CONTACT MY OFFICE:
(503) 222-6678 - Portland, Oregon
(360) 256-0448 Vancouver, Washington
   info@kmarshack.com

Therapy

ADD & ADHD
ADOPTIVE FAMILIES
ASPERGER & MARRIAGE
COUPLES IN BUSINESS
DEPRESSION & STRESS
ENTREPRENEURIAL LIFE
EXPAT ONLINE THERAPY
HIGH CONFLICT DIVORCE
MARRIAGE COUNSELING
MIND & BODY HEALTH
PARENTING
PERSONAL GROWTH
RECOMMENDED LINKS
NEWS CENTER
ONLINE STORE
Overview
ADD in Adults
Parenting a Child with ADD
Overview
Articles
Overview
Coping with Anxiety Disorders
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Overcoming Depression
Managing Stress
Conquering Fears & Phobias
Overcoming Social Phobia
Overview
Couples at Work & Home
Dual Career Couples
Families in Business
Overview
Recognizing High Conflict Divorce
Overview
Conflict & Communication
Infidelity
Couples at Work & Home
Love, Sex & Intimacy
Maintaining Strong Marriage
Dual Career Couples
Codependence
Advice for Singles Only
Overview
Alcoholism Recovery
Stop Smoking
Weight Control
Headache Relief
Holistic Health
Managing Blood Pressure
Releasing Unresolved Stress
Overview
Am I a Good Parent
Blended Families
Gifted Child
Coping with ADD/ADHD
Adoptive Families
Overview
Gifted Adults
When to Seek Help
Psychotherapy Options
Laid-Off from Work
Overview
Calendar of Events
Media Coverage
Newsletter
Press Center
Seminars
Related New Stories
Subscribe
Sample
Enriching Your Live Archive
Entrepreneurial Couples Archive

Enriching Your Life!

Sign up for my FREE newsletter! Get practical tips for you and your family.

Kathy Marshack News

Can Spiritual Support Help You Cope with Asperger Relationships?

Wednesday, February 04, 2015


spiritual support is essential to maintain hope in your asperger relationshipsWhen caring for someone with Asperger’s, do you put self-care at the top of your list? People who travel by air are instructed, “In case of an emergency, put the air mask on yourself first and then your children or others.” Only in caring for yourself first can you truly care for others. Otherwise you have nothing left to give. Families with member who have Asperger’s Syndrome especially need to attend to and take care of their whole person. That means caring for your whole being - your mind, body and spirit.

Does this mean you need to be religious?

Spirit or spirituality is not synonymous with religion or religious. Church has nothing to do with spirituality directly. Rather the spirit is that part of each human that makes us a distinctive personality. It is the part of us that defines us and yet connects us to others. It has long been known that a strong healthy spirit will guide us successfully through adversity, whereas a conquered spirit will succumb to illness and death. It was Mother Theresa's strong spirit that transcended her small stature and seemingly insignificant role as a nun to profoundly affect thousands of people for the better. In other words, spirit is that singular life force that directs and shapes our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. Therefore, keeping spirit or life force healthy is essential to the process of achieving healthy balance in any life.

Does spiritual practice and spiritual guidance help in your life with Asperger’s Syndrome?

Many of our Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD members post that their church and/or spiritual discipline helps them stay strong and loving. But not all are finding comfort from their religious organizations. In fact, some report the opposite. . .that they feel even more alone. We don't need platitudes. We need unconditional love and support for this life.

Join our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD local Meetup on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 1:00pm PST or our international teleconference Meetup on Friday, February 27, 2015 at 2:30pm PST. We’ll discuss this topic: SPIRITUAL SUPPORT: Does It Help? Let's meet to discuss what works for you whether it is a formal religion, another form of spiritual discipline, or even atheism. What really matters is that we connect and know that we are not alone. . . In the material world or beyond.

Read more on my website: Asperger Syndrome Support and Asperger Relationships Remote Education.

Asperger’s Syndrome and Depression – A Deadly Combination

Monday, January 12, 2015


asperger syndrome and depression is often linked with suicideA large number of adults with Asperger’s Syndrome suffer from depression. Scientists don’t know if this is a result of the struggles and rejections they face in life or if it’s because of the way their brains are hard wired. As Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen said in a recently published study on Asperger’s and depression, “Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome often suffer with secondary depression due to social isolation, loneliness, social exclusion, lack of community services, underachievement, and unemployment.”

What we now know, regardless of the causes, when your loved one has Asperger’s Syndrome and shows symptoms of depression, alarm bells to go off. The study mentioned above found that there’s a significant increase in suicidality among adults with Asperger’s. They are ten times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, suicidal plans and suicidal attempts than the general population, which is even more than those who have psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia.

