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Kathy Marshack News

Coping With Asperger Eccentric Mannerisms and Behavior

Friday, April 11, 2014


Asperger Syndrome MeetupPeople with Asperger’s Syndrome often develop mannerisms and behaviors that can be very distracting and even annoying to Neuro-Typical family members. There are a number of reasons why they display this behavior. One reason is that their senses are overly stimulated. Another reason is that these Asperger mannerisms are a way of creating order in their disrupted world.

For example, their over-sensitivity to touch may make them picky about what clothes they wear – it needs to be soft with the tags removed. They don’t like strong smells, bright lights, loud noises, and most foods. Aspies rigidly crave routine so any variations in their schedule upset them. The same plate has to be used for dinner, objects must be lined up in a repetitive manner, certain items must never be moved, and the list of Asperger eccentricities goes on and on.

What’s up with these eccentricities? Why does one person eat an orange by peeling the membrane off of each segment and then eats one kernel at a time? Why does another collect lint and roll it into a ball to keep in a jar? And still others hoard everything that comes into the house? Nothing can be thrown away, even shoes that are holey and beyond the point of wearing.

What can family members do to deal with these Asperger mannerisms so that it doesn’t drive you crazy? You can find ways to accept these eccentricities if you understand the reason behind this Asperger behavior. Sharing information about “What’s Up with these Aspie Eccentricities” is the topic for our next Portland, Oregon Meetup on Saturday, April 19, 2014.

The same topic will be discussed on our Teleconference Meetup – Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with AS on Friday, April 25, 2014. If you are a Neuro-Typical family member who needs someone to talk with that truly understands what you’re going through, please join us in this discussion. We’re here to support you. These calls are uniting our members from around the world from Canada, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Great Britain, South America and more!

For greater understanding of your relationship with your Asperger’s Syndrome family member, check out my book, Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD). It picks up where my first book, Going Over the Edge? left off and goes into more depth about the science behind Asperger’s.

Is There “Shame” in being Married to Someone with Asperger’s?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Asperger Syndrome Parnters and Family of Adults with ASDLet me say this right up front…No, I don’t think it’s shameful to acknowledge that your spouse suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, a highly functioning form of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Nor is it shameful that your spouse has Asperger’s. But, the shame associated with living with Aspies can be extreme for some.

There’s such a stigma against being “labeled” Asperger or Autistic, that Aspies may fear losing their standing in the community or their business relationships, so they don’t want anyone to know of the diagnosis, if indeed they consent to being diagnosed at all. This puts pressure on the Neuro-typical family members to hide what their lives are really like. In fact, Neuro-typicals are terrified to come out of the closet and talk about their lives.

NT family members work so hard to please the person on the spectrum that they aren’t able to live their authentic selves. The Aspie thinks everything is fine and normal, but you can see your friends having loving relationships and you know that’s not what you have. Yet, you may start doubting yourself, thinking that maybe it is your fault, blaming yourself that you’re unlovable and unreasonable in your expectations. The pressure of keeping it secret and not having anyone who understands to talk to can make you question your own sanity.

This situation is so similar to the cycle of abuse. The victim is terrified to confront the abuser. They fear retaliation. But even worse, they fear that they are wrong about the abuse . . . and the abuser.

Sadly the nature of living in these relationships is that they cause confusion and defensiveness and shame. If we are to restore our lives to sanity, we need to be honest about our feelings and our situation. This doesn't mean blame and it doesn't mean shame. It means facing the problem squarely and developing a solution that works.

If you are a member of our Meetup group, Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Families of Adults with ASD, please join us for “The Skeleton in the Closet”. We’ll be discussing questions such as…why are we afraid to discuss our feelings or complain about our Aspie family members…and why are we afraid to admit we have failed in our relationships? Our Local Meetup will be on March 15th at 1:00pm PST.

The International Teleconference will be on March 28th at 2:30pm PST. Our first Teleconference was greeted with heartfelt thanks. One member wrote, “It is a small world when we all share the same difficulties, whether we're in London or LA. I think the teleconference was fantastic and absolutely historic. Look forward to talking to you all again in March!”

To be a member of Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Families of Adults with ASD Meetup you must be a Neuro-typical family member who loves and cares for an adult with Asperger Syndrome because we meet to openly discuss issues and concerns without hindrance of saving someone’s feelings. After joining the group you will receive an email with all the details. Join me on Facebook and let me know your thoughts on this.

