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Kathy Marshack News

Prepare for Traveling with an Autistic Child

Monday, November 05, 2012


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in 88 children are on the autism spectrum. Because of this staggering statistic, there has been a major push to provide awareness throughout the community. In response to this growing awareness, the travel industry is taking note. 

Traveling with an autistic child can be overwhelming to both child and parent. In order to ease the stress of traveling, certain airports in the country are providing "mock boarding" experiences. This free program offers a trial run of what it is like to buy tickets, go through security, and buckling up on a plane that never takes off. Washington Dulles International Airport as well as Atlanta, Boston, Bridgeport, Manchester, Philadelphia, and Newark have offered this special program.  

TSA also provides a hotline - TSA Cares (1-855) 787-2227. Call 72 hours before your flight to let them know that you are in need of assistance. Try requesting use of the handicap line. Also, alert your airline. Keep in mind that not everyone will be compassionate to your situation. While awareness is growing, there are still many who do not understand. Do you best to be prepared, but realize there is only so much you can control. 

For more information and travel tips, I recommend reading The New York Times Article - Testing Autism and Air Travel. You may also be interested in my soon-to-be-released book,
 “Out of Mind - Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome,” click here to download a sample chapter. 


How Genes Impact Autism

Friday, October 12, 2012


Autism is a mystery that’s slowly being uncovered by the tireless work of researchers around the globe. Current research is zeroing in on whether genetics plays a role in autism and how genes impact the brain. 

 

Researchers at UCLA have focused their attention on a genetic mutation in the MET receptor tyrosine kinase gene that has proven to cause susceptibility to Autism. According to an article in UCLA’s newsroom here is what they found:

 

"For the first time, the researchers showed that the so-called "C" variant, which reduces MET protein expression, specifically impacts the network of connections among different areas of the brain involved in social behavior, including recognizing emotions shown on people's faces. While this gene variation is commonly found in the brains of both health individuals and those with ASD, the study showed that the gene has a bigger impact on brain connectivity in children with ASD. 

 

Their findings provide new insight into understanding ASD heterogeneity — the considerable individual differences in how ASD symptoms present — which has challenged the field in developing more effective diagnostic tools and biologically based interventions for all affected children. Eventually, genetic information may be useful in identifying subgroups of individuals with ASD who may better respond to different types of treatment."

 

The more information scientists uncover, the easier it will be to find the right kind of treatment for ASD. For more information on a high functioning form of ASD - visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions.

 


Scientists Link Genetic Mutations in Older Fathers to Autism

Friday, September 07, 2012


There has been plenty of controversy surrounding possible causes of autism and other disorders like schizophrenia. The New York Times Online posted a particularly newsworthy article about the link between these disorders and a father's age.

The study shows that genetic mutations are higher later in life. A child born to a male in their 20's had an average of 25 mutations. The mutations grew 2 per year. A male in their 40's had an average of 65 random mutations. Mothers showed a steady rate of 15 mutations regardless of age. Experts are saying that maybe 20-30% of these mutations may be linked to autism and schizophrenia.

Experts also say that this information may change when someone chooses to have children, but shouldn’t be a reason to not have children later in life. Of course, there are other possible factors that could cause these disorders in children. For more information on the study, read Father's Age Linked to Autism and Schizophrenia.

If your child has been diagnosed with autism or schizophrenia, psychotherapy can help. Contact my office to set up an appointment if you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area.

Autism's Context Blindness

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Mind blindness has become a common phrased used to explain the lack of empathy exhibited by individuals with autism. It has been used to explain the disconnect between social and emotional cognition. The facts are clear to an individual with autism, but non verbal communication or body language is lost due to mind blindness. Understanding mind blindness has been a critical part to understanding the autistic brain. According to some new research...there may be another type of blindness known as context blindness.

