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Kathy Marshack News

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.

Mind Blindness and the Disconnect in Asperger Syndrome Relationships

Thursday, March 17, 2011


If you have a loved one with Asperger Syndrome, it is vital that you learn about "mind blindness" or "lack of empathy." This is a key feature of what makes your relationship with the Aspie unique. Mind blindness or lack of empathy is the disconnect between emotional and social cognition. A person with Asperger Syndrome has trouble reading nonverbal clues and therefore ignores the bulk of a conversation. The Aspie knows what they think and feel but are often unaware of what their loved ones think or feel. They become so focused on themselves that it may seem like they don't care or love you, but that is not true. What happens is that they just don't notice.

Mind blindness can have some especially serious side effects on the partner or spouse of someone with Asperger's. Even though their behavior is not intended to hurt you, it still does. Then you may reach out to someone else like a friend, but if they do not understand Asperger's they will most likely not understand what you are going through. Without the right care, low self-esteem, depression, and resentment may settle in deep.

If you find yourself in a relationship that has a lack of empathy, realize you are not alone! Many experience a similar situation. As a psychologist and marriage counselor I recognized that there’s a great need to give guidance to families of adults with Asperger Syndrome. Here are my suggestions for you:

1. Seek out therapy from a professional specializing in Asperger Syndrome. Click here to see my specific therapy recommendations.

2. Join a support group. Click here for tips on how to find one that suits your needs.

3. Educate yourself about Asperger Syndrome. My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge? was written specifically for those in a relationship with someone with Asperger's. My upcoming book is entitled, Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Sight, Out of Mind. A free sample chapter is available for download. I have also compiled a list of books that I have found especially helpful - Recommended Books Part 1 and Recommended Books Part 2.

These suggestions will help you to see more clearly your own situation and take the necessary steps to live a happier, more full-filled life.

Scleroderma Foundation's 10 Annual Seminar – Discussing Chronic Pain

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Our mind and our body are in constant communication. What the mind thinks, perceives, and experiences is sent from the brain to the rest of the body. And vice versa – our bodies are sending messages to the brain. When your body experiences chronic pain, that pain will affect your mind and the way you think.

On March 12, 2011, I will be a speaker at the Oregon Chapter of the Scleroderma Foundation's 10th Annual Cheri Woo Education Seminar. I will be discussing "How Chronic Pain Changes Your Thinking...And How Your Thinking Can Change Your Chronic Pain."

This seminar is free and is open to the public. If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area, I encourage you to come. I will be speaking at 12:45 pm. The last 15 minutes will be Question and Answer from the audience. This is a wonderful foundation and I hope that as many as possible will be available to attend. For more information on chronic pain, visit Holistic Health or contact my office.

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!

Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Find Support Online

Friday, December 03, 2010


Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD now has 216 members from around the world. Since our meetings are currently held in Portland, Beaverton, and Lake Oswego, Oregon, many of our members are not able to physically attend. In spite of this, our message boards have become a Meetup location in itself.

Our message board currently contain 8 different discussion forums. Out of these forums, literally hundreds of discussions have been formed with thousands of posts. Issues such as sleep problems, sex, parenting, co-dependency, grieving, medication, and much more are being discussed. Some of the most popular discussions: Christian and Asperger's, Alexithymia, Humorous Differences, Why God Made Aspergers, and How To Leave and Grieve. I have been impressed with the prolific writers in the group and I encourage you to keep writing! Something you write may touch the life of someone else.

Please come and join our group. No matter where you are in the world, you can chat with others, gain insight, and support. If you live in the Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA area, we would love to meet you in person at one of our Meetups. We will be meeting December 4, 2010 in Westside Portland to discuss, Asperger's and Other Co-Occurring Disorders- Does My Loved One Have Any? On December 11, 2010 in Portland, we will discuss Sensory Overload, Holiday Meltdowns and How to Survive. Click here for more information about the upcoming meetings.

We look forward to seeing you there or meeting you online! Thank you to all who continue to give support.

Neuro-typicals Ask – Am I Really That Different?

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Am I really that different? Am I really that hard to understand or identify with? Am I really unlovable? When you are married or in a relationship with someone with Asperger Syndrome, you have probably asked yourself that question before. For some reason we have a hard time shaking the belief that we are different, difficult to understand, or even not very likeable.

