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Kathy Marshack News

Man with Asperger’s Teaches a Lesson on Contributing to the Community

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


man with Asperger's took picturesMost people would like to rise above their life and work challenges and make a real difference in the world around them. It’s important to all of us that what we do matters, even if we do lead seemingly average lives.

 

Sometimes, it can be something small that matters the most. Take the story of Leon Ricks, an 85-year-old man who recently died in California. He had Asperger’s Syndrome, and even though he had trouble interacting with others socially, he was beloved by his neighbors. Plus he made a real contribution to his community, although it wasn’t recognized until he was gone.


Mr. Ricks spent his life walking the streets of his town, Altadena, taking photographs of everything. When his family was sorting through the boxes of photos, they discovered that his lifetime of photography documented the history of the town. So much so that the president of the Altadena Historical Society said his photo collection was “every historian’s dream.”


What struck me as I read this article was that we all contribute to our communities in one way or another. And if we take time to be grateful for what others do and even what we can do ourselves, it’s another way of contributing to society. Especially when we make a habit of expressing our appreciation, it becomes a really valuable contribution. How nice it would have been for Mr. Ricks if he could have enjoyed the appreciation from his town.


Sometimes, though, our thoughts and emotions get out of balance and we don’t see things or even the people in our lives in such a positive light. Then it’s a good time to seek professional guidance. If you live in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area, and would like to talk about it, contact my office and set up an appointment.

Asperger Relationships: Coping with Unremitting Grief

Monday, June 10, 2013


When you love someone with Asperger Syndrome, you may hit a point where you grieve. You may be grieving over the relationship or for the loss of a dream. The problem with this grief is it may not be going away. When you continue to live with your Asperger partner, your keep triggering the loss. You feel it over and over again.

But what is going on when years later you are still so depressed, forlorn, and fatigued over the loss of your dream? I have heard some define this as "Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Disorder". I believe the symptoms are very similar to depression, but of a grief that never goes away or unremitting grief.

On June 15, 2013, Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Families of Adults with ASD will be meeting in Portland, Oregon to discuss the topic, "Unremitting Grief." Sharing stories and giving input from only those who have walked in these shoes can help to bind up the broken hearts of others. Come and join us and share what you know about "unremitting grief." This will be the last Meetup until September and it will not be one to miss. Click on the link for membership details.

Download a free sample chapter of Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge.

What Experts Are Saying About the New DSM-5

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


The new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5, is about to be released. There has been mixed response from the medical community about the revisions in the "Bible of mental disorders." One expert, Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, suggests that the DSM is the best out there at the moment, but would like to see some changes.

Dr. Insel believes that disorders should be categorized not only by symptoms, but by also looking at biology, genetics, and neuroscience. Chairman of the DSM revisions and professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. David J. Kupfer commented on this problem. He said, "The problem that we’ve had in dealing with the data that we’ve had over the five to 10 years since we began the revision process of D.S.M.-5 is a failure of our neuroscience and biology to give us the level of diagnostic criteria, a level of sensitivity and specificity that we would be able to introduce into the diagnostic manual."

Insel and other scientists are looking to establish a new way of looking at and diagnosing mental disorders. To learn more about this subject, read the New York Times Article - Psychiatry's Guide is Out of Touch With Science, Experts Say.

Click here to read my blog - How Changes in New DSM-5 Impact Those With Asperger Syndrome.

Lack of Empathy - How To Love Your Asperger Partner

Thursday, May 09, 2013


When you love and care for an adult with Asperger Syndrome, you need a safe place to share your story about the frustrating and isolating life that you experience. Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD has proved to be a valuable resource and a safe environment to share intimate and delicate scenarios that only those who live that life can understand.


On May 18, 2013, we will be meeting to discuss the topic, "How to love an abusive person." There is a reason why Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen published a book entitled, "The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty." While he believes that Aspies have good intentions, he attributes their socially clueless behavior to lack of empathy. When on the receiving end of this lack of empathy, many neuro-typicals (non Asperger's) view these behaviors as unloving and even abusive. The question becomes, if the intention is not to cause harm, is it still abuse? Furthermore, how do you hold love in your heart for a person who consistently breaks your heart?


Please join us for an in depth look at this subject. If you will not be able to attend in person, please become a member of our online community. I look forward to hearing your stories.


My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge is available for purchase. Click here to download a free sample chapter. 

 


New Research on Genetics and Mental Disorders

Thursday, April 04, 2013


What does autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and ADHD have in common? Genetics! New research says that these disorders share multiple "genetics glitches" that can move the brain toward mental illness. For a disease to actually develop would depend on additional environmental and genetic factors. Keep in mind that this involves hundreds of genes and variations. (Read the article for the latest research - 5 Disorders Share Genetic Risk Factors, Study Finds)


I found this research astounding! The wealth of research that is pouring in has the power to transform how we think and feel about these disorders and how they affect the people we love. On April 20, 2013, the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD will be meeting to discuss "Using Research as Therapy." Knowledge is power. Ignorance is oppressive. Let's use the wealth of data that is coming out of ivory tower labs and use it to heal our hearts and minds. 


If you are not able to make it in person, please join us as an online member

Asperger Love - Is It Really Love?

