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Kathy Marshack News

Oregon Social Security Income and Social Security Disability Benefits for Autistics Free Workshop

Thursday, April 30, 2015


autism SSI SSDI free workshop in Portland OregonIt can be a nightmare negotiating the intricacies of benefits offered through SSI and SSDI for our loved ones with Autism. So I’m happy to alert my Oregon readers to a free resource coming up next week. I think it’s going to be something you’ll want to attend if at all possible.

Autism Society of Oregon (ASO) is hosting a free event that will improve the lives of all affected by autism. It’s a Workshop entitled, “Plan for Work” Benefits Planning: Busting Myths on Work and SSI/SSDI Benefits. It will cover the following topics:

  • Overviews of Social Security Administration disability benefits program
  • Work incentives associated with Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Medicaid and Medicare connections to SSDI and SSI
  • Individual Development Accounts and the ABLE act.

Already registered? You may not be aware of this…there’s been such a huge response they’ve booked a larger venue and have moved the Workshop to a new location as noted below. Here are the details:

Date: Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Time: 6:00-8:00 pm
Place: Providence Portland Medical Center

Conference Room HCC1 (Basement level)

4805 NE Glisan, Portland OR 97213


It’s a free event, but you must register in order to attend by emailing events@AutismSocietyOregon.org or calling 503-636-1676.

What Happens to Autistic Children Aging Out of School?

Monday, April 20, 2015


what programs are there for aging out autisticsAccording to experts, within the next 10 years, an estimated 500,000 autistic children will become too old for education through the local school districts. At the age of 21, these children graduate and have to find their own way in the world that is ill prepared for them.

Autistics (the term they prefer to be called) don’t grow out of their disability. So losing their structured routine is terrifying to them. It can undo the progress they’ve made and send them spiraling back into self destructive or isolating behavior. Many parents who have already experienced this describe it as falling off of a cliff or even being pushed off of a cliff.

Recently on a must-see Dateline Show, On the Brink, they followed the stories of two autistic boys for three years, chronicling their experiences as they aged out of the school system. The struggle these families go through in order to find specialized care for their sons is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

It’s required that each school district has a transition plan, a set of measurable goals to prepare autistics for adulthood. The reality falls far short of what is needed.

Let’s raise awareness of this issue and give continuing support to those we know personally in addition to everyone across the nation who struggles with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It’s a growing problem that we cannot afford to ignore.

I realize the caregivers of those with ASD need extra support and comfort as they carry a heavy load. I’ve formed a supportive network through international teleconferences and local meetups called Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Familiy of Adults with ASD. And I’m happy to now let you know that there are groups forming around the country so you may soon be able to meet in your own local area. Check here for the currently scheduled meetups. Please come and join us. You’re not alone.

Listen to the full Dateline Show here.

Check out Autism Speaks Transition Tools here.

The Spring Day is so Beautiful…Why Do I Feel so Depressed?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Now that the days are longer and the sun is shining more do you feel energized and happier? Surprisingly, many will answer, “No!” Why is that? This may really surprise you…did you know that the largest number of suicides each year generally occur in May?

Why, if the weather is better and everything looks so hopeful and renewed, do some people react so miserably? While many are feeling more energetic and hopeful, those with depression feel a mounting pressure that they should be feeling happy too. And if they don’t they can plummet into a deeper black hole of hopelessness.

Springtime depression is also connected with change. And highly sensitive people struggle with change. This is especially true for those on the Autism Spectrum. They also suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), seasonal allergies, circadian rhythm disorders, etc. Hence, they are more prone to depression in the spring. There are lots of changes in the air as spring arrives. It is hard enough for us to respond to all of these changes, let alone our Aspies, who are much less adaptable.

Join our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD local Meetup on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 1:00pm PST or our international teleconference Meetup on Friday, April 17, 2015 at 2:30pm PST. We’ll discuss this topic: Do you or your loved ones get springtime depression? Learn how to manage your own emotional flux during this time of year while, at the same time, helping the rest of our family members.

