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Kathy Marshack News

Are You a Neuro-Typical in an Asperger Relationship? You Are Not Alone!

Thursday, September 01, 2011


Loneliness is common for those who have an Asperger partner or family member. I am constantly reminding my clients who are in this position that they are not alone. Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD now has 298 members. Our members are from all over the world. I wanted to share a few thoughts from our overseas members to remind all of you that you are in fact NOT ALONE.

"Thank you for welcoming me in your group. My husband and I met met over 25 years ago and his defense all those years was blaming me for everything that went wrong in his or our life. It was an eye opener that he was diagnosed with Asperger's and now it is time to become ME again. The ME I was when I was just a teenager. I can't battle autism (and I am not in war with autism) but I refuse to let me be overruled by it."

"Hi Kathy, thanks for your welcome. Its a great relief finding this group. My husband is an aspie - nobody understood me. Being isolated and unbelieved made me feel crazy. Then one day I found your book and I realized "this is my story - this is my life."

I appreciate the personal thoughts and comments from our members. The topic for the next Meetup is "You are not alone. Let's play!" It will be held on September 17, 2011 at 1:00 PM in Portland, Oregon. It's time to reaffirm your friendships and reaffirm your right to be alive. We all deserve some time to have some fun! Are you a Neuro-Typical in an Asperger relationship? You are not alone – join us!

Click here for more information about the book, "Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?"

Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Update

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Good news! The word is spreading quickly about our Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Support Group. I recently received an email from a member of another Asperger Support Group - Aspergers and Other Half: The Other Half of Asperger Syndrome. She had heard about us through another member in her group and decided to become an online member of our group.

I wanted to express my appreciation to all who are spreading the word. The response has been overwhelming! It is a reminder of how many people are out there who are in need of support. This is a great start, but there’s much more work to be done.

Thank you to all our members who continually add a level of love and honesty that makes our group so special. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, join us Saturday July 16, 2011 as we discuss the topic "Equality or Freedom." So often we NTs (neurotypicals) get stuck on the lack of empathy or reciprocity in our relationships with adults on the Autism Spectrum. While it is true that the "mind blindness" prevents many with ASDs from recognizing our feelings, thoughts and needs, there may be another way to survive this lack of reciprocity.

I think we have to stop thinking in terms of "Equality" and instead think of "Freedom." We are much better able to detach from our feelings of anger and hurt, when we step back and accept "Freedom" as our guide. We seldom win equality, but we can get to a place where we have Freedom . . . at least to us.

What is Freedom to each individual just depends, doesn't it? One person may find Freedom in his or her life by leaving the relationship. Another may devote his or her energy to more reciprocal relationships in the family. And still another may relish the few moments that his or her Aspie makes you laugh. It all just depends what each of us thinks is freeing.

Let's use this summer meetup to expand our concept of how to cope with these difficult relationships . . . without giving up who you are.

Is There a Disconnect between Cognitive and Emotional Empathy for People with Asperger’s?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Does the subject of "empathy" confuse you, especially with regard to your Aspie loved ones? They seem so sensitive at times and yet clueless about your feelings. Could it be a disconnect between what is in their hearts and what is in their heads?

Simon Baron-Cohen, a British researcher, tells us that a defining quality of Autism is a deficiency in empathy. But in practical terms just what does that mean? A deeper look into the research tells us that those with Asperger's may have a disconnect between the two major types of empathy, Emotional Empathy (EE) and Cognitive Empathy (CE). If you have Emotional Empathy (EE), you can feel the emotions of others (or animals, a noted Autistic strength).

But there is a huge problem with having only EE. Can you tell if what you are feeling is yourself or the other person? And even if you can figure out that these feelings are coming from another person, can you talk about it? You need Cognitive Empathy(CE) in order to recognize the bigger picture of who is feeling what and how to talk to the other person "empathetically."

As a neurotypical with a Asperger loved one in your life, have you pondered this dilemma? If so, you are not the only one. Join us on June 18, 2011 in Portland, Oregon for the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup. We will be discussing this topic in detail and would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. We will be taking this research a step further into our personal experience and discuss how we live with it and what to do about it.

If you are unable to attend, please become a member online and jump into our online discussions.

Do You Feel Alone in an Asperger Relationship?

Friday, May 20, 2011


Do you feel alone even though you have a family? This is a common feeling for neurotypicals (NTs) who are in an Asperger marriage or have a family member with Asperger Syndrome. Even though you have a family, you can still feel very alone. Rest assured that your family member loves you, but they are blind to the emotional needs that you have. This is known as "mind-blindness." You may logically be able to comprehend this fact about your loved one, but after time, it can take a toll on you emotionally and even physically.

Your family may not understand what you are going through, but there are others who do. There are many men and women who are in the same situation, coping with the loneliness that comes from being in an Asperger relationship. How can you find each other ? By joining Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD. Time and time again, I hear our members refer to this group as a "family." Its intent is not to replace the family you have, but rather extend it by filling the emotional needs that each individual has. I find it an honor to be a part of this unique family circle.

If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, I encourage your attendance. Some upcoming topics for discussion are: Is your body taking a beating? Is Asperger’s a disconnect between cognitive and emotional empathy? Is your Asperger partner or loved one a survivor?

If you do not live locally, look for a support group for families of Asperger Syndrome in your area. You are also welcome to join our site and participate on the message boards. We have lively discussions and would love to hear from you. Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD

Also you may find my book helpful. Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge? is available for purchase. The book primarily focuses on the NT in the relationship and how to guide yourself through these unique relationships. Click here to download a free sample chapter.

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. 


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