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Kathy Marshack News

Make Time for a Hobby - It’s Good For You!

Monday, July 30, 2018


you’ll be a lot healthier, happier and more productive, if you make the time for a hobby and just have fun! When was the last time you participated in a hobby, just for the sake of having fun? You didn’t need to accomplish something...it didn’t matter how it turned out...you just wanted to have F.U.N.?

In our culture, hobbies have been relegated to when you have free time, after your work is all done. But with today’s entrepreneurial lifestyle, more often than not, your hobby has become your work! So your work is never done and you no longer have a fun, creative outlet that lets you rest and refresh yourself. There’s always something begging for your time and attention. So who has time for a hobby anyway?

Well, according to research, you’ll be a lot healthier, happier and more productive, if you make the time for a hobby and just have fun! Hobbies can lower blood pressure, depression and stress. In the long run, they can also help you become more creative and a better problem solver.

Studies do show that having a hobby can make you more productive at work, but it’s important to remember that hobbies are meant to be time away from work and enjoyed for their own sake. After all, life is meant to be enjoyed, isn’t it?

You don’t need an extravagant amount of time or money to have a hobby. Just think about what interests you the most. What would you like to learn more about? Gardening? Painting? Quilting? Knitting? Photography? Cooking? Playing a musical instrument? By the way, watching TV is not a hobby.

Perfectionism often gets in the way of enjoying your chosen hobby. If so, it would be helpful to shift your thinking from achievement to just enjoying the process and seeing what you can learn about your activity and about yourself.

Don’t feel guilty about taking time for your hobby. A life well lived is all about enjoying the journey, not about accumulating money, possessions, position or living up to what others expect of you.

So what are you going to do that makes you feel more fully alive? I challenge you to start a new hobby this week. Or if you already have a hobby, take it to the next level. I’d love to hear about your chosen hobby. Come over to my Facebook page and let’s have fun sharing ideas.

When Tragedy Strikes, Will You Be Able to Rise Above It?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


When Tragedy Strikes, Will You Be Able to Rise Above It?Why can some people rise above tragedy, while others are swallowed up by it? We’re all human, so what do these overcomers have that sees them through difficult times with such grace and dignity?

Psychologists have been grappling with this issue for years. While I don’t want to over simplify or minimize the suffering experienced, there’s a natural progression when tragedy strikes us personally - our emotions become highly engaged and then our dominant attitude takes over. Yes, attitude really is everything.

For example, if you’re prone to dwelling on the disappointment, you’ll sink into hopelessness and depression. If, on the other hand, you look for some meaning, you’ll bounce back more quickly. That forward-thinking, positive attitude is what fuels resilience.

Having a positive outlook in difficult circumstances is the most important predictor of how quickly you’ll recover from a tragedy. Resilience makes you better able to regulate your emotions, so you can maintain your optimism through anything.

I’ve found an interesting article in The Atlantic that collects together studies that show how a positive attitude, optimism and resilience are vital to coping with tragedy. This flies in the face of a popular strategy known as “venting.”

Ever since the time of Freud, psychologists have thought that people simply need to blow off steam to be happier. But venting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Dwelling on your suffering for even a short length of time or venting through punching something or yelling at someone tends to make people feel worse, not better. It’s only when you seek the silver lining that you make some sort of sense out of tragedy. The ultimate key to facing adversity with resilience is to find meaning in it. Probe into the causes and consequences of the tragedy and become wiser because of it.

Through my years of work, I’ve observed that the highest form of empathy on the EmD Scale, the complex trait of Radiant Empathy, contributes to greater resilience. It makes it easier to transform negative feelings into positive ones, because you develop greater emotional flexibility. You can let go of the negative and shift to the positive more quickly.

This summer, I’m working on pulling together a new resource for you to learn more about Radiant Empathy. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter, then you’ll be one of the first to know when it’s available.

In the meantime, if you’d like to enlarge your empathic skills, read my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS,” which is a practical guidebook for developing this quality. Or if you prefer 1:1 counseling, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I offer online therapy if that works better for you.


