed or maybe they are tired of being perceived as lazy, flighty, or unsuccessful. Regardless of the reasons, depression can hit very hard.

It is important if you have Adult ADHD that you get proper therapy with or without symptoms of depression. Psychotherapy is especially helpful for people with ADHD who also deal with depression and anxiety. It can also help adults deal with the frustration and anger they feel because their ADHD was never addressed in childhood. In addition, psychotherapists can help improve social skills and the ability to deal with ADHD-unfriendly situations. A specific type of psychotherapy is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which has proven to be highly beneficial.

In addition to your psychotherapy treatments, you can also try meditation, exercise, or a hobby when you are feeling depressed. Remember that both ADHD and depression are treatable. Visit my website for more information about Adult ADHD and Depression.

New Brain Scan for Diagnosing Adult Autism

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Experts have been searching for easier methods to diagnose adult autism. Current methods can be lengthy and expensive. Scientists at King's College London are in the process of developing a brain scan to diagnose autism.

The Medical Research Counsel performed a study on 40 different individuals – 20 with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and 20 without ASD. They first diagnosed their patients using previously known methods and then performed a 15 minute MRI. Small differences in the brain were identified. They had a success rate of 90% according to the Journal of Neuroscience. For more detailed information on this study, read BBC News - New Brain Scan To Diagnose Autism.

These experts are hopeful that this test will become a widely used method for diagnosing ASD. Then the patient will be able to get immediate attention from a professional who can assist them with coping techniques. This is also exciting information because it may help us learn more about brain abnormalities and ASD.  

For more information on adult Autism Spectrum Disorder, visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions.

Partners & Family of Adults With ASD Support Group Goes International

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I wanted to share some of the exciting news about the Asperger Syndrome: Partner's & Family of Adults with ASD Support Group. Our small group has grown tremendously and now has 187 members. The members are not only those local to the Portland/Vancouver area, but we now have members from around the world from Europe, Great Britain, Dubai, East Africa, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

The message boards have become a place where members can discuss their concerns and gain support. Here is what one of our new members wrote:

"Kathy, I just wanted to let you know how much this group is helping me. I have found a wealth of information and understanding. The shame and guilt that have been so present for so long is lifting because of the stunning similarities other woman are walking in and willing to share so honestly and openly. I'm glad you started this group (I only wish I lived in Portland lol) but good things are happening on the message board.”

The message boards are private and for members only and I screen new members. It is important to me that this support group is maintained as a place of support and security.

Our next meeting is scheduled for August 14, 2010. The topic for discussion is "Aspie by Nature or Exposure?" I hope that you can join us – if not in person, then on the message boards!

Can Computers Help Someone with Asperger Syndrome?

Friday, July 23, 2010


Social anxiety, difficulty communicating, and lack of eye contact are all things that someone with Asperger Syndrome has to deal with. It is like a heavy weight that they carry with them wherever they go. So, the question is, what can help such ones improve their "skills"?

Love to Know - Autism had a really interesting article about how computer programs can benefit those with Asperger Syndrome. It highlighted that computer programs are now available to assist those with Asperger Syndrome to develop skills that do not come naturally to them such as eye contact, improving memory, and problem solving. (Please read the article to see the full list of benefits and a list of computer software for this purpose.)

A word of caution though, if you choose this route of additional therapy, keep in mind that computers have no emotion. These types of programs should not be a replacement for companionship, but rather a training ground. If your loved one has Asperger's, seek out treatment for them from a mental health care professional who is skilled in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Visit my website for more information about Asperger Syndrome Support.

I’m also writing a new book, “Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind”. It addresses the unique issues that come up when you’re co-parenting with an Aspie partner. Click here to download a free sample chapter.

What about Children with an Asperger Parent?

Friday, July 09, 2010


I have written a lot about what it’s like being married to someone with Asperger Syndrome –  the many challenges you face daily. Now imagine what it’s like having a parent with Asperger Syndrome. This scenario is real and affects many children. So this leads us to wonder, what is life like for these children?

It is only realistic to expect that living with an Asperger parent will be a challenge. Many adults who were raised with an Aspie parent are now reporting severe depression and self-esteem problems because they lived with a 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 does not 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.

I am writing a new book entitled,  “Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind." It addresses the unique issues that come up when you’re co-parenting with an Aspie partner. Click here to download a free sample chapter.

If you have a child who has an Aspie parent, I highly recommend seeking professional help from a mental health care specialist. For more information on Asperger Syndrome, visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions on my website.

How to Support Friends who Live with Aspie Family Members

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Asperger Syndrome: Partner's & Family of Adults with ASD Support Group has been growing by leaps and bounds. Our meetings and Meetup page has become a place of comfort and support for those who have loved ones with ASD. So many times the focus is put on the one with ASD and with no support for their family, but that is now changing.

I recently received an post from a new member who joined to support her friend who is married to someone with ASD. Here is what she said, "Thank you for your welcome. I was happy to find this group as I was very much helped by your book, which I've passed on to my friends. They found it tremendously helpful. I am glad to find any discussion on these issues as those outside the situation find it pretty nigh impossible to understand the pain involved. I'm not married to an AS but my friend is."

The support group is not limited to those with family/partners of ASD, but also those who are friends to Neuro-typicals with Asperger partners. Many times the NT's feels like no one understands the pain that they are experiencing. This new member set a wonderful example of a supportive friend. I encourage anyone else in this situation to please join our support group meetings or Meetup page if you live outside of the Portland/Vancouver area.

My book Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge is available for purchase on my website or feel free to download the first chapter for free. This is also an excellent resource for friends to read to gain a greater appreciation for what their friends may be experiencing. Thank you to all of you who are taking the lead to help spread the word about Asperger Syndrome.


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