Up until now, studies on Asperger’s Syndrome and depression have been concentrating on preadolescents, and they show a low rate of suicidal behavior. So, even though previous studies have shown that there’s a link between autism and suicidal thoughts, these findings about adults with AS come as a surprise to many. What concerns me is that many adults with Asperger’s have lived their lives undiagnosed, so they haven’t sought help from a mental health professional unless they’ve experienced severe mood or psychotic changes.

Nomi Kaim of Asperger/Autism Newtwork (formerly Asperger’s Association of New England or AANE) describes poignantly how depression affects someone with Asperger’s. She highlights the paradoxical battle that goes on inside in the following areas of life:

  • Those with Asperger’s focus on and gain comfort from their special area(s) of interest. Depression steals any delight in doing such activities. This leaves an immense sense of emptiness.
  • People with Asperger’s Syndrome deal in concrete, black and white thinking. Depression forces them leave the comfort of these thoughts as they have to learn to deal with overwhelming emotions they are unprepared to handle.
  • People with Asperger’s Syndrome find comfort in being alone. Depression makes it essential to seek out others so they don’t spiral into self-destruction, which causes the pain of socializing to become more pronounced and threatens their sense of being self-sufficient.
  • People with Asperger’s Syndrome hate to be touched. Depression creates a need for physical yearning to be held and comforted, which, in turn, may leave them feeling violated.

This study highlights the need for us to be alert and prompt about seeking professional help for our Aspie loved ones who are depressed. If you live near Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington, please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Together we can create new ways for them to cope with this situation before it becomes a tragedy.

We have the Winners!

Friday, January 09, 2015


coping with partner who has asperger syndrome bookcoping with a spouse with asperger syndromeDuring the month of December I ran a "Feedback" Contest on Facebook asking for your heartfelt thoughts about my two books on the topic of Asperger’s Syndrome. I’m happy to say the winners have been posted on my Facebook page.

Yes! There are two winners! When it came down to the final decision, I just couldn’t decide – so both of these people will receive their own 20 minute remote education call with me during the next few months. I’m really looking forward to getting to know them better. I’m hoping they’ll share with me how I can better serve this NT/AS community.

I just wanted to share with you their winning comments. I’m using initials to protect their privacy.

Jules NZ commented: “Out of Mind – Out of Sight. For me, this book has given me permission to follow my instincts and trust myself again after 30 years of invalidation and dwindling self esteem. The chapters about zero empathy from the Aspie spouse, and invisibility of the NT partner were revelations for me, and there are simply too many other topics that are for me, like gold. This book has become my bible and I refer to it frequently to help me understand the craziness that has been my life, parenting with my Asperger husband.

Going over the Edge has been a life saver for me, I have used the knowledge within to understand and learn about Asperger Syndrome in my relationship with my husband. The practical examples are so easy to relate to when you live this life. Dr Kathy must have been talking about me? how did she know?? I have read this book over and over and each time find another gem to support myself and remind myself I am ok, that what I am experiencing is normal for life with a spouse with Aspergers.”

JB commented: “I read Going Over the Edge. I am married to an undiagnosed man who shows many traits described in the book. I was most impacted by the young girl's drawing and discovering the busy brain. Like most challenges we face if we become aware and accept them they become manageable and even tolerable especially when you know there is support available for you. I don't love my situation but the book did give me hope and settled me down. It caused me to sit back and look at things from a new perspective. I have to read parts of it from time to time to wheel me back in when I start to feel crazy. Thank you.”

Their comments really touched my heart as I can see that my work is truly helping them. And yes, I do consider myself to be one of the winners, since I get to connect with wonderful people like you. Please come on over to my Facebook page and congratulate our winners.

Learn more about Asperger’s Syndrome:

  • Schedule a 20 minute educational call with Dr. Marshack for Asperger Relationships Remote Education.
  • Download a free chapter of Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD).
  • Download a free chapter of Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? Practical Steps to Saving You and Your Relationship.

How to Help Your Asperger Loved One Bridge the Empathy Gap

Thursday, January 01, 2015


help your asperger loved one bridge the empathy gapHave you noticed that your Aspie struggles to understand that someone is “pulling their leg”? Or they’re confused by irony, pretense, metaphor, and deception? Their “mind blindness” and difficulty with empathy cause them to be clueless in social situations such as these and they need help to navigate through them.

Empathy is a complex system of emotional empathy and cognitive empathy and multiple transitions between the two. To help clarify this issue, I wrote an article for PsychCentral discussing the difference between emotional empathy and cognitive empathy and how you can help your loved one bridge the empathy gap. I’d encourage you to click here to read the entire PsychCentral article. (And while you’re there, will you share this information from your favorite social media platform, too?)