Dr. Peter Vermeulen discusses context blindness is his new book, Autism as Context Blindness. Vermeulen says, "The term context has its own intriguing historical context. Context comes from the Latin word contextus, the past continuous tense of contexere, which means to 'weave' or 'entwine.'" Context shapes our responses to life. For a person without autism (referred to as a neuro-tyical in the autistic world), life is relative or depends on the context. For someone with autism, life is absolute. Absolute is necessary to certain aspects in life, but not when it comes to social interaction.

NT's are always in the process of weaving a tapestry of relationships within relationships. Other people are how we come to know ourselves and our lives. NT's feel bereft without the connecting that is so important to us. Aspies cannot see the forest for the trees.

We will be discussing Context Blindness on September 15, 2012 at 1:00 in Portland, Oregon for the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD. Until then, pick up a copy of Autism as Context Blindness or click here to read Dr. Vermeulen's article: Autism: From Mind Blindness to Context Blindness. This new light may prove to be ground breaking.

My upcoming book, Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Mind, Out of Sight will discuss context blindness with regard to parenting with an Asperger partner. Click here to read a free sample chapter. 

Interview in “Everyday Health” – Coping with a Partner’s Asperger’s Syndrome

Friday, July 20, 2012


I was recently interviewed for an article in Everyday Health about Asperger Syndrome and relationships. The article is entitled, "Coping with a Partner's Asperger's Syndrome." I address the unique challenges that this situation creates as well as fours ways to cope when your partner has Asperger Syndrome.

Included in the article are two real life individuals with Asperger partners. Sharing these intimates details requires courage and I applaud them for sharing. There is also a nice plug for our local support group: Asperger Syndrome: Partner's and Family of Adults with ASD.

For more information about Asperger relationships, visit my website - Asperger's & Marriage. My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge? is also available.

Did You Grow Up with a Asperger Parent?

Monday, July 02, 2012


Asperger Syndrome is a high functioning form of autism. This diagnosis can sometimes go unnoticed and the individual is classified as being "different" or "unusual." Times are changing and more and more are recognizing that they either have Asperger Syndrome or that their spouse or parent have Asperger's. Either way, adjusting to this realization is challenging.

Did you grow up with an Aspie parent? How did being raised in an Asperger environment affect you? As a licensed psychologist who specializes in working with neuro-typicals or NT's (a term given to non-Aspie's), I have found this to be a unique situation and I do not mean that lightly. This is especially true of those raised by an Aspie parent. I have found that these individuals feel like they do not fit in the typical NT world or in the Aspie world yet they are sensitive to both. They crave an emotional connection with their parent, but feel convinced that nobody will truly understand who they are. What a conundrum!

You are not alone if you have felt this way before. I am overwhelmed by the response I have received from many NT's with Aspie parents. Connecting with others who have been in your shoes will not only provide comfort in an uncomfortable situation, but may help you to learn more about yourself. Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Support Group is an excellent medium for any who find themselves in this situation. Please join us for our monthly Meet Up if you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area. We will be meeting on July 21, 2012 to discuss what it is like being raised by an Asperger parent. If you are unable to attend, please visit on online page and become a member. The online support is incredible.

For more information on Asperger Syndrome, visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions.

New Drugs in the Works for Treating Autism

Thursday, June 21, 2012


This week a deal is in the works between a Swiss pharmaceutical company, Roche, and Seaside Therapeutics. They are planning on developing treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder and Fragile X Syndrome. Even though these disorders are different, they share similar symptoms. The anticipation for a drug to alleviate symptoms of ASD or Fragile X are high. Another company, Novartis, is also working on a similar drug. To learn more about these companies and their plans, read Competitors Form Partnership to Develop Autism Drug.

Time will tell if these types of treatments will prove to be effective or not. Whenever you are dealing with taking medication, it is always important to discuss it thoroughly with your doctor. Often times, medication can be abused or used incorrectly. Look for a mental health care professional who specializes in these types of developmental disorders. There are many therapy options that can work in conjunction with medication.

To learn more about these therapies, visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions and Psychotherapy Options.

