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Kathy Marshack News

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.

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. 

Autism and Anger - What is the Connection?

Monday, November 15, 2010


Behavioral problems, anxiety, and anger have all been linked with autism. These emotions stem back to the basic characteristics of autism which makes life much more challenging. When a child with autism can't understand or confront the challenge, they get frustrated and then act out their frustration by displaying anger. This is a vicious cycle that can be physically and emotionally taxing for them and also for their loved ones.

As a parent, it’s vital that you take action to help your autistic child work through the anger they may be experiencing. Methods for coping with frustration and anger include:

Identifying Triggers
Try to identify what triggers the anger. What frustrates them? When does it turn from frustration to anger? By identifying the cause, you can work to either eliminate it or work to overcome it. You may want to keep an accurate record of the events and reactions to help you identify what the triggers are.

Teaching Them How to Communicate
After identifying the triggers, you can begin teaching and training your child to work through their frustration. Explain to them what they should do when they begin to feel that way. Come up with a system or a way for them to communicate to you that they are feeling that way and need help. This takes time and persistence on the part of the parent. Ask your therapist for suggestions on how to do this effectively.

Getting the Right Kind of Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been the most effective type of therapy when dealing with autism. CBT addresses the way you think and how to change faulty irrationally thinking into more constructive, solution-oriented thinking. Click here for more information on CBT. Please contact my office if you live in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area and are looking for a therapist to help you parent your autistic child.

 

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. 

Give Your Autistic Child Positive Reinforcement

Sunday, October 31, 2010


In a recent blog, I wrote about the value of learning the early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders. The benefit of early recognition is that specific training can begin immediately. One type of training is to instill positive reinforcement when working with your child. When you reinforce their good behavior, it will help them to understand what is the right way to act.

This actually works whether or not your child has ASD. However, as parents it’s so easy to fall into only commenting on bad behavior. In order to give positive reinforcement, you have to be looking for the good behavior and good qualities that they are exhibiting and be quick to commend them. When giving commendation, be specific. Explain what they did that you liked and why you liked it. Did they do a good job making eye contact? Did they use the right language? Even a little thing can be a good thing to reinforce.

Another way to do this is to offer rewards when they have done something positive. Make sure that the reward fits the child otherwise it will not mean anything to them. The reward can be verbal or something tangible. The goal is to help them to make the connection that their good behavior equals positive reinforcement.

Each child is different, so different things work for different children. So be patient and focus on the positive. For more information on positive reinforcement, read Being Proactive in Therapy and Research.

If you are parenting with a spouse with Asperger Syndrome, download a free sample chapter from my newest project Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind.

 

 

Be Proactive - Learn the Early Signs of ASD

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


According to the CDC, 1 in 110 children in the United States are being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD. With the numbers rising, it is of high importance that parents be proactive and learn the early signs of ASD. Early diagnosis is vital! This knowledge will make an enormous difference in the life of the child and the parent. Once the diagnosis is made, then training can begin.

The Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention is taking note of the delayed diagnosis of ASD and is now working to educate parents on the early signs of ASD. They have a wide variety of tools available on their website. For example, one tool enables parents to keep track of milestones in the early development of their child and what they should be looking for. They also discuss what to do if you are concerned, how to talk to your doctor, where do go for an evaluation, free resource kits and much more.

I encourage you to take advantage of the many resources that are available. Don't delay! This could greatly impact your future and the future of your child. To learn more about parenting with a spouse with ASD click here.

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.

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.


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