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Kathy Marshack News

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.

Autistic Teens are Caught Up with TV & Video Games

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Does it feel like your teenager is addicted to TV or video games? That can be a real concern to parents, but especially for parents of autistic children. The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders published a study online about autistic teenagers and their preoccupation with TV and video games. Researchers are concerned that this preoccupation could interfere with important socialization and communication.

After evaluating 1,000 teenagers with ASD, around 60% spent most of their time watching television or videos while 41% played videos games. Interestingly, 64.4% do not use email or chat online. This is largely due to the fact that email, chatting, and social networking require social interaction, which is difficult for those on the spectrum.

Since autistic children and teens are drawn to technology, it can be a beneficial tool if used properly. In a previous blog, I discussed the benefits of using the iPad with specialized autism applications. Research also showed that autistic teens who use social media showed improvement with cognitive skills. A word of caution for parents – if your autistic teen is using social media, help them to use it properly since there are risks involved. Be alert to who their "friends" are and their privacy preferences. You do not want anyone to take advantage of your child especially since they may lack the ability to see genuineness. For more on helping your child develop social skills, click here for some practical suggestions.

In addition to whatever you are doing at home for your child or teen, seek out a therapist who specializes in autistic disorders. They will be able to help you find ways to develop your child's cognitive skills. Contact my office for an appointment if you live in Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington.

New Research on How to Treat Autistic Children with ADHD

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Children with autism have many challenges to overcome in the course of their life. But what if autism is compounded with ADHD? It would make life even more challenging – especially if it goes undiagnosed. That’s why it’s important for doctors, educators and parents of autistic children to be aware that someone with autism may also have symptoms of ADHD.

Researchers from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and Oregon Health Sciences University collected data from Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network's Registry and found that out of 2,000 autistic children and adolescents over 50% exhibited symptoms of ADD or ADHD. They also concluded that over a third exhibited severe symptoms. However, only 10% were taking medication that could be used to treat ADHD.

Children with autism and ADHD may benefit by taking medication for their ADHD symptoms. With their ADHD under control, they can then focus on tackling the affects of autism. It is important to note that medication is not a cure for ADHD. It can help to control the symptoms, but more is needed. Emotional therapy, behavioral counseling, and practical support should be combined with medication if the doctor deems it appropriate.

For more information on ADHD and recommended therapy, visit Parenting a Child with ADD.

The Latest Autism Statistics (1 Child in 38) Are Staggering

Monday, May 09, 2011


You may have heard the numbers reported on by the CDC – that 1 in 110 children are being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the United States. According to new research, it could be much higher! The American Journal of Psychiatry will be publishing new research from a study performed by researchers at the Child Study Center at Yale University and George Washington University.

For the last six years, researchers studied 7-12 year old children from the Ilsan District of the city of Goyang, South Korea. They estimate that 2.64% or 1 in 38 children in South Korea have autism. This doesn't necessarily mean that there are now more autistic children than before, but that the method of screening was more thorough.

In the past, the statistics given by researchers came from records of existing autism cases, but it never included children from parents who did not seek out a diagnosis. In the study performed in South Korea, the researchers tried to screen every child from the ages of 7-12. No wonder it took them six years! For more details on this study, read Study Uncovers Higher Rate of Autism.

These numbers can come as quite a shock. It raises the question, if this was done in the United States, would that 1 to 110 statistic change? It is my hope that doctors, parents, and teachers take a more proactive approach to uncovering autism. The earlier autism is detected, the sooner that child can receive the right kind of therapy, training, and schooling. Early detection is vital!

TV Series “Exploring Critical Issues” Delves into Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


"A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle." - Khalil Gibran

Dr. Robert A. Scott, Adelphi University President, the host of the television series "Exploring Critical Issues" will soon be discussing the topic, "Autism and Asperger Syndrome." The purpose of the segment is to discuss the newest autism research and policies with the goal of bring awareness to this fast growing disorder.

Asperger Syndrome (AS) is much more common than previously realized and many adults are undiagnosed. Studies suggest that AS is considerably more common than "classic" Autism. Whereas Autism has traditionally been thought to occur in about 4 out of every 10,000 children, estimates of Asperger Syndrome have ranged as high as 20-25 per 10,000. A study carried out in Sweden , concluded that nearly 0.7% of the children studied had symptoms suggestive of AS to some degree. Time Magazine notes in its May 6, 2002 issue cover story, “ASD is five times as common as Down syndrome and three times as common as juvenile diabetes." Click here to learn more about Asperger Syndrome.

Along with Dr. Robert Scott is a panel of four autism experts including Dr. Stephen Shore, Assistant Professor of Education at Adelphi University. Dr. Shore wrote the forward to my book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?. He teaches courses in special education and autism at Adelphi University. In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Dr. Shore addresses adult issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure as discussed in his many books.

This one hour broadcast will air:
Sunday, May 8th
Sunday, May 15th
Tuesday, May 10th
Tuesday, May 17th
Thursday, May 12th
Thursday, May 19th

"Autism and Asperger Syndrome" can be viewed online at www.telecaretv.org.

Do Women have Asperger Syndrome?

Monday, April 04, 2011


Yes, women do have Asperger Syndrome (AS). It is true that the bulk of those diagnosed are men, there are many girls and women with AS. Women with Asperger's may lead more complex lives than men with Asperger's. To some extent, males with Asperger’s are more accepted because their behavior is viewed as "extreme male thinking." But women with Asperger Syndrome are viewed as cold, uncaring, and selfish because the cultural expectation is for women to be more aware of the needs of the relationship, something which is extremely difficult for most Aspies.