Obviously there are reasons for this . . . such as the fact that living with someone who has a deficit in the area of empathy and reciprocity can contribute to misconceptions about ourselves. We may lose sight of our own reality and collapse into agonizing despair and sadly we begin to believe that those misconceptions are true.

This type of mental and emotional confusion needs powerful therapy to break through the faulty reasoning that is a result of using NT (neurotypical) logic to make sense of the Asperger world. Often times therapy is directed towards the Asperger spouse, but in order for the relationship to heal and progress, therapy is necessary for both partners. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office for more information regarding effective therapy options.

You are also invited to join our upcoming Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD support group. We will be discussing the theme: Are we really that different? on November 13, 2010.

My book Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? is also available for purchase. 

Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD New Group in Lake Oswego, OR

Thursday, September 09, 2010


Good news! The Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Support Group now has a sister group meeting in Lake Oswego, Oregon. The hope is to offer a different time and location for people to meet. The group will be facilitated by two wonderful members from the Portland group. Here are the details for the next meeting:

What: Asperger Syndrome:Partners & Family of Adults with ASD

When: Saturday, September 25, 2010 1:00 PM

Where: Terrace Kitchen - 485 2nd Street (corner of 2nd & B Ave.), Lake Oswego, OR 97034

This group is available for Portland members as well as newcomers. We hope you come and join us for our discussions. Click here to join and RSVP.

Partners & Family of Adults With ASD Support Group Goes International

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I wanted to share some of the exciting news about the Asperger Syndrome: Partner's & Family of Adults with ASD Support Group. Our small group has grown tremendously and now has 187 members. The members are not only those local to the Portland/Vancouver area, but we now have members from around the world from Europe, Great Britain, Dubai, East Africa, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

The message boards have become a place where members can discuss their concerns and gain support. Here is what one of our new members wrote:

"Kathy, I just wanted to let you know how much this group is helping me. I have found a wealth of information and understanding. The shame and guilt that have been so present for so long is lifting because of the stunning similarities other woman are walking in and willing to share so honestly and openly. I'm glad you started this group (I only wish I lived in Portland lol) but good things are happening on the message board.”

The message boards are private and for members only and I screen new members. It is important to me that this support group is maintained as a place of support and security.

Our next meeting is scheduled for August 14, 2010. The topic for discussion is "Aspie by Nature or Exposure?" I hope that you can join us – if not in person, then on the message boards!

How Couples Therapy Helps Women Dealing with Alcoholism

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Alcoholism is a disease. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 14 million Americans—1 in every 13 adults—abuse alcohol or are alcoholic. Abusing alcohol is not only damaging to your health, it can also have devastating effects on relationships with family, friends and coworkers. Studies show that women are less likely to seek help for their addiction to alcohol than men. If your wife or partner is suffering from alcoholism, there is something you can do to help them.

A new study focused on women dealing with alcoholism and how couples therapy could be a powerful option in overcoming their addiction. The women who participated in couples therapy had greater results than those in individual treatment. The social support of a committed spouse or partner seems to have play a role in helping the addict work on their addiction. Click here to view this study in its entirety.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was used as a treatment in this study. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is designed to help address the way you think. It helps identify faulty and irrational thinking to more constructive, solution-oriented thinking. Click here for more information on the benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Whether you are a man or a woman, please seek help if you are suffering from an addiction to alcohol. There are many resources available for you. Visit the Alcoholism Recovery section on my website for more information.

The Autism Society of Washington Conference

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


The Autism Society of Washington is hosting the Best in the Northwest Conference – Bridge to Adulthood: Promoting Competence through Comprehensive Transition Planning for Learners with Autism and Related Disorders. This is a one-day workshop in my hometown, Vancouver, Washington and it will be held on April 16, 2010.

The workshop will be directed by Dr. Peter Gerhardt, President of the Organization for Autism Research. With over 25 years of experience of working with autism related disorders, Dr. Gerhardt will be focusing on the transition process beyond classroom academics and promoting life competence for ones with ASD.

I have signed up to attend this workshop. Click here for more information or to register. Maybe I’ll see you there!


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