Most Neuro-Typicals make the transition between emotional empathy and cognitive empathy very easily, and thereby strike an easy balance between the two. Aspies, on the other hand, find it very difficult to accomplish this. The resulting disconnect between cognitive empathy and emotional empathy really defines Asperger Syndrome.

They struggle to recognize where someone’s distress is coming from (Cognitive Empathy) and they struggle with knowing how awful someone is feeling (Emotional Empathy). And they can’t easily move between the two and they’re unable to put personal needs aside for the moment and reach out to comfort another. Another factor is that true empathy also requires the ability to talk about this integration.

Don’t misunderstand. Those with Asperger’s can be deeply moved by life experiences. Yet they’re unable to speak to those responses through their own mental reasoning. And because those feelings can become so intense without having any way to express them, those with Asperger’s shut down to protect themselves. They avoid eye contact, because it adds to the emotional overload. It’s hard for them to hear your words and change their focus when their feelings are so overwhelming.

Because those with Asperger’s can’t bridge that gap, family member must make a bridge for them with comforting, supportive and loving words. One way to reduce the emotional overload for Aspies and NTs alike is to have a calming and knowledgeable professional to help sort things out.

If you anticipate an emotionally trying time approaching, such as the death of a loved one, a psychologist can help your Aspie reason through what’s happening to himself and to the dying loved one. An objective professional can put words to the emotions that well up. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office and schedule an appointment. With practice in therapy, your family may be able to talk about the events to come and plan a course of action, thereby averting the need for, and the resulting trauma of, any unprepared sudden emotional transition.

New Research: Is the Risk of ASD or ADHD Increased by Taking Depression Medicine during Pregnancy?

Thursday, November 13, 2014


depression and pregnancyResearch shows that genetic factors play a large role in autism spectrum disorder. However, not as much is known about the role of medications prescribed during pregnancy. Do antidepressants and antipsychotics increase the risk of ASD and ADHD? Or is it the mother’s depression a greater contributing factor? That’s what researchers are trying to find out.

New research suggests that increased risk of autism after medication use during pregnancy may actually be reflecting the increased risk associated with severe maternal depression instead. According to SFARI (Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative), “Women who have a history of bipolar disorder or depression are more likely to have a child with Asperger syndrome than classic autism.” They base this statement on a study published in the 2012 issue of Autism Research and Treatment.

PsychCentral reports on a study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers, which discovered, “While a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder was more common in the children of mothers prescribed antidepressants during pregnancy than in those with no prenatal exposure, when the severity of the mother’s depression was accounted for, that increased risk was no longer statistically significant.”  They did, however, discover an increased risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). And antipsychotic drugs sometimes used to treat severe, treatment-resistant depression appeared to increase the risk for autism.

The senior author of the report, Roy Perlis, M.D., M.Sc., M.G.H., made this comment, “Untreated depression can pose serious health risks to both a mother and child, so it’s important that women being treated with antidepressants who become pregnant, or who are thinking about becoming pregnant, know that these medications will not increase their child’s risk of autism.”

Depression is not something you want to ignore because you’re afraid of what medication will do to you or your unborn child. There are a variety of depression treatment options available, with medication and without medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and a holistic health approach are beneficial in helping anxious or depressed people lower medication requirements. Please discuss these options with your doctor. You don’t need to stay in the darkness. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and set up an appointment so we can discuss the best treatment for you.

Wondering if you or someone you love has depression? Take the online PsychCentral Depression Quiz. If depression is indicated, please contact your physician or a mental health professional immediately.

Read more on my website: Overcoming Depression.

How to Protect Your Children and Yourself from Parental Alienation Syndrome

Thursday, November 06, 2014


Parental Alienation SyndromeHave you ever seen children who relentlessly belittle and insult one parent without cause? This is so heartbreaking, yet is becoming more common. It can get so bad that they even view that parent as evil. A person is most likely to see this situation during high conflict divorces where children become pawns in the battle between mom and dad.

Psychiatrist, Richard A. Gardner coined the phrase, “Parental Alienation Syndrome” to identify this behavior. He describes it as…

"A disorder that arises primarily in the context of child custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child's campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent's indoctrinations and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the target parent."

How and why does Parental Alienation Syndrome happen?

Many attorneys and marriage counselors suspect that high conflict divorces involve at least one partner with ASD (or another type of empathy disorder). This is because of the Empathy Disorder. Lack of empathy, unregulated emotions and a desire to control the outcome can lead to alienating the children, without regard for the serious damage the children suffer.

