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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.

Can Marriage Survive When You Have a Child with Autism?

Friday, July 05, 2013


Happy marriages and happy family

There’s a lot of confusing data and misinformation out there, such as the oft repeated, but unsubstantiated, statistic that 80 percent of parents of autistic children will divorce. Granted, raising an autistic child does add more stress, especially since parents must suddenly become experts in education, health care, early intervention, insurance policies and so much more amidst the storm of emotions connected with learning of your child’s diagnosis. But that in no way means your marriage is doomed. 


To the contrary, researchers have found that, if the marriage has a strong foundation of good communication, flexibility and conflict resolution, then these qualities will draw you closer together as you work to provide your child with the training and attention needed. You can read more about this in the Psychology Today article, “Love in the Time of Autism”.

Parents are encouraged to draw boundaries to preserve the quality of life with each other, with their neuro-typical children, family, friends and careers. You can’t let the guilt and grief of autism consume you. It’s important to discuss a division of labor between you and your life partner so you make decisions together and express appreciation for what each is doing. It’s damaging to spring emotionally charged decisions on a mate who is already stressed out.

Another crucial element to keeping your marriage strong in these circumstances is to reach out for support and not try to go it alone. If there are strains in marriage before the diagnosis of ASD, then these will be magnified. The good news is that even strained marriages can be salvaged by consulting with a mental health professional who specializes in autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. If you’re ready to talk, contact my office and set up an appointment in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington.

Download a free chapter of “Out of Mind - Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome”. It’s my new book that addresses the unique issues that comes from co-parenting with an Aspie partner and how you can detach from the emotional distress.

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. 

 


5 Mothers and Their Fight Against Autism

Friday, April 12, 2013


With autism statistics rising, a group of five courageous mothers are taking note of the disorder and how it is affecting African American and Hispanic children in the United States. Colored My Mind is a non-profit organization whose mission "is to educate, enlighten, and empower parents whose children are on the ASD spectrum throughout communities nationwide." 


The founders of Colored My Mind are working hard to see that minorities are receiving practical assistance when it comes to treatment and diagnoses for ASD children. Many in the African American and Hispanic community struggle getting health care and special education for their AS child and sadly some have dealt with negative racial bias. The goal is to educate all people regardless of race and nationality. Their story will appears in a documentary entitled, Colored My Mind, and will show at The Cannes Film Festival in May 2013. 


To learn more about this organization and the work they are doing to bring much need awareness about autism, visit Colored My Mind


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.)



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