In fact, this emotional roller coaster occurs not only now, but is at play during the full moon and other times of the year, so this information is going to be invaluable for you and your family. If you have soothing tips and cognitive reframes that help you during the springtime, share your stories. We can all use a boost to help us ride the wave into summer.

Read more on my website: Depression and Stress.

Are You Feeling like a Misfit in your NT-AS Marriage?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


asperger husband makes the wife feel lonely and like she doesn't fit in anywhereAny marriage is subject to ups and downs due to human nature in general and the individual partners, in particular. When Asperger Syndrome is part of the mix, the challenges easily mount. This is not to say that the Aspie partner is to blame or is at “fault.” However, given that the core characteristics of Asperger Syndrome relate to communication, emotions, perspective taking and sensory issues, the very components upon which relationships are built, it is no wonder that misunderstanding and frustration often crop up in these relationships.

After years of adapting to your Aspie loved ones, many Neuro-Typicals feel "Aspergated" or as if they have one foot in the NT world and one foot in the ASD world. . . not quite fitting into either. Do you relate to this following scenario?

Little by little you lose contact with your friends as you retreat into your spouse’s Asperger comfort zone. You quit going out to dinner and you quit inviting people over, because you’re Aspie partner complains, so it’s just easier to disappear. And because your social needs aren’t being met, the only way you know how to cope is to “shut down”, pretending that it doesn’t matter. Sure you don’t give up without a fight, but the efforts to fix the situation seem to be pointless.

As a result, your evenings find you in one room watching TV or playing with the children, while your husband is glued to the TV in the den watching his programs. If you don’t start connecting with someone soon, you’re going to go crazy with resentment. But it’s been so long since you put yourself out there that it feels awkward, clumsy and so lonely. You feel like you just don’t fit in anywhere. Does this sound all too familiar?

Are you feeling like a misfit? Fortunately we have the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with AS group, whose members provide the deepest of understanding and caring. But where else can you go for this kind of support? Join us on March 21, 2015 1:00pm for our next local meetup in Portland, OR. Can’t be there? Then join the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with AS international teleconference on Friday, March 27, 2015 at 2:30pm PDT. Let's talk about how we can find this support or at the very least how to protect ourselves from the ravages of loneliness.

And if you haven’t purchased your copy of my books on how to nurture Asperger Relationships so that they thrive, here are links with more information:

Out of Mind - Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome

Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge?

Read more on my website: Asperger Relationships.

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.

Is it Aspie Bashing to Talk about Your Pain?

Friday, January 09, 2015


asperger syndrome partners and family of adults with asd meetupOnce in a while I hear a comment that my books are Aspie bashing or that our Asperger Syndrome Partners Family of Adults with ASD Meetup group is all about denigrating those on the Autism Spectrum. Most of the time these complaints come from well-intentioned people who are not really looking at the whole picture.

To keep quiet about the crazy-making and suffering experienced in many of these relationships is incredibly harmful to those Neuro-typicals who have lived without validation for years. On the other hand, I have limited the Asperger Syndrome Partners Family of Adults with ASD group to only NTs who live this life. I really don't want Aspies to feel threatened by the openness of our communication. After all, there should be a safe place to vent and connect for all involved.

Join our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD local Meetup on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 1:00pm PST or our international teleconference Meetup on Friday, January 23, 2015 at 2:30pm PST. We’ll discuss this topic: Is it Aspie Bashing to talk about our pain?

Let's get together to talk, not blame. This topic is important. How do you come to terms with the crazy-making stuff in your life if you can't review it with others who understand? Our Meetup is a place to share your experiences with others who get what it’s like to be married to an Aspie. When others are trying to discourage you from expressing your feelings or may even be blaming you, you need a safe and secure place to help you resolve all of those painful memories. It can take the painful pressure off of the cork so you can release the years of pent up emotions before you implode and destroy yourself. Asperger’s is in no way an excuse for abusive or violent behavior. Let’s use the time together to find positive and strategic ways of coping and supporting one another.

And really…maybe the accusation of bashing is the result of a lack of empathy for what we are going through. Think about it.