Sweat the Small Stuff When Co-Parenting With an Asperger Partner

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Have you ever heard the expression, "Don't sweat the small stuff?" I'm sure you have. Sadly this expression does not work if you are co-parenting with an Asperger partner. (Asperger Syndrome is a high form of autism. Common symptoms include lack of empathy, impaired use of nonverbal behavior to regulate social behavior, and lack of social and emotional reciprocity. For more information, visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions)

When you are in a relationship with an Aspie and co-parenting, your life is turned upside down every day because of the "small stuff." Small stuff is the problem and if you ignore it, it may lead to dire consequences. What can you do to work through this problem? Learn to attend to the things that you can and let the rest go. Easier said than done, right?

You may not be able to change the situation you are in, but you can change how to react or respond. In order to do this in a healthy and positive way, you must take care of yourself. Learn all that you can about Asperger Syndrome. Doing this will help you somewhat to detach from emotional distress you face while dealing with the small things. Also, take out a little time for yourself every day. That may sound impossible, but if you do not, you will spiral down into a dark place and then who will be there for your family? So, prioritize and drop the rest.

My upcoming book is entitled, Parenting with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Mind, Out of Sight. A FREE sample chapter is available for download. You can also checkout my AAPC bestseller, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?, which focuses on relationships and marriage with an Asperger partner.

If you live in the area you can join me May 19, 2012 at 1:00 PM in Portland, Oregon for the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Support Group. We will be discussing, "Would we marry them again?"

Autism Awareness Month is April

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Even though the month of April will be ending very soon, I wanted to remind all of you that April is Autism Awareness Month. The Autism Society has been celebrating this since the 1970's. Some of the latest statistics are staggering. With an increase of 10% in the last 40 years, 1 in 88 American children are being diagnosed with a form of autism. Studies also find that more boys are being diagnosed than girls, a ratio of 5 to 1.

Even though there is still much to uncover about this puzzling neurodevelopmental disorder there is also much that has been accomplished. For instance, while it is still unclear as to what causes autism, great strides have been made in regards to treating autism. One that I have found to be particularly interesting was the use of electronics like iPads.

We also have seen many "heroes" who have made it their aim to do what they can to make a difference. I recently wrote about Joseph Sheppard who has been diagnosed with a high functioning form of autism called Asperger Syndrome. He is working to give people with ASD a better future. This is just one example of the many. There are doctors, teachers, parents, and many others who are using their circumstances to make a difference.

As another Autism Awareness comes and goes, think about all the people who are working hard for this disorder. If you know any of them personally, take a moment to thank them for their hard work. If your circumstances allow, look into how you can make a difference. Every little bit helps!

A Unique Take on an Autism Diagnosis

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


The Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) published the latest autism statistics last week. According to the report, 1 in 88 American children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This includes high-functioning forms of autism such as Asperger Syndrome. Compared to statistics 10 years ago, there has been a 78 % increase. The reasons for this increase is unknown, but greater autism awareness is sure to play a part. Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder. The range of severity on the autism spectrum is expansive. To learn more about high-functioning autism or Asperger Syndrome, click here.

CNN.com posted a fascinating profile of a 42 year old man with high-functioning autism named Joseph Sheppard. I thought this profile was worth writing about because of the attitude Joseph has regarding his disorder. After being diagnosed just six years ago, Joseph finally received clarity. He expressed that he felt his behaviors were a bit odd. Now he had the missing piece to the puzzle.

What impresses me most about Joseph is the fact that he chose to take his diagnosis and run with it. Instead of feeling stuck with a label, he embraced it even referring it to his "inner splendor." Now he is an advocate for others with autism. An excerpt from CNN Profile, Joseph says, " What I choose to do is change the course of the future for persons with autism, because I believe in them and I believe, given the right support and environment, they will be a strong force in repairing the world."

If you have been diagnosed with high-functioning autism, you can likewise choose to be like Joseph. If you are struggling to adjust to your diagnosis, I recommend seeking help from a mental health care professional who works with autism. Contact my office for more information or visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions.


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