Is It Codependency if You’re just Trying to Survive your Autism Spectrum Relationship?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


meetup is it codependency if you're just trying to survive your autism spectrum relationshipWhen we love someone, we like to do nice things for that person even if it means sacrificing something that we want at times. But the operative words to indicate a healthy relationship are “at times”. There’s a balance of give and take. If on the other hand, you find that you are doing it all of the time, then you’re dealing with codependency.

Codependence is defined as “a state of mind where you put your needs and dreams aside in order to help the other person have a life. In a codependent relationship, no matter how much you give, the other person does not return the favor. Yet you keep on giving and getting more fatigued, frustrated and resentful.”

You make a lot of sacrifices for your family member who is on the Autism Spectrum. You become an expert at reading labels so your pantry is gluten free. You relearn how to cook and bake your family favorites with gluten free flours. You snip all of the labels from your AS husband's shirts. You pay for a laundry delivery service because your AS wife can’t handle it. You soundproof the "den" so your Aspie preteen can scream. You graciously sidestep every confrontation. You drink an extra glass of wine to calm your nerves.

At what point is it codependency? Is it really codependency if you are just trying to survive?

More to the point is the question: Who is there for you? If you are always giving and never getting what you need, you will eventually experience burnout. You need to explore self-care. See that your needs are met. Since your AS spouse or child loves you but has no idea how you tick, it’s important to make your beliefs and needs known in concrete ways.

This ongoing issue of dancing around the needs of your family members on the Autism Spectrum will be discussed at our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Families of Adults with ASD Meetup, “Is It Codependency if You’re just Trying to Survive?” Make plans now to join us on Saturday, February 15, 2014.

Learn more about Asperger Syndrome and Relationships on my website.

In an Asperger Relationship? Learn How to Heal Your Broken Heart

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


All relationships have their ups and downs. When Asperger Syndrome becomes part of the mix, the challenges easily mount. Relationships are built on communication and showing love, affection and empathy, all of which are difficult for the Aspie partner. It’s no wonder that broken dreams and broken hearts crop up in these relationships. While many NT/Aspie marriages can work, many others end in divorce. Either way, the NT partner can become worn out from trying so hard to make it work. In addition, friends and family may not understand what you’re going through and your children may even blame you for the difficulties in the family because all they see is that you’re tired and irritable.

Just about the time you think you have healed your heart from the grief of shattered dreams, something else pops up and whaps you in the head. It can be a holiday, or a piece of dinnerware, or your Aspie-ism that triggers your grief and takes you by surprise. Those feelings don't ever really go away. They surface again and again and wear you out.

On Saturday, October 19, 2013, we’ll be meeting in Portland, Oregon so we can discuss, “Healing Your Broken Heart.” At this Meetup we’ll share strategies for healing ourselves. We’ll explore how it’s possible to carry on by growing emotionally and making new spiritual connections, so you can create a new more beautiful and exuberant life. I encourage as many as possible to attend. If you cannot, visit our private Meetup page and join our online community. We’ll be sharing what we learn there.

For more information about Asperger’s and Marriage - Download a free sample chapter of Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge.

Lack of Empathy - How To Love Your Asperger Partner

Thursday, May 09, 2013


When you love and care for an adult with Asperger Syndrome, you need a safe place to share your story about the frustrating and isolating life that you experience. Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD has proved to be a valuable resource and a safe environment to share intimate and delicate scenarios that only those who live that life can understand.


On May 18, 2013, we will be meeting to discuss the topic, "How to love an abusive person." There is a reason why Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen published a book entitled, "The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty." While he believes that Aspies have good intentions, he attributes their socially clueless behavior to lack of empathy. When on the receiving end of this lack of empathy, many neuro-typicals (non Asperger's) view these behaviors as unloving and even abusive. The question becomes, if the intention is not to cause harm, is it still abuse? Furthermore, how do you hold love in your heart for a person who consistently breaks your heart?


Please join us for an in depth look at this subject. If you will not be able to attend in person, please become a member of our online community. I look forward to hearing your stories.


My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge is available for purchase. Click here to download a free sample chapter. 

 


Your Response to Addiction – Is It Codependency or Kindness?

Friday, March 22, 2013


When an individual becomes addicted to drugs, alcohol, or another unwise behavior, the remaining family members are faced with a decision – what do we do? Often times a codependent relationship ensues. Why? Because kindness and codependency are often confused.