Three more ways to learn more about Asperger’s Syndrome:


If it Feels Like Abuse…It is Abuse!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014


broken hearted because it feels like abusive asperger behaviorWhat a dilemma! Is it abuse when your loved one with Autism Spectrum Disorder says the meanest things to you, your children or others? If they have an empathy disorder, do you excuse this behavior? Is it less abusive because there’s a reason behind the behavior? How much abuse should you tolerate because you’re trying to help?

You know that there are some things that your Aspie partner can’t change. But what about the things he or she could change but just doesn’t want to put the effort into doing so? Are you required to overlook it? What is that doing to your self-esteem… your health?

My opinion is that if it feels like abuse, it is abuse, and it should not be tolerated. But then what do you do about it? How do you confront your Aspie loved one? How do you stand up for yourself when they will never understand? This is a conundrum. And when passive aggressive behavior turns to life threatening actions, you must keep your children and yourself safe, but will you have enough strength to do so?

Patricia Evans quotes an important aphorism in her book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship:

"Sticks and stone can break my bones, but words can break my heart."

I know I’ve raised a lot of questions in this blog post. Now let’s get together and discuss some solutions. Join me Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 1:00pm PST at our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup in Vancouver, Washington as we explore the topic, If It Feels Like Abuse…It Is Abuse! We’ll discuss how to manage the abuse, how to stand up for yourself, and how to put the responsibility squarely on the abuser. This is the first step for taking back your life, which is your real mission. Sign up to learn more about this group and find the details for the location.

If you’re unable to attend in person, you can also join our teleconference Meetup on the same topic on Friday, October 24, 2014 at 2:30pm PST. I’m so excited that we have members from every continent around the world, so you’ll be able to connect with callers from Canada, USA, New Zealand, Great Britain, Germany, India, Dubai, South Africa, South America and so on.

One member recently wrote me and said this:

“Really sorry to have missed the last teleconference, I knew it would be illuminating. NOTHING will stop me from attending Friday's meeting on another great topic! After exploring the subject of NT/AS marriage since 2009, this website has become more valuable than ever.”

Let me just take a moment and thank you for allowing me this summer break. It’s certainly renewed me and I’m anxious to meet with you again. While you wait for this next Meetup, let me ask you…Have you grabbed your copy of Out of Mind - Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD) yet? It continues where “Going Over the Edge?” left off. It’s not just a parenting book but also another look at this life, when children, even grown children are involved.

A Bodybuilder Makes a Difference in the Lives of Senior Citizens

Monday, July 28, 2014


senior getting physically fitDo you sometimes wonder if you matter or can make a difference and a real contribution? Recently I read a heart-warming story about a champion body builder, Mr. Addo, who uses his physical fitness skills and the values from his youth to make a real difference in the lives of others.

You’d expect someone who has won Mr. Ghana bodybuilding championship twice to open up a gym for the elite. Instead, Mr. Addo has found his niche helping senior citizens regain their balance, mobility and strength. As the story explains, “He was raised with the values that improving the lives of one’s elders is of the highest virtue. He brings that to life among this group of retired adults. In his own words he says, ‘They remind me of my grandmothers and aunties back home.’”

This unlikely combination of bodybuilder and the frail elderly has changed many lives for the better. Together they have created a community of people who care about each other, and they work to make each other stronger physically and emotionally.

We can all make a difference in the world when we use our talents to improve the lives of those around us. This giving spirit nurtures both the giver and the receiver. What values and talents do you hold dear, and who can benefit from them? Even our weaknesses can be used to strengthen others. When you find the answer to those questions, you’ll find happiness and purpose. Join us on my Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/Kathy.Marshack.Ph.D) and let’s continue the discussion about people who inspire you to achieve your greatest potential.

Does Trying to Converse with your Aspie Partner Wear You Out?

Sunday, July 06, 2014


difficult talking with asperger partnerPleasant conversation is governed by unspoken rules. We listen carefully, ask relevant questions, make eye contact, show genuine interest in the one we’re conversing with and we don’t interrupt or go off on unrelated tangents. All of this social give-and-take is very difficult for someone with Asperger’s Syndrome. Their lack of social awareness and empathy allows them do insensitive things or blurt out inappropriate comments.