What are some alienation techniques that are used? The magazine Psychology Today lists the following behaviors:

  • “Bad-mouthing the other parent, 
  • Limiting contact with that parent, 
  • Erasing the other parent from the life and mind of the child (forbidding discussion and pictures of the other parent), 
  • Forcing the child to reject the other parent, 
  • Creating the impression that the other parent is dangerous, 
  • Forcing the child to choose between the parents by means of threats of withdrawal of affection, and 
  • Belittling and limiting contact with the extended family of the targeted parent.”

This painful issue of “Parental Alienation Syndrome” causes many to fear divorce, so we will be discussing this problem and how to protect yourself and your children at our next local Meetup - Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with AS on Saturday, November 15. If you live in the Vancouver, WA/ Portland area, please join us. If you’re unable to attend in person, please join the international teleconference on November 21, which will cover the same information for our global community. While not all on the Autism Spectrum will engage in Parental Alienation Syndrome, the underlying empathy disorder is still an issue in any divorce.

How Can You Teach Your Aspie Child to Love?

Tuesday, November 04, 2014


mother teaching autistic son to loveLove seems such a natural part of our lives that we tend to take for granted that our children will learn it as they grow. However, for those who parent children with Asperger Syndrome, it’s far from that easy. In their black and white world they need to have everything explained to them, and that becomes difficult, because love is so many things. Yet teaching love to your child is the most profound work a parent can do.

Because I know how heartbreaking it can be, I want to help as many as possible learn valuable strategies that work. To reach more people, I wrote an article for PsychCentral outlining how, in my practice, I’ve found a very effective way to assist children with Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s by defining the many different types of love for them just as the ancient Greeks did. What are the Greek words for love?

  • Agápe refers to true love.
  • Éros is passionate and romantic love.
  • Philia means friendship.
  • Storge means affection.

In the full article, I show how to explain each one to your child; therefore I really encourage you to click here to read the entire PsychCentral article. (And while you’re there, will you share this information from your favorite social media platform, too?)

Does information like this help you? I’ll let you in on a secret…this article is based on my book: Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD). If you haven’t grabbed your copy yet, you can purchase it as either a kindle edition or paperback. Not only does it have true-life experiences, tips and strategies, it also contains the science behind why they do what they do. If your family member has ASD, this resource will enhance your ability to understand and to cope.

If you’re a neuro-typical person who has an adult family member with Asperger’s Syndrome, think seriously about joining our Asperger Syndrome – Partners and Family of Adults with AS group. If you live in the Vancouver, WA area, join our local meetup. Otherwise, please join our international teleconference, which, I’m excited to announce, now has members from all the continents on this globe except for Antarctica.

Autism Alert: Will Broccoli Sprouts “Cure” Autism?

Monday, October 27, 2014


broccoli sprouts being grown to treat autismNo doubt you were as thrilled as I was to hear the recent news reports about a new treatment for autism…sulforaphane, which is found in cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts. It’s especially abundant in broccoli sprouts. (Watch the CBS News report here. Read the clinical report here.)

The compound, sulforaphane, has been found to be efficacious for protecting cells from the oxidative stress that sets off cancer. It also bolsters the body’s natural defenses and it stimulates the body’s heat-shock response (the way the body protects itself from stress caused by the high temperature from having a fever).

Perhaps you, like other parents, have noted that your children’s autistic behavior improves while they have a fever. In 2007, Dr. Andrew Zimmerman and his team tested this anecdotal trend clinically and found it to be true. This discovery led to the research group studying sulforaphane’s effect on ASD, with very promising results.

Scientists at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine studied the reaction of 40 males (ages 13 to 27, with moderate to severe autism) to a daily dose of sulforaphane compared to those who received a placebo.

During the four weeks of testing, those who received the compound “experienced substantial improvements in their social interaction and verbal communication, along with decreases in repetitive, ritualistic behaviors, compared to those who received a placebo.” Dr Singh noted that, “It appears this supplement corrects underlying cellular problems.” However, once the dosage stopped, all subjects returned to pretreatment levels. This is exciting news!

But before you rush out and start supplementing your child’s diet…here’s a word of caution: Just because this compound is a product of a natural source, the high dosage needed to get results should be given under the supervision of a physician who can do blood work to monitor its effects. The study showed an elevated liver enzyme count, which could possibly be a precursor to liver inflammation. Always talk with your pediatrician before using supplements such as broccoli extract.

