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Kathy Marshack News

The 42nd Autism Society National Conference and Exposition,

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


According to the Autism Society, 1 to 1.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. If that includes you or a family member you may want to consider attending the upcoming 42nd Autism Society National Conference and Exposition. This is the largest autism conference in the nation and it will be held on July 6-9, 2011, at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

According to The Autism Society - Conference website, "The Autism Society recognizes that families and individuals living with an autism spectrum disorder have a range of issues and needs. Our National Conference addresses the range of issues affecting people with autism including early intervention, education, employment, behavior, communication, social skills, biomedical interventions and others, across the entire lifespan. Bringing together the expertise and experiences of family members, professionals and individuals on the spectrum, attendees are able to learn how to more effectively advocate and obtain supports for the individual with ASD. The ultimate goal is to empower family members, individuals on the spectrum and professionals to make informed decisions."

Attendees will gain knowledge of the latest research in the field, connect with parents and professionals, and learn about local and national resources. Autism Asperger Publishing Company (AAPC) will have a booth at the conference with many of their highly-respected authors presenting more information and offering book signings. (AAPC published my book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?.) Click here for more information about the conference.

Do You Feel Alone in an Asperger Relationship?

Friday, May 20, 2011


Do you feel alone even though you have a family? This is a common feeling for neurotypicals (NTs) who are in an Asperger marriage or have a family member with Asperger Syndrome. Even though you have a family, you can still feel very alone. Rest assured that your family member loves you, but they are blind to the emotional needs that you have. This is known as "mind-blindness." You may logically be able to comprehend this fact about your loved one, but after time, it can take a toll on you emotionally and even physically.

Your family may not understand what you are going through, but there are others who do. There are many men and women who are in the same situation, coping with the loneliness that comes from being in an Asperger relationship. How can you find each other ? By joining Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD. Time and time again, I hear our members refer to this group as a "family." Its intent is not to replace the family you have, but rather extend it by filling the emotional needs that each individual has. I find it an honor to be a part of this unique family circle.

If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, I encourage your attendance. Some upcoming topics for discussion are: Is your body taking a beating? Is Asperger’s a disconnect between cognitive and emotional empathy? Is your Asperger partner or loved one a survivor?

If you do not live locally, look for a support group for families of Asperger Syndrome in your area. You are also welcome to join our site and participate on the message boards. We have lively discussions and would love to hear from you. Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD

Also you may find my book helpful. Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge? is available for purchase. The book primarily focuses on the NT in the relationship and how to guide yourself through these unique relationships. Click here to download a free sample chapter.

The Latest Autism Statistics (1 Child in 38) Are Staggering

Monday, May 09, 2011


You may have heard the numbers reported on by the CDC – that 1 in 110 children are being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the United States. According to new research, it could be much higher! The American Journal of Psychiatry will be publishing new research from a study performed by researchers at the Child Study Center at Yale University and George Washington University.

For the last six years, researchers studied 7-12 year old children from the Ilsan District of the city of Goyang, South Korea. They estimate that 2.64% or 1 in 38 children in South Korea have autism. This doesn't necessarily mean that there are now more autistic children than before, but that the method of screening was more thorough.

In the past, the statistics given by researchers came from records of existing autism cases, but it never included children from parents who did not seek out a diagnosis. In the study performed in South Korea, the researchers tried to screen every child from the ages of 7-12. No wonder it took them six years! For more details on this study, read Study Uncovers Higher Rate of Autism.

These numbers can come as quite a shock. It raises the question, if this was done in the United States, would that 1 to 110 statistic change? It is my hope that doctors, parents, and teachers take a more proactive approach to uncovering autism. The earlier autism is detected, the sooner that child can receive the right kind of therapy, training, and schooling. Early detection is vital!

TV Series “Exploring Critical Issues” Delves into Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


"A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle." - Khalil Gibran

Dr. Robert A. Scott, Adelphi University President, the host of the television series "Exploring Critical Issues" will soon be discussing the topic, "Autism and Asperger Syndrome." The purpose of the segment is to discuss the newest autism research and policies with the goal of bring awareness to this fast growing disorder.

Asperger Syndrome (AS) is much more common than previously realized and many adults are undiagnosed. Studies suggest that AS is considerably more common than "classic" Autism. Whereas Autism has traditionally been thought to occur in about 4 out of every 10,000 children, estimates of Asperger Syndrome have ranged as high as 20-25 per 10,000. A study carried out in Sweden , concluded that nearly 0.7% of the children studied had symptoms suggestive of AS to some degree. Time Magazine notes in its May 6, 2002 issue cover story, “ASD is five times as common as Down syndrome and three times as common as juvenile diabetes." Click here to learn more about Asperger Syndrome.

Along with Dr. Robert Scott is a panel of four autism experts including Dr. Stephen Shore, Assistant Professor of Education at Adelphi University. Dr. Shore wrote the forward to my book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?. He teaches courses in special education and autism at Adelphi University. In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Dr. Shore addresses adult issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure as discussed in his many books.

This one hour broadcast will air:
Sunday, May 8th
Sunday, May 15th
Tuesday, May 10th
Tuesday, May 17th
Thursday, May 12th
Thursday, May 19th

"Autism and Asperger Syndrome" can be viewed online at www.telecaretv.org.

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.  



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