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Kathy Marshack News

Are Mental Disorders More Prevalent in Children of Older Fathers?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


kids of older dads may be more prone to mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, autism and schizophreniaMany men postpone having children until they are financially established. As a result, they are becoming parents in their 30’s, 40’s and even 50’s. We’ve known for years that women aged 40 and over run a greater risk of having children who are autistic. Now, according to a recently published study, the age of the father may also be a factor in the increase of mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, autism and schizophrenia.

Science reporter, Benedict Carey reported on this hotly debated issue in a recent New York Times article. The study was conducted in Sweden and compared siblings within families. The children born when the father was young differed from the children that came years later. They found that the risk for mental disorders rose as the paternal age increased.

Why may this be happening? The article explains:
“Any increased risk due solely to paternal age is most likely a result of the accumulation of genetic mutations in sperm cells. Unlike women, who age with a limited number of eggs, men have to replenish their supply of sperm cells. Studies suggest that the cells’ repeated reproductions lead to the accumulation of random errors over time, called de novo mutations. Most such mutations are harmless, geneticists say, but some have been linked to mental disorders.”

Should you be concerned? This certainly shouldn’t panic you. We have to be careful how studies are interpreted. It would be unfounded to jump to the conclusion that producing children after the age of 30 means they are certain to having mental disorders. But it’s good to be aware that this may be a contributing factor. And it should be included in your discussion as a couple about whether or not you want to have children.

There’s no guarantee that any child will be born without serious health problems. The issue is how will you handle the challenge if your child does suffer a birth defect or has a mental disorder. My advice is not to worry excessively, but if you see indications that your child is not responding as he or she should be, seek the advice of a professional who is trained in diagnosing such disorders. Working closely with your child’s pediatrician, these professionals will be able to assess the situation, educate you on what the diagnosis means and help you and your child to cope as a family.

Are you looking for guidance regarding your relationship with a family member with Asperger Syndrome? For further Autism Spectrum Disorder resources see Remote Education Asperger Relationships.

Tips on Finding the Right Support Group For You

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Finding the Best Support Group for YouWe all need someone to talk with that understands our unique situation and non-judgmentally supports us as we travel through our journey of life. A good Support Group will provide you with needed emotional support and often give you information on the latest treatment or research on your particular concern. In today’s technological world, you can either attend a local Support Group in person or you can join an online Support Group.

But you may have some questions before joining … How can you be sure the group you’re joining is going to be a healthy environment for you? What are some ways of identifying a good Support Group? I found an informative article written by John Grohol Psy.D, founder of PsychCentral.com that can help you identify characteristics of a good Support Group. Some of these are listed below:

A good Support Group has a community that is stable. You can determine this by how well it’s moderated and how long it’s been functioning. A group that has a moderator AND an administrative team will be able to continually bring new resources to you without the group leader burning out and shutting the group down.

Find a Support Group with members who are welcoming, non-judgmental and open to sharing. You want to be encouraged, not discouraged, in your chosen group.

The best Support Group has a non-techy, user-friendly site. If you’re stressing out over the tech stuff, you won’t be reaping any benefits from the group.

A reasonable Support Group clearly posts its guidelines and rules of conduct so everyone knows the boundaries of what’s acceptable and what’s not.

A secure Support Group guards your privacy so nothing you say is splashed across the worldwide web inadvertently.

Look for a Support Group that offers you the features that are important to you. Are you interested in just reading what people have posted or do you desire more, such as mood tracking tools, treatment or product reviews, or a live chat room?

I facilitate two very supportive and secure Meetups. One is for Entrepreneurial Couples and Families. The other is for Partners & Family of Adults with Asperger Syndrome. Both of these Groups have local Meetups and International Teleconferences that are uniting members around the world.

I’m very excited about my newest Support Group – a Meetup for ENTREPRENEURS-Making It Work for Couples and Families. We focus on learning to balance Work and Love, the two things entrepreneurial families cherish most. The local Meetup is held once a month in Vancouver, Washington.

The Meetup for Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with AS has been supporting Neuro-Typicals who care for adult Aspie family since 2009. At our last call our international AS Group included people from around the globe. The local Meetup is held once a month in Portland, Oregon.

I am passionate about providing ongoing education for these two diverse topics. My team and I are working hard to provide you with a secure environment the gives the support you crave and deserve. If you have any questions about either one of these Meetup Support Groups, please feel free to contact us.

April – Autism Awareness Month – What Can We Do About It?

Thursday, April 10, 2014


april autism awarenessEvery time I look at the statistics for the number of people with Autism it changes, and not for the better. Back in 2006 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that it was 1 in 110. In 2008 it was 1 in 88. As of March 24, 2014 the CDC, declares that 1 in 68 children have been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

They cited studies to support the following data:

  • “If one identical twin has ASD, the other will be affected about 36-95% of the time.
  • If one non-identical twin has ASD, the other is affected about 0-31% of the time. 
  • If one child has ASD, there’s a 2%–18% chance the second child will also.
  • About 10% of children with autism are also identified as having Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, or other genetic and chromosomal disorders.
  • 46% of children identified with ASD have average to above average intellectual ability.
  • Children born to older parents are at a higher risk for having ASD.
  • On average, children identified with ASD were not diagnosed until after age 4, even though children can be diagnosed as early as age 2.
  • Parents of children with ASD notice a developmental problem before their child's first birthday. Concerns about vision and hearing were more often reported in the first year, and differences in social, communication, and fine motor skills were evident from 6 months of age.”

