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Kathy Marshack News

New TV Drama Adds a Character with Asperger Syndrome

Thursday, March 18, 2010


NBC has developed a new sitcom called "Parenthood". It is based around the challenges of raising children and starting life over. What I found interesting about this new show is that one of the main characters, Adam Braverman, has a young son with Asperger Syndrome. Yes, it looks like Hollywood's interest in Asperger's continues to grow.

Jason Katmin's, Parenthood's writer and executive producer, has a 13 year old son with Asperger Syndrome and wanted to use this opportunity to raise public awareness about the disorder and reduce the stigma around it. Wednesday morning after the second episode aired, "Asperger Syndrome" was one of the top Google searches. It looks like Jason Katmin's hope is becoming a reality.

If you would like more information on Asperger Syndrome, please visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions on my website.

Update on Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetings

Thursday, March 04, 2010


Asperger Syndrome: Partner and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup Support Group was established in Portland, Oregon back in April 2009 and I am happy to say that it is growing by leaps and bounds. The discussions we have are honest and candid. They have proven to be beneficial no matter what stage of life you are in with your partner or adult Asperger family member.

Our group also consists of extremely talented people with a wealth of information to share. The next Meetup is scheduled for March 20, 2010 at the Old Wives Tales Restaurant in Portland, Oregon at 1 p.m. It is very heartwarming for me to see that members are willing to give of themselves to each other. Even though the Meetup lasts but two hours, many members choose to stay for another hour or two because the friendships are growing. If you are interested in attending, please click here for more information.

Another amazing experience is that members that live in different states, even different continents, join in. Through our message boards members from afar can reach out and be touched. For instance, we have had over 350 posts to the message board on the subject “Patients Not Believed About The Difficulty Of Their Lives” written by Bronwyn Wilson.

Please visit our message boards to read the discussions on a whole host of subjects from increased meltdowns on the weekends, to learning patience and acceptance, to the latest science and genetic research, to fatigue and self-care, and more. Sharing is what it is all about.

A New Review of Going Over the Edge?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Oren Shtayermman, a professor from the Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences at the New York Institute of Technology, recently wrote a book review of Life with a Partner for Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge? His review was published by the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. I was very pleased with the review and wanted to share it.

I was particularly impressed about how supportive it was of NT's living in these types of relationships. For example, Shatyermman writes,  "The author reveals in a sensitive and emotional manner, the encounters and endeavors women (and few men) are faced with while living in a world where spontaneity, empathy and social cues rarely appear."

The book review concludes with this statement, "This is an exceptional book which sheds light on a population often left out of the focus of treatment and in need of further exploration vis-a-vis issues they encounter as well as the possible ways to deal with those."

Please click here to view the book review in its entirety.

New Research About the Hormone Oxytocin and High-Functioning Autism

Thursday, February 25, 2010


A new study performed by the Neuropsychology Group, Institute of Cognitive Science in France suggests that inhaling Oxytocin may be beneficial for people who have high function autism (HF-ASD). Oxytocin is a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and is thought to have an impact on emotions and behavior. Oxytocin is also referred to as "the love hormone."

The study was centered around a virtual ball toss with 13 adults with HF-ASD or Asperger Syndrome between the ages 17-39. The patients were randomly given either the Oxytocin nasal spray or a placebo spray. Those who inhaled Oxytocin improved in their ability to differentiate "good" players versus "bad" players by responding to more social cues. They also saw an improvement in gazing at the other players in the face and eyes.

This study is still in the beginning stages of research. There is much to be discovered in how much Oxytocin should be given and how often. Long-term effects of this hormone are also unknown at this time. For a complete look at this recent study, I recommend reading - Oxytocin Improves Social Interaction in High-Functioning Adults With Autism.

Controversy Stirring Over Possible Changes to Asperger Syndrome Diagnosis

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Asperger Syndrome (AS) was officially recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for the first time in 1994. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is used by mental health care professionals to identify specific disorders. The DSM-V (fifth edition) has proposed to eliminate Asperger Syndrome as a specific disorder (which it currently is) and categorize it under general Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What is good about the revisions is that the new DSM will view Autism disorders on a spectrum from mild to severe, rather than specific and distinct disorders such as Asperger Syndrome.  AS doesn't go away.  It is just refined as an Autism disorder on the milder end of the continuum.

Many Aspies and their loved ones are worried by this adjustment. Since they do not view themselves as autistic, they feel like it would label them as something different than they are. This revision has the potential to impact their future especially since Asperger's has recently been accepted and understood on a greater level. The rather controversial question is, will changing the diagnosis change the way someone with Asperger's is viewed?

The American Psychiatric Association is open to hear the public opinion of their proposed revisions. This window of opportunity will be open through April 20, 2010. Updates to the 2013 DSM-V will be based off of these comments and field trials. So now’s your chance to do the research on these proposed changes and make your opinions known! I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this matter as well. Please feel free to leave me a comment.

Click here to read the DSM-V proposed revisions. If you would like to participate in giving your comment to the American Psychiatric Association, click here. For more information, CNN Health posted a great article on this topic - Revised psychiatry manual targets autism, substance disorders.

Partners & Family of Adults with Asperger Syndrome - Spread The Word

Friday, February 12, 2010


 
I continue to hear from many who wish that there were more avenues to spread the word about relationships with loved ones who have Asperger’s. I have also felt this way which prompted me to write my book, "Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?I recognize that many are unable to write a book to express their thoughts and feelings on the subject, but there are other ways to share.