End of Summer Survival Skills

Monday, July 23, 2018


If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, July and August are beautiful summertime months! When you were a child, I bet you thought of summer as a time to rest, play and be free of the structure of school. But as an adult with responsibilities, it’s not so easy anymore, is it? Especially is this so, if you have Aspergers, a high functioning form of Autism, in your family.

The changes in routine make Aspies more anxious and more demanding. But we still need to find time for ourselves. What are you planning for this summer? Unless you purposefully carve out time for some R and R, it won’t happen. Here are some suggestions:


  • sign up for a yoga retreat,
  • go river rafting,
  • take a painting class,
  • go to the coast and walk on the beach,
  • enjoy an outdoor concert,
  • become a stargazer, or
  • take some mornings off to read a book at your favorite coffee shop.

And if you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, please sign up for the low cost video conference: “End of Summer Survival Skills,” on Tuesday, July 31st. This video call is all about nurturing yourself. Come to the call with ideas and questions about self care. No doubt you used to take time for yourself. You need to do so again. It's the key to taking back your life from our demanding Aspies.

Personally, I like to take off the month of August to regroup, reassess and relax. So this will be our last call of the season before September. Behind the scenes, I’ll be working on some exciting new things I hope to share with you soon.

Here’s a sneak peak…I’ve teamed up with AAPC (the largest publisher of books on autism) to bring you the most up-to-date resources on Asperger Syndrome (ASD). Pssst…I’m going to be doing a video blog for them! I’m excited and a bit nervous at the same time.

NOTE: If you didn’t catch my email to the Meetup group, I’m asking for your suggestions to make our membership site more user friendly. Please come over to my Facebook page and share any suggestions you might have.

If you can’t relax because life’s stresses are too overwhelming, perhaps it’s time to reach out for some professional help. If you determine that you need assistance and live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Read more on my website: Managing Stress.

Does Good Parenting Mean You Shield Your Child from All Adversity?

Monday, July 16, 2018


The key to good parenting is not protecting kids from everyday adversity, but encouraging a healthy attitude toward stress. Everyday we see headlines that say, “Stress: The Killer Disease,” “Stress Is a Silent Killer,” or “Why Stress Is Deadly.” It’s no wonder people have adopted the opinion that all stress should be avoided. While I do agree that long-term, chronic, acute stress is harmful, some stress is beneficial and necessary for personal growth and development.

The stress response can be an asset for raising levels of performance during critical events such as a sports activity, an important meeting, or in times of crisis. Appropriate and controllable stress also provides interest and motivation for greater achievement, while a lack of stress may lead to boredom and depression.

When we experience life’s challenges or adversities, our bodies secrete the hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol stimulates the release of glucose for energy and activates the immune system, while adrenaline increases focus and attention. It also stimulates neural growth in the brain, which is critical for learning and memory.

The key to good parenting is not protecting kids from everyday adversity, but encouraging a positive attitude toward stress. Studies, like the ones at Stanford University, show that it’s possible to change our emotional and biological response to stress, just by adopting a healthy attitude toward stress.

As children overcome adversities, their self-confidence grows. They’ll feel more in control. And when people feel in control during adversity — whether they really are or not – they’re less impaired by stress. As parents, you can help your children adopt a confident, can-do attitude. Help them understand that perfection is not the goal. “Failing, learning from it, getting up and trying again until you succeed,” should be the message they receive.

It’s a difficult balancing act for parents, because we hate to see our children suffering. The temptation is to become an overly protective helicopter parent. However, parents who shield children from anxious-making experiences are preventing them from learning to be unafraid. Short-term stress promotes resilience.

The most helpful thing we can do as parents is to provide a supportive, loving environment that teaches them a healthy lifestyle – nutritious food, exercise, and plenty of sleep – and helpful coping skills. Paramount is teaching them to develop Radiant Empathy, so they can show compassion for others, while protecting themselves from the users and abusers in the world today. My new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS,” is a practical guidebook for developing this quality.

Do you see room for improvement in your family’s stress management skills, but don’t know where to start? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Resilience – The Key to Living Happily Ever After

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


While it’s not possible to have a “happy ever after” life, you can drastically improve your odds by developing resilience. “…and they lived happily ever after.” All the good love stories end with these words or at least this sentiment, don’t they? We long for happy endings, because, if it’s possible for someone else, it’s possible that we can live happily ever after, too.