Thursday, March 14, 2013


If you are in a relationship with someone with Asperger Syndrome, I have no doubt that at some point you asked yourself, "Is this really love?" The reason why you may ask yourself this is because how do you know if you are loved if you partner never communicates that with you, or shows your, or has empathy? This leads to other perplexing questions like: How do you know if your love is received or understood by them? Can you be sure that your AS partner feels love the same way you do? Does it even matter? 


How can a relationship survive when the issue of love is questioned? This is such a delicate and sensitive subject that many will think about it, but will never discuss it. On March 16, 2013, Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Support Group will meet to discuss this issue. There is no easy answer or quick fix, but hopefully by having open and honest discussion can lead to a level of understanding that only those in this situation can understand. The meeting will be held in Portland, Oregon. If you do not live in the Portland area, please visit our webpage and become a member. The message boards are already discussing this topic online. We would love to hear your thoughts. 


For more on navigating through an Asperger relationship, pick up your own personal copy of my book - Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge

Autism and Context Blindness

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Have you heard the term "context blindness?" Context blindness is something that happens with Asperger Syndrome. For most people, context is a part of life. Everything is relative and depends on the context. For someone with Asperger's, life is absolute – especially in regard to social interaction. Context blindness hinders an individual from being sensitive and aware of the feelings of others.


Dr. Peter Vermeulen discusses context blindness is his new book, Autism as Context Blindness. He brilliantly describes how the autistic brain works and includes practical exercises to help improve in the area of context blindness. I highly recommend picking up your own personal copy. Click here to learn more aboutAutism as Context Blindness.


Context blindness will also be discussed at the AAPC Spring 2013 Autism Conference. There are three locations: Chicago, Salt Lake City, and Phoenix. Click here to learn more about how to attend. 

Where to Find Empathy in an Asperger Relationship

Monday, February 04, 2013


As promised, empathy in Asperger relationships is up for discussion again. On February 16, 2013, Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Support Group will be meeting to discuss - "Empathy Explains It All." I find myself talking about this topic again and again because it explains much about the mismatch in communication between someone with Asperger Syndrome and their Neuro-Typical partner.


 Why is empathy so important in relationships? Empathy is the ability to connect and know where the other is coming from at the same time that you know where you are coming from as well.  You don't have to agree with the other person to have empathy. You don't have to even be terribly interested in their interests. When you listen and are listened to...with empathy...a powerful connection occurs. It is the interpersonal world of connectedness that makes us feel loved and satisfied or even just okay. Empathy is so powerful that even research shows that a doctor who treats his patients with empathy will have better results.   


Empathy is usually lacking in an Asperger relationship. This can cause deep emotional pain for their NT partner. I chose this topic for the upcoming Meetup so we can listen to one another and empathize. Maybe empathy is lacking in the marriage, but you can find empathy amongst others who are dealing with a similar problem. Please join us for this important discussion whether it be in person or online.    


Visit Asperger Syndrome Support for more information. My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? is available for purchase. It is a practical guide for a Neuro-Typical individual in an Asperger relationship. 

 


New Study Investigates Autism Recovery

Thursday, January 24, 2013


The world of autism, diagnosis and recovery are constantly changing, shifting and evolving. New studies and research are changing the face of what we know autism to be. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published a study entitled "Optimal outcome in individuals with a history of autism" that shows the beginning of a real shift in view of autism.    


The study showed that in rare cases, a minority of individuals will lose the diagnosis due to recovery from symptoms. The reasons for such a recovery is unknown. It could be biological or behavioral patterns. At this point that is not known. Researchers are not quick to claim a cure all. They are stressing that this is rare, but significant enough to report. So, beware of false hope. 


What we do know if this – early diagnosis and behavioral therapy are critical when it comes to autism. Regardless of full recovery, those are constants in assisting individuals with autism. (To read more about this study, read - Some with Autism Diagnosis Can Recover Symptoms, Study Shows.)

Asperger’s Parents Respond to Changes in the DSM-5

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


Changes to the DSM-5 manual and the criteria for autism diagnosis is a hot topic. In the manual, Asperger Syndrome will be no more. Anyone with Asperger Syndrome will be diagnosed as ASD-Level 1. There has been a wide range of responses to these changes. Today.com posted an article, Farewell to Aspies: Some families reluctant to let go of Asperger's diagnosis, that discusses the responses to this major change. 

 

Timothy Bumpus and his mother, Catzell feel strongly that Asperger Syndrome should have its own category. Timothy commented, "Some of the most brilliant people had Asperger Syndrome, and you just can’t put that under the title of Autism." His mother agrees by stating, "His mind works in a very different way, but we focus on the positive. I don’t call it disabled. I call it differently-abled. There are so many articles I’ve read where people say it’s not a disability at all, that it’s a giftedness. It’s just a whole other level of giftedness. I think [in the DSM-5], Asperger’s should be in its own unique category."

 

Others feel differently. Deborah Knutesen, mother of a 7 year old boy with autism, has another opinion. She says, "I think if there’s a definition of Asperger's and you fall into that, then you’re part of the party. If a different name makes you feel better, okay, but you’re still part of it. And you should be an advocate for it. Our society always has to have a class system. It makes me laugh. [Asperger’s parents] consider themselves the upper class of autism."

 

Time will tell what the long-term effects will be. Experts are optimistic because they believe it will enable everyone on the spectrum to get the care that they need. Download a free chapter of my upcoming book on “Out of Mind - Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome.” 



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