There has been an amazing response after establishing the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD support group. The Meetup.com message board has become a place for many around the world, not just in the Portland area, to come and share their thoughts, stories, and essays. One particular article stirred up over 200 views. I would like to continue encouraging you to use this incredible resource to spread the word about ASD relationships.

Slowly but surely this topic is getting more attention. Take a look at a recent book review on "Going Over the Edge?" on About.com - http://learningdisabilities.about.com/od/parentsandfamilyissues/gr/Marshack.htm. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support. As a united front, we can spread the word about living with and loving our family members with Asperger Syndrome.

How Autistic Traits Can Benefit the Workplace

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Asperger Syndrome (AS) is known as high functioning autism. Since AS itself shows a range or spectrum of symptom severity, many individuals who might meet criteria for that diagnosis are viewed as "unusual" or "just different." A few of the typical traits of Asperger Syndrome are (1)impaired use of nonverbal behaviors to regulate social interaction, (2) restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, and (3) preoccupation with parts of objects.

Some may view these as negative traits, and granted they do make life more challenging, but someone with Asperger Syndrome can't just shy away from the world because of their disorder. They still have to face the "normal" things in life – like work. The question is, how can someone with Asperger Syndrome turn their autistic traits into something positive in the workplace?

There are many job opportunities that really do suit someone with Asperger Syndrome. The key is to find what the AS individual is passionate about and what their talents are, then look for job opportunities that would support that. For instance, someone with AS is usually socially challenged, but there are many jobs that require solitude. About.com posted an excellent article, Autisitic Traits: A Plus for Many Careers, that mentions different autistic traits and jobs that might work out well for these individuals.

Living life with Asperger Syndrome is full of challenges, but by making the right choices and using the talents that you have available to you, you will continue to get the most out of life. Visit my webpage Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Going Over the Edge? is Going Worldwide

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


My book, "Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?" has been gaining more international attention recently. This doesn’t surprise me because when I posted the first chapter on my website three years ago I received emails from readers around the world. I am thrilled to see that my book is more readily available to those outside the US.

For Europeans, Eurospan Bookstore has made Going Over the Edge? available for purchase on their website. The website includes the book forward by Stephen Shore, the introduction, the first three chapters, and the front and back cover.

If you live in India, Flipkart.com has added my book to their inventory. They ship throughout India, but you must pay in rupees.

I have added these links to the Asperger Syndrome Recommended Links on my website for future reference. I will continue to keep you posted on any more exciting updates!

Autism Numbers Are Skyrocketing

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


According to the latest CDC (Center for Disease Control) report, autism numbers are rising. There has been a 57% increase in autism cases in the last four years and it has been stated that 1% of American 8 year old children are being diagnosed with autism. With these kind of numbers, the CDC is recognizing autism to be a major health issue. Many are hoping that this type of information will spark more national attention and additional funding.

Numbers and figures like these are very important for parents and the medical community. Parents need to be alert to the signs and symptoms of autism. They should not be shy to investigate their concerns. The sooner a parents knows if their child has autism, the sooner proper care can be administered. With statistics on the rise, it is very likely that concerned parents have a reason to be worried and are not just paranoid. It is my hope that doctors will continue to be proactive and investigate on an individual and national level.

Please click here to read more about this new research. If you are interested in speaking to a health care professional about autism or Asperger Syndrome, contact my office for more information or visit Therapy FAQ on my website.

Tips for Traveling with an Autistic Family Member

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Tips for Children

When you have an Autistic or Asperger’s child, the idea of traveling can feel like a daunting task. One of the main symptoms of autism is the need for a routine, and traveling can throw routine right out the window. But it is not always possible to stay confined at home. So, is traveling possible or even advisable with an autistic child?

Absolutely! I was inspired by Gina Degiudice-Asch, a mother with a 16 year old autistic son. The New York Times posted a video interview (produced by Miki Meek) with Gina discussing how she overcomes the challenges of traveling with her autistic son Andrew. She shares excellent travel tips that have worked for their family trips – such as planning in advance and adjusting how they travel. What I also found interesting was that traveling has helped Andrew grow and blossom as a young person. He has become more adaptable and now at 16, traveling has become much easier.

Tips for Adults

Traveling with an Autistic or Asperger adult can be just as daunting as traveling with an Autistic child. The need for structure and the usual routines is just as prominent for adults on the Spectrum as for children. How about the AS adult who has to count every bag multiple times and worries himself sick that the bags will get lost in transit? Or the frantic AS adult whose stress mounts with each passenger that boards ahead of him on the plane . . . worrying that there will be no more space in the overhead bin? The last thing you need is a full blown meltdown at the airport with security so tight these days.

One woman discovered this cure. Wherever she goes with her AS husband the couple has decided that they can take no more than one bag . . . and it must be a carry on. Secondly, at the gate, she notifies the airline gate attendant that her spouse has an Autism Spectrum Disorder and that he requires priority seating because of his extreme anxiety. If further explanation is necessary, she explains what an adult meltdown will look like. No problem, they are seated even before the first class passengers, so her husband can find the perfect spot to store his bag.

Planning in advance and making necessary adjustments are critical when traveling with an autistic family member. Take a few extra steps before you leave and you’ll ensure a more relaxing trip for everyone!


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