Men around the world are in relationships with women who have Asperger's. Even though the disorder is the same, there are unique differences between a relationship with an AS woman and an AS man. Just like NT women, NT men need to be able to learn about Asperger Syndrome and be able to talk about their experiences.

In order to fill the need that NT men have, I have created two message boards on the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD webpage specifically for male member. Of course, men do not need to be confined to male only sites, but their experiences are specific and so are their needs. If you are a man in a relationship with a women with ASD or have a family member, please feel free to join our message boards whether it is male only or any others that fit your circumstances.

My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? can be a valuable resource for both men and women in Asperger relationships. Click here to download a free sample chapter.

Are You a Survivor of Survivors?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


How do you describe a person who has been traumatized by another person's trauma? I would describe them as a "survivor of survivors." Whether it is from PTSD, alcoholism, Asperger Syndrome, or something else, the actions of that person will affect their loved ones, sparking a cycle of re-traumatization. This type of cycle is vicious and harmful to say the least.

It's hard to explain why a person will feel traumatized by the behavior of another person, but those feelings are very real and should not be minimized. If those feelings are not addressed, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem will set in.

The key is to try and stop the cycle so no one else turns into a survivor of survivors. For the cycle to stop, both parties must seek professional help. There are a variety of effective therapies now available. In addition to therapy, joining a support group is an excellent way to gain comfort and strength from those in a similar situation.

If you have a family member with Asperger Syndrome and live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, I invite you to join Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD. On March 19, 2011, we will be discussing "Are You a Survivor of Survivors?" and exploring this topic in detail.

If your loved one is suffering from another type of trauma or disorder, please contact my office for more information. Do not delay in stopping the cycle!

Parenting with an Asperger Spouse in Real Life vs. Hollywood

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


With as many as 1.5 million Americans having some form of autism, including milder variants, autism is a hot topic.  In 2009, the movie “Adam" highlighted the difficulties of falling in love with someone who has Asperger Syndrome and currently NBC’s “Parenthood” has a character with Asperger Syndrome. When I talk to couples in these difficult relationships, they’re not that interested in Hollywood, they’re looking for real life solutions.

With so much emphasis being placed on Asperger Syndrome, many are left wondering, how can someone co-parent with an Aspie partner? What about the children of an Asperger parent? How can a child thrive when his or her parent has so little empathy?

I’ve been moved to investigate these sensitive and unique issues especially after writing “Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? Practical Steps to Saving You and Your Relationship." As many of you know, I am currently writing a new book entitled, “Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind.”

I have found that when you live with Aspies it’s the ordinary things of life that cease to function properly – like getting enough sleep, or asking your spouse to pick up a child from soccer practice. When co-parenting with an Aspie these ordinary things become strained and turn into not-so-ordinary moments leaving the Neuro-typical (NT) partner feeling drained, unnerved, and tense. In fact many NT spouses/partners report a variety of psycho-somatic and immunodeficiency illnesses such as migraines, arthritis, gastric reflux and fibromyalgia.

If you find yourself in this situation, you are not alone. There are answers to this dilemma and I will continue to write about those answers. I encourage you to download a FREE
sample chapter of Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind.” I will continue to keep you updated on any news about the book and when it will be available. 

Give Your Autistic Child Positive Reinforcement

Sunday, October 31, 2010


In a recent blog, I wrote about the value of learning the early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders. The benefit of early recognition is that specific training can begin immediately. One type of training is to instill positive reinforcement when working with your child. When you reinforce their good behavior, it will help them to understand what is the right way to act.

This actually works whether or not your child has ASD. However, as parents it’s so easy to fall into only commenting on bad behavior. In order to give positive reinforcement, you have to be looking for the good behavior and good qualities that they are exhibiting and be quick to commend them. When giving commendation, be specific. Explain what they did that you liked and why you liked it. Did they do a good job making eye contact? Did they use the right language? Even a little thing can be a good thing to reinforce.

Another way to do this is to offer rewards when they have done something positive. Make sure that the reward fits the child otherwise it will not mean anything to them. The reward can be verbal or something tangible. The goal is to help them to make the connection that their good behavior equals positive reinforcement.

Each child is different, so different things work for different children. So be patient and focus on the positive. For more information on positive reinforcement, read Being Proactive in Therapy and Research.

If you are parenting with a spouse with Asperger Syndrome, download a free sample chapter from my newest project Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind.

 

 

Be Proactive - Learn the Early Signs of ASD

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


According to the CDC, 1 in 110 children in the United States are being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD. With the numbers rising, it is of high importance that parents be proactive and learn the early signs of ASD. Early diagnosis is vital! This knowledge will make an enormous difference in the life of the child and the parent. Once the diagnosis is made, then training can begin.

The Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention is taking note of the delayed diagnosis of ASD and is now working to educate parents on the early signs of ASD. They have a wide variety of tools available on their website. For example, one tool enables parents to keep track of milestones in the early development of their child and what they should be looking for. They also discuss what to do if you are concerned, how to talk to your doctor, where do go for an evaluation, free resource kits and much more.

I encourage you to take advantage of the many resources that are available. Don't delay! This could greatly impact your future and the future of your child. To learn more about parenting with a spouse with ASD click here.


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