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Kathy Marshack News

Help Your Special Needs Child Prepare for the New School Year

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Summer is flying by and before you know it you’re kids will be back to school. For parents who have children with special needs such ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) it can be stressful preparing your child for the new school year. I have put together a few tips to help make the transition from summer to school a little easier for you and your child.

Be Positive
It is only natural for your child to feel apprehensive about the new school year. You can help ease their worries by speaking positively about what they are going to experience this year. Get them excited about that they are going to learn. Recall to their minds the thing they enjoyed from previous years.

Get into a Routine
Even though school hasn't started yet, it’s a good idea to start getting into a good routine that will ease them into their school schedule. Set a wake up time and bedtime for your child. This may need to be done gradually for them to adjust. Also start with a few academic games/projects to refresh their memories and get them to prepared for what to expect when school starts. Consistency is key for both ADD and ASD.

Get Prepared
Include your child when you are getting prepared for the school year. Take them with you when you do their school shopping and let them pick out things that they like. Help them put together their backpacks, discuss lunch and snack options, and help them lay out their clothes for school the night before. Make the preparation a joint effort.

One other thing I really recommend doing – once you find out who your child's teacher will be – is to put together a packet about your child for the teacher. Take a look at the article How to Assemble a Teacher Information Packet for some helpful tips.

For additional back to school and safety tips, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics - Back To School Tips. My website also has information about Parenting a Child with ADD.

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.

Behavioral Problems Linked to Sleep Disorder in Children with ASD

Saturday, July 17, 2010


It’s been estimated that 40-80% of children who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will have problems sleeping. This is a major concern as it can contribute to behavioral problems during the day. When your child isn’t sleeping well, he or she is more likely to be hyperactive, irritable, and aggressive. This puts the physical and emotional well-being of the child at risk.

If your child is not sleeping, then it means that you are not sleeping either – which is going to impact how you are dealing with your child's behavior. If this situation sounds familiar, here are a few things you can do to try to help your child get a good night’s rest:

1. Keep a sleep diary. By keeping a daily record of the day and night, it might help you to discern if there are things that are causing a night of poor sleep.

2. Foods that are a stimulate – like sugar and caffeine – should be avoided before bedtime.

3. Entertainment that can be stimulating should also be avoided. Instead of television or computer time, try something soothing and relaxing like reading a story or a light massage. Also keep the house quiet.

4. Start a bedtime routine and stick to it.

5. If problems persist, see your child's doctor.

A good night’s sleep is very valuable. You and your child deserve it. It may be a struggle to get it under control, but be patient. For more information, I recommend The National Autistic Society - Sleep and Autism - Helping Your Child.

Parenting a child with ASD, especially when your parenting with an ASD spouse, is no easy task. My new book “Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind” addresses these issues. A free sample chapter is now available for download. Click here for more information.

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.

Can You Forgive Your Asperger Partner?

Thursday, June 10, 2010


In a relationship, forgiveness is one of the keys to success. When you are in a relationship with someone with Asperger Syndrome, whether they are a partner or family member, forgiveness is a struggle. Even though you may have a forgiving nature, somehow forgiving our AS adults may not feel healing. There is still something missing.

In May, I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Janis Abrahms Spring speak at the Oregon Psychological Association meeting. She brought up an interesting point about the issue of forgiveness stating that there cannot be genuine forgiveness in a relationship unless there is full cooperation of the "offending" party. You can come to some acceptance and that is healing for you but there is still that hole that can only be filled when both parties process the hurt.

Dr. Abrahms Spring wrote a fantastic book entitled, How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive and the Freedom to Not. I highly recommend reading it especially if forgiveness is an issue in your life.

On June 19th, our Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD, held in Portland, Oregon, will be discussing this very troubling concept of reclaiming our lives when there is no apology, no empathic request for forgiveness, no acceptance of our offers of apology and no connecting over the shared hurt. There are answers and in our group sharing we will discover them. Visit our Meetup page for more information.

New Partners & Family of Adults with Asperger Syndrome Support Group in Lake Oswego, Oregon

Thursday, April 15, 2010


It’s been one year since the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Support Group was formed in Portland. Thanks to all who have been a part of the group and helped it to develop into a productive and upbuilding environment.

Since the support group has been so successful, we have decided to form a new group in the Lake Oswego area. Two members from the Portland group will be facilitating the new group. The group will meet on alternate Saturdays to the Portland group. If you currently attend the Portland group, you are welcome to join the Lake Oswego meetings as well. The location and exact start-up date have not been confirmed. I will be sure to include all details in a blog as soon as they have been decided upon.

This Saturday April 17, the Portland group will be meeting in at 1 pm. The theme of this month’s discussion is "Learning to laugh again." Come join us to begin the process of reclaiming your life. If you are already laughing, share the laughter. If you are still numb and in survivor mode come along and see what is possible by hearing the stories of others. If you are somewhere in between then you know that you are growing toward freedom and that feels so good.

Our goal is to start a group in the Vancouver, Washington area in the near future. For more information, please visit Meetup.com.

Autism Awareness is Growing in Canada

Thursday, April 01, 2010


The Autism Society Canada has proudly announced that April 2nd, 2010 will be designated as the World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) in Canada. Their goal is to spread awareness about autism and lend assistance to those living with ASD. It has been estimated that 1 in 150 Canadians have some form of ASD. Since Canada is without national surveillance, those numbers can only be viewed as an estimate.

Michael Lewis, President of the Autism Society Canada is hoping for a change in how autism is monitored in Canada. He said, “All autism stakeholder organizations agree that Canada must establish accurate surveillance and reporting on ASDs. This information will help us to determine the prevalence of autism to help develop policies needed regarding treatments and services for all Canadians living with an ASD."

For more information about the Autism Society of Canada and WAAD, visit their website or join their Facebook page. Let us all continue to work towards more awareness of ASD in whatever country we live in!

The Autism Society of Washington Conference

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


The Autism Society of Washington is hosting the Best in the Northwest Conference – Bridge to Adulthood: Promoting Competence through Comprehensive Transition Planning for Learners with Autism and Related Disorders. This is a one-day workshop in my hometown, Vancouver, Washington and it will be held on April 16, 2010.

The workshop will be directed by Dr. Peter Gerhardt, President of the Organization for Autism Research. With over 25 years of experience of working with autism related disorders, Dr. Gerhardt will be focusing on the transition process beyond classroom academics and promoting life competence for ones with ASD.

I have signed up to attend this workshop. Click here for more information or to register. Maybe I’ll see you there!


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