Is getting your children to eat more veggies a good idea? Most definitely, yes. It gives the cells the resources they need to heal and provides valuable fiber for proper elimination. Many have also found relief by eliminating foods that contribute to inflammation and toxicity or that trigger immune response such as artificial ingredients, gluten, sugar, and casein. Others have noted improvements by adding digestive enzymes, probiotics, and more fermented foods such as non-dairy yogurt or kefir that heal the damage to the gut.

Learn more on my website: Holistic Health for optimal health practices.

Webinars to Help You Recognize if your Loved One Has Undiagnosed ASD

Thursday, October 16, 2014


help does my husband have autism spectrum disorderDo you suspect your loved one may be on the autism spectrum, yet they haven’t been diagnosed? ASD is more common than most people think. There are large segments of the population that are undiagnosed, which means they are going without the support and intervention they need. There are three groups of people especially who are often unidentified or incorrectly identified for ASD. Who are they?

Females – More males have been diagnosed because the description of ASD is based on what ASD looks like in males. Hence the tools for identifying ASD are skewed and miss females.

High Functioning Individuals – Bright kids with ASD often are dismissed as not needing services until some resulting emotional and behavioral problem arises. Too often they hear, “Just try harder. You can do it.” Then their behavior is addressed without getting to the cause – ASD.

Those with Catatonia – This disorder affects a person’s speech, movement and behavior, often manifested in stupor. Researchers estimate that between 12 to 18 percent of adolescents and young adults with ASD have catatonia (Wing & Shah, 2000). I’m happy to report that Catatonia is now recognized as a specifier for ASD in the DSM-5.

I want to alert you to a resource that may help you recognize whether or not your loved one is in one of these categories of undiagnosed ASD.

There’s going be a webinar series starting on October 20th. It’s produced by The Ziggurat Group with host psychologists, Ruth Aspy, Ph.D. and Barry G. Grossman, Ph.D. They wrote the award winning The Ziggurat Model, a book about designing interventions for students with Asperger’s Disorder and high-functioning autism, which has been adopted at the district-wide and state-wide levels. These webinars will provide strategies and solutions for better identifying and serving each group mentioned above. Each class costs from $50 to $100. This is a small price to pay for changing someone’s life.

Parenting a child with ASD, especially when you’re parenting with an ASD spouse, is no easy task. My new book, Out of Mind - Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD), addresses these issues. Click here for more information.

For more information on Autism Spectrum Disorder, visit Asperger Syndrome - FAQ.

Research Shows That the Autistic Brain Is too “Noisy”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


the autistic brain in too noisy from too many connections being made at one timeFor years I have described the brains of my autistic clients as too "noisy". I’ve long suspected that this also applies to those with ADHD and Bipolar Disorder. Now it appears that science is proving my point. Health and science writer for the New York Times, Pam Belluck, reported on an exciting new study in her article: “Study Finds That Brains With Autism Fail to Trim Synapses as They Develop”. Scientists have long debated whether autism occurs because there’s too much connectivity in the brain or not enough. Now it seems we are much closer to having the answer…

Research published by a group of researchers from Columbia University Medical Center is showing that it’s a matter of too much. A baby’s brain produces a massive amount of synapses – the electrical and chemical connections that allow the neuron’s spines to send and receive signals. It might help to think of each neuron being covered with spines that are like very sensitive antennae. When there are too many signals, the system gets jammed.

One of the groundbreaking findings in this recent study is that all the children started with approximately the same number of synapses and spines on their neurons. So they’ve discovered that it’s not a question of overproduction of at birth.

The problem arises as the child ages. It’s normal for the brain to start pruning these synapses, so each area of the brain can develop its specific function. Within the group of autistic children, they found that the brain was not pruning the synapses, resulting in “too much noise”.

Ralph-Axel Müller, a neuroscientist at San Diego State University, agrees that there’s growing evidence of over-connectivity. After conducting brain imaging studies, he concluded, “Impairments that we see in autism seem to be partly due to different parts of the brain talking too much to each other. You need to lose connections in order to develop a fine-tuned system of brain networks, because if all parts of the brain talk to all parts of the brain, all you get is noise.”

This goes a long way in explaining why those with autism spectrum disorder experience oversensitivity to noise, problematic social interactions, and even why they are more prone to epilepsy. This is an exciting discovery, because it brings us one step closer to discovering effective treatments. Studies are already being done on possible drug therapy. But they have a long way to go to find an effective one that doesn’t have troubling side effects.

The use of medicines, whole foods, vitamins and supplements can help heal the brain. Combining this type of holistic health regimen and therapy has helped many of my clients to live a fuller and more productive life. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office and set up an appointment.

Learn more on my website – Mind and Body: Holistic Health and Therapy FAQ.



Recent Posts RSS


Tags


Archive