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Kathy Marshack News

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!

An Inspirational Person Shares Her Gift

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Many of you have had the privilege of meeting my Office Coordinator, Michelle Lathim, in person. Michelle has been diligently working for me for a number of years and has truly been a blessing. I wanted to take this opportunity though to share a little bit about the work Michelle has been doing outside of my office.

For several years, Michelle and her husband Dwight have been volunteering at their local church to organize divorce recovery support groups. With divorce statistics on the rise, Michelle and Dwight recognized that this is a major need in the community. The groups have been a success and have multiplied!

The Lathim’s work was recently recognized by the New Heights Church. Last weekend they were asked to be the Keynote Speakers at the New Heights Navigate Gorge Getaway, a two day retreat for parents of young children who need time to relax and refresh their marriage.

I was thrilled to see that this wonderful opportunity that was extended to Michelle and Dwight. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. I will continue to blog about their future speaking engagements.

Asperger Syndrome and Codependency

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


As more adults are being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (AS), mental health professionals are learning that one of the most handicapping problems faced by these adults occurs in their interpersonal relationships. The primary reason that adults with Asperger Syndrome have poor interpersonal relationships is that they have underdeveloped social skills, the major one being empathy. The way the spouse of the Asperger Syndrome partner often copes with this lack of empathy is to become codependent.

 

Codependence is defined as a state of mind where you put your needs and dreams aside in order to help the other person have a life. Kindness is doing these kinds of things sometimes and having a balance of give and take in a relationship. In a codependent relationship, no matter how much you give the other person does not return the favor. Yet you keep on giving and getting more fatigued, frustrated and resentful.

 

Codependence leads to micromanaging the AS members of the family. Because the AS members are doing everything they can to function in other areas of life, such as their job, everything else gets dropped. The codependent person picks up what is dropped as well as managing his or her own life.

 

1.    The codependent arranges all of the social life.

2.    Or the codependent is fully responsible for childcare and home management.

3.    Or the codependent covers for his spouses social faux pas.

4.    Or the codependent lays out her husband’s clothes because he always mismatches things.

5.    Or the codependent pays for extra childcare or dry cleaning because his wife is so overloaded.

6.    Or the codependent works overtime or a second job because his spouse cannot earn enough money or keep a steady job.

7.    Or the codependent takes a job for health benefits because her spouse is self-employed in lieu of unsteady employment.

8.    Or the codependent stays up late to type the teenager’s paper so that the kid won’t turn in homework late again.

 

The codependent experiences burnout eventually. To get beyond codependency, you need to explore self-care. Put your needs first and see to them first.  Since your AS spouse or child loves you but has no idea how you tick, make your beliefs and needs known in concrete ways.

 

Educate yourself as much as possible about the relationship issues of AS so that you can spot the symptoms of dysfunction early and correct the problems. Use books, tapes, and psychotherapy. You can also use a support group to replenish your energy because this is a difficult task – if you live in Portland/Vancouver check out the group Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD.

 

To learn more about AS and codependency in relationships visit my Asperger & Marriage page or take a look at my book - Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? Practical Steps to Saving You and Your Relationship.

 

 

 

 


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