Okay, I know that fairy tales aren’t real. While life can be blessed and fulfilling, happiness doesn’t come automatically. Every person will face adversity in life. Especially is this so, since we’re living at a unique time in human history. According to the CDC's current data, about 1 in 68 children has been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). So there’s a real possibility that the person you’re in a relationship with today has high functioning autism, formerly known as Asperger Syndrome.

But there is something that can drastically do to improve your odds of having a happy family life. What's the missing ingredient that takes us from victim to victorious? I think the answer is: resilience.


Resilience is built upon a foundation of the following nine characteristics:

Optimism
Self-belief
Emotional awareness
Self-control
Willingness to adapt
Willingness to be flexible
Ability to solve problems
Social support
Sense of humor

Without resilience, we can get so entangled in the Aspie logic that we become a shell of our former self. Resilience is a kind of elastic quality that helps us keep bouncing back, but we must bounce back to our own reality, our own common sense, our own confidence in our empathic ability to see the truth.

Resilience isn't kindness, or codependency, or compassion. It's the ability to recognize almost immediately that our Aspie is making some faulty judgments and that we don't have to accept them. For example,

The resilient person says, "Thank you for your view, but I'm going to do it my way today."

The resilient person recognizes that arguing with your Aspie is futile. It's not that Aspies aren't entitled to argue some arcane idea, but the resilient person accepts that we don't have to be their sounding board, or their humble servant, or their ardent advocate . . . or the loser in the argument.

Do you want to enhance your resilience? If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, please attend the free, international teleconference: “Building Resilience in an ASD/NT Relationship.” It will be held on Thursday, July 19th. We’ll concentrate on learning methods for building resilience. Of particular importance is recognizing early on when you’re slipping. I got so distressed living with three Aspies that I allowed myself to lose my common sense, get angry and wind up in jail! (You can read my story, plus learn techniques for developing resilience and Radiant Empathy, in my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.”) You don't want to let this happen to you.

P.S. If you know of someone who is a NT (neurotypical or non-autism) person in a NT/ASD relationship, please tell them about this Meetup group. It has become a life saver for thousands of people across the globe.

Invite Your Aspie to This Special Meetup Conference

Monday, July 09, 2018


Communicating and connecting with someone who has Asperger’s Syndrome may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Couples’ counseling is one way to facilitate better understanding, because it’s done in an atmosphere that diffuses raw and hurt emotions. Another valuable resource is finding a support group that you and your Aspie can attend together, but that’s easier said than done.     Up to now, my Meetup group, Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD, has been limited to the NT (neurotypical or non-autism) partners in NT/ASD relationships. It’s been a unique resource for this often-forgotten segment of the population. Many of the members express appreciation for the opportunity to find support, as they speak openly about their lives. It’s so important to know you’re not alone.     But I have good news! I’m granting your wish for a Couples Call this month.     Are you ready to invite your Aspie to one of our videoconferences? I’m hosting a special conference for NT/ASD couples. The purpose is to give your Aspie a chance to learn that they are not alone either. They will “meet” others who are living this life and learn how others are coping. This VIDEO CONFERENCE: “Couples Call. Invite your Aspie” will be held on Tuesday, July 17th. Please sign up only if your partner will join you.     Obviously we can’t just dive in and dig into every tender issue. However, I thought we would make it a question and answer format, so that your Aspie can ask questions and hear others’ answers. If they don’t like to ask or don’t know what to ask, I suspect they’ll still come away from the call with some new information.  Don’t be afraid to ask them to participate. Many Aspies are waiting to be asked. They do want to know how you feel. They’re just terrible at asking. Plus their willingness to participate is an emotional gift to you, isn’t it?  Since only members are allowed, your Aspie will need to be in the same room with you to share the call. It also makes it easier for all of us to know who’s a couple.  Pssst…There’s another exciting development underway. I have teamed up with AAPC (the largest publisher of books on autism) to bring you the most up to date resources to help you and your family deal with an adult (and child) with Asperger Syndrome (ASD). My new video blog and other publications will be coming soon. If you don’t want to miss out, please sign up for my newsletter, so you’ll be among the first to be invited in.Communicating and connecting with someone who has Asperger’s Syndrome may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Couples’ counseling is one way to facilitate better understanding, because it’s done in an atmosphere that diffuses raw and hurt emotions. Another valuable resource is finding a support group that you and your Aspie can attend together, but that’s easier said than done.