Since this disorder is so prevalent, it’s important to educate ourselves about it. Teachers and first responders such as police, fire, and EMT personnel especially need special skills to help those with ASD.

April 2nd was Autism Awareness Day and many joined Autism Speaks in their Light It Up Blue initiative. In honor of this 7th annual United Nations sanctioned commemoration, many landmarks, buildings, and structures “went blue”.

During this Autism Awareness Month, let’s express appreciation for 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! Then join me on Facebook and share with our community what you’ve done. It’s time to toot your own horn and encourage others to take action, too.

I’m passionate about providing education that will lead to the betterment of lives. Recently I’ve made myself available for providing Remote Education so many more people can be reached with this important information. Please, check out my Remote Education on Asperger Relationships

, a high functioning form of ADS, to learn more about this service.


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.

The High Cost of Special Education for Children with Autism

Monday, March 03, 2014


special education for children with autism spectrum disorderWhile more states are passing laws that mandate treatment of autism to be covered by insurance, there are more than medical costs associated with autism. One area of growing concern is the amount our school systems are shouldering in order to teach children with autism.

CNN Medical Supervising Producer, Caleb Hellerman recently wrote about the Harvard School of Public Health report that estimates conservatively that the dollar cost of an autism diagnosis is more than $17,000 a year through age 17. $8,610 of that amount is what the educational system is picking up annually.

Children with autism (ASD) require different forms of Special Ed services. Some need one-on-one attention from a teacher, others can be placed in a small group setting, while others can be fully integrated into a classroom.

In the year 2000, there were federal grants for special Ed totaling $5 billion. In the year 2005 it went up to $12 billion. Since then the amount has been dropping, as can be seen from the fact that in 2013 the Special Education Personnel Preparation program only received $84 million in federal funding.

Michael Ganz, Assistant Professor of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health, released the following information about the direct and indirect cost of Autism in 2006: “The Direct costs of Autism include direct medical costs, such as physician and outpatient services, prescription medication, and behavioral therapies (estimated to cost, on average, more than $29,000 per person per year) and direct non-medical costs, such as special education, camps, and child care (estimated to annually cost more than $38,000 for those with lower levels of disability and more than $43,000 for those with higher levels).

Indirect costs equal the value of lost productivity resulting from a person having autism, for example, the difference in potential income between someone with autism and someone without, and the value of lost productivity for an autistic person’s parents due to reduced work hours or not working altogether. The estimated annual indirect costs for autistic individuals and their parents range from more than $39,000 to nearly $130,000.”

The financial cost of autism is hard to pin down. Some say that autism costs a family $60,000 annually. Whatever the amount, it’s costing all of us not to do all we can to research, diagnose and treat this disorder. Early behavioral training can save society a great deal of money. And doesn’t every child deserve the best care we can give them? Many children who begin treatment before turning three improve to the point where they are able to thrive right alongside their fellow classmates.

Please join me on Twitter and share your thoughts as we continue the discussion on the cost of Autism to families, school districts, and taxpayers. Please use #autism and @KathyMarshack in your comments so I see them.

More than 35 States Have Enacted Autism Insurance Reform Laws – Has Yours?

Monday, February 24, 2014


enacted autism insurance reform lawsThis month, Mississippi joins the line up of progressive states that are recognizing the need for enacting autism insurance reform laws as reported on by Emily LeCoz of the ClarionLedger. Their House of Representatives passed it 120-0. As a mental health care provider in Oregon and Washington it’s of interest that Oregon became the 34th state to enact insurance mandated laws. However, Washington at the time of this writing has not yet done so.

The cost of treatment for Autism is a huge financial burden for families. The Harvard School of Public Health estimates conservatively that the dollar cost of an autism diagnosis is more than $17,000 a year through age 17. Medical costs make up less than 20% of that amount.

Are the benefits of these laws being rolled over into the Obama Affordable Care Act?

The rules passed by individual states do not automatically extend to new health insurance Marketplaces. Each state must specifically require it. The Affordable Care Act says that all insurance plans within state Marketplaces must cover 10 essential benefits, including “behavioral health treatment” and “rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices.” However, the Department of Health and Human Services declined to specify treatment of autism as an essential health benefit and is leaving it up to each state to decide.

Many insurance companies in the past have refused to cover behavioral therapy because they consider it experimental or educational. This short-term thinking is failing to take into consideration the fact that early behavioral intervention is essential in a child’s life to make the greatest difference in the health and quality of life as an adult. Rather than treating symptoms, it teaches skills that help children with autism to cope and flourish.

According to a report by The PEW Charitable Trusts, “…Only 24 States and D.C. have applied the same requirements to policies that will be sold on their insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.”

To learn more about your state, check out Autism Speaks State Initiatives. They provide a clickable map plus a list of states so you can see where your state stands on this issue at present. They also list whom you can contact if you wish to show your support.

I’m passionate about providing education that will lead to the betterment of lives. Recently I’ve made myself available for providing Remote Education so many more people can be reached with this important information. Please, check out my Remote Education on Asperger Relationships to learn more about this service.

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.


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