The reason it is so easy to confuse kindness and co-dependency is that they are essentially the same behavior within different contexts. To be kind means to give unconditionally, to share, to show that you care for another person. When the giving, sharing and caring is reciprocated by a healthy individual, the condition is kindness. However, when the kindness is not reciprocated, when you find yourself giving and giving and giving, it may be co-dependency.


How can you stop this behavior? If you love someone who is in trouble, why can't you help them? The key word here is help. If you are doing all of the work toward solving a problem, what is the other person learning? If you stop helping in a co-dependent way, you may offer your loved one the chance to show you they can solve the problem themselves. A key lies in respect – if you respect your loved one, then trust that they can take responsibility for their faults and clean them up. In other words, show the chemically dependent person that you respect them enough to let them show you what they are made of. If they have the right stuff, they will clean up their own act. In fact, the very act of turning the problem back to the person who created it, frees both of you to take responsibility for your own actions.


So how do you tell the difference between co-dependence and kindness? Well, one feels bad and the other feels good. One covers up the real problem, while the other brings the problem to the surface. One destroys self-esteem, while the other encourages self-esteem. Since you have a choice, the choice seems pretty simple. Choose positive self-esteem, honesty in solving problems, and taking and giving appropriate responsibility for one's actions. However, if you sense that you can’t break the cycle of codependence on your own get help from a trusted mental health advisor. 


For more information - visit Marriage Counseling - Breaking the Cycle of Codependence

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.

A Word of Encouragement to Neuro-Typical's With Aspie Partners

Saturday, December 17, 2011


When Asperger Syndrome is part of a couple’s relationship the challenges easily mount. The neurotypical (NT) partner often ends up feeling misunderstood, frustrated, isolated and unloved. These negative emotions can create a perfect recipe for guilt. Which is why it’s critical that NTs erase the guilt!

The reason I say this is because many NTs that I’ve worked with report feelings of guilt. Guilt can come in different forms. Some say they have an excruciatingly difficult time staying or leaving their Aspie partner. Even more amazingly, many NTs report that years after their divorce, they are still grieving even though they don't really miss their former partner . . . exactly. What is this about? Behind unremitting grief is often guilt regarding the unresolved marital problems.

You must learn to give yourself the gift of forgiveness and acceptance. If you learn anything from the experts around the world, they all agree that living and loving a partner with Asperger Syndrome is extremely challenging and often times exhausting. At times the NT partner becomes so distraught that they engage in all kinds of irrational behavior. Instead of guilt or any other negative emotion, give yourself the gift of love, forgiveness, and acceptance and possibly even a huge Badge of Courage.

What are some practical ways to do this? Join a support group, spend some quality time with a friend, exercise, or do whatever you like to do to recharge. Just do me a favor, try it! I guarantee that you will feel much better. For more information about how to cope with an Aspie partner, download a free sample chapter of my book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?

Divorce and Asperger Syndrome

Monday, August 08, 2011


Sadly, divorce is common in Asperger marriages. It has been described that being in a marriage with someone with Asperger Syndrome (AS) is like walking on eggshells. What does that mean? For example, men with undiagnosed AS often feel as if their spouse is being ungrateful when she complains he is uncaring or never listens to her. He knows what he thinks and how he feels, so should she. He has no motive to understand her interior world so her complaints are bothersome to him. He can come to be quite defensive when she asks for clarification or a little sympathy because he knows that he has good intentions so he resents the pressure. The defensiveness can turn into verbal abuse (and sometimes physical abuse) as the husband attempts to control the communication to suit his view of the world.

So, what can you expect if you divorce an Asperger man? Unfortunately he will probably not understand why the woman wants a divorce and he is likely to be quite angry about it. Not knowing how to handle his distress he may turn the energy into revenge. It is believed that many high conflict divorces are the result of the negativity and obsessing of the AS partner regarding the wrongdoing he perceives of his NT spouse. It is likely to be a long, painful and expensive divorce where all suffer, including the children. Some Aspies however, just leave quietly and never remarry because they cannot quite figure out how to rebuild a life separately from their former spouse. Some NT former wives report that their former husband even still refers to her as his “wife” years after the divorce.

If you are struggling in your Asperger marriage, seeking counseling. Click here for my therapy recommendations for this type of situation. With husband and wife working hard, the marriage may be salvageable. I also recommend reading Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge? This book specifically addresses the touchy issues of sex, rage, divorce and shame and gives a glimpse of the “inner workings” of these relationships. It offers new ways to look at the situations presented, as well as tips on how to handle similar situations in one’s own life. Click here to download a FREE sample chapter.

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.


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