Because of not knowing or understanding the rules, our Aspies tend to either control or avoid the conversation or the situation. Because they don't really understand where their partner is coming from, they feel really anxious, and they conclude that the best solutions to their discomfort is to dominate the conversation or avoid the subject entirely.

Often those with Asperger’s find it impossible to say “No”. If they receive an invitation and they want to participate, they can easily say “Yes”. However, they resort to the avoidance mechanism rather than actually decline an invitation. It’s just too much to acknowledge the person and say "No". So they avoid the person that invites them until it all blows over.

Another social norm that Aspies struggle with is saying “Thank you”. You might ask him if he would like a cup of coffee. Rather than answering, the Aspie just talks on about something that interests him. When he gets the cup of coffee, he takes it and happily drinks the beverage, but acknowledging it is just too personal for him.

How can it be that these simple interchanges are so difficult for our Aspie loved ones? The simple empathic process that Neuro-typicals use daily to acknowledge the other person is lost on Aspies. Why is that?

More importantly, are these simple not-so-ordinary moments wearing you down?

Join us Saturday, July 19, 2014 at 1:00pm PST at our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup in Vancouver, Washington as we discuss the topic, Aspies Tend to Avoid or Control. We’ll discuss the reasons behind this behavior and the best ways to cope. Sign up to learn more about this group and find the details for the location. If unable to attend in person, you can also join our teleconference Meetup on the same topic on Friday, July 25, 2014 at 2:30pm PST and connect with our international group of supporters.

Notice: This is the last Meetup until October 2014 due to a very busy summer schedule. I will continue to check in daily with our Meetup postings, so let’s keep the spirit and conversation alive.

Read a free chapter of “Our of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD)”. This book discusses the science behind Aspie behavior and how you can initiate the rules of engagement that help your Aspie give you the emotional support that you need.

Would You Marry Your Aspie All Over Again?

Monday, May 12, 2014


Would you marry your aspie all over again?If you knew then what you know now…would you marry someone with Asperger’s Syndrome? Of course, second guessing yourself is a recipe for depression. On the other hand, there’s a lot to be learned when you ask yourself this question. If you knew about Asperger’s then and if he or she knew it too… and if both of you were committed to building an “interface protocol” would it all have worked out better?

What do I mean by interface protocol? Another way of say it is, what rules of engagement would you have implemented early on? This involves creating a template for how you and your Aspie relate to each other. While it might be distasteful to think of having to design rules to live by, it’s pointless to expect your Aspie partner to give what they are incapable of delivering, such as empathy. However, if your Aspie partner can master the rules of engagement, even though true empathy is lacking, you can accept their intentions as honorable. They can learn to express their care for you with the right responses while really not understanding the empathetic reasons for doing so.

For example, a husband may leap up to help his wife if she trips and drops something. That’s the right response, but when questioned, his motivation might be, “because she’ll be mad if I don’t”, not the empathetic “she might have been hurt and needs comfort”. You can help your Aspie understand the rules of engagement by explaining, “This is how it works. Since men are macho and may not want help, the rule is that you can offer help once to a guy and if he refuses, it’s okay to let it go. But if a woman trips, I want you to offer to help her at least three times and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. She really wants your help even if she says ‘no’. Okay?”

Would creating a rules of engagement playbook have helped you prevent the anguish and depression? Would you have moved on more quickly? There are a hundred questions. Within these questions we’ll find seeds for healing.

If you are a Neuro-Typical who wants to discussion this topic: “Would you do it again?” with a group of empathetic listeners, join us May 17, 2014 at our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup in Portland, Oregon. Sign up to learn more about this group and find the details for the location. If unable to attend in person, you can also join our teleconference Meetup on the same topic on May 23, 2014 and connect with our international group of supporters.

Would you like to understand more of the scientific reasons why our Aspies do what they do and what we can do to help them? My new book, Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD) is packed full of insightful, scientific research discussed in layman terms, so you can not only grasp the concepts but have sensible suggestions to apply in your own situation.



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