Up to now, my Meetup group, Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD, has been limited to the NT (neurotypical or non-autism) partners in NT/ASD relationships. It’s been a unique resource for this often-forgotten segment of the population. Many of the members express appreciation for the opportunity to find support, as they speak openly about their lives. It’s so important to know you’re not alone.

But I have good news! I’m granting your wish for a Couples Call this month.

Are you ready to invite your Aspie to one of our videoconferences? I’m hosting a special conference for NT/ASD couples. The purpose is to give your Aspie a chance to learn that they are not alone either. They will “meet” others who are living this life and learn how others are coping. This VIDEO CONFERENCE: “Couples Call. Invite your Aspie” will be held on Tuesday, July 17th. Please sign up only if your partner will join you.

Obviously we can’t just dive in and dig into every tender issue. However, I thought we would make it a question and answer format, so that your Aspie can ask questions and hear others’ answers. If they don’t like to ask or don’t know what to ask, I suspect they’ll still come away from the call with some new information.

Don’t be afraid to ask them to participate. Many Aspies are waiting to be asked. They do want to know how you feel. They’re just terrible at asking. Plus their willingness to participate is an emotional gift to you, isn’t it?

Since only members are allowed, your Aspie will need to be in the same room with you to share the call. It also makes it easier for all of us to know who’s a couple.

Pssst…There’s another exciting development underway. I have teamed up with AAPC (the largest publisher of books on autism) to bring you the most up to date resources to help you and your family deal with an adult (and child) with Asperger Syndrome (ASD). My new video blog and other publications will be coming soon. If you don’t want to miss out, please sign up for my newsletter, so you’ll be among the first to be invited in.

Discover the Patterns of Asperger Communication

Wednesday, July 04, 2018


 Those with Asperger’s Syndrome have patterns of communication. Once we understand these patterns, we can understand our Aspie loved ones better, so our relationships can thrive. The world is full of patterns. And after studying these patterns, people have made some astounding discoveries…not the least of which is the discovery that those with Asperger’s Syndrome have patterns of communication. Once we understand these patterns, we can understand our Aspie loved ones better, so our relationships can thrive. Does this concept excite you as much as it does me? I hope so! Because this is a monumental breakthrough for the NT/AS world.

Once you understand their patterns, you have a better chance of connecting in their world. Their patterns are relatively simple. It’s kind of like algebra or quantitative methods. You just need the right formula.

It took me forever to break the code, because I was trying to understand them from an NT (neurotypical or non-autism) perspective. Once I let go of that notion, I could more easily see the patterns they use to make sense of the world.

It’s like wandering around in a foreign country for a few days. Once you get your bearings, you can read the street signs or a menu, even when you don’t speak the language. We have to do this for our Aspies, because they can’t do this for us.

If you’re to understand, relate and communicate with your Aspie loved one, you will need to be a scientist. We could talk for hours about their patterns…and we’re going to get started at this month’s video conference: Patterns of Aspie Communication on Tuesday, July 10th and Tuesday, July 24th. If you can’t get in to either of these time slots, don’t worry. There will be more to come later. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter so you receive notifications for all of the upcoming conferences.

Would you like to accelerate your understanding of Asperger Communication Patterns by working with me 1:1? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Loving a Partner with Autism: Dr. Kathy Interviewed on Autism Live Show

Tuesday, July 03, 2018


Shannon Penrod and Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson interviewed Dr. Kathy Marshack on their “Autism Live Show”. Recently, Shannon Penrod and Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson interviewed me on their online Autism Live Show. I shared with them that I’m not really an expert on autism, but how I became interested in Asperger Syndrome, when I discovered my 13 year old daughter was on the Spectrum. As any mom would do, I buried myself in the research, educational and treatment options for my daughter Bianca. I later realized that my mother most likely was on the Spectrum, as are other members of my extended family.

During our conversation, they expressed appreciation that my focus is not on autism per se, but on the often forgotten, non-Specrum (or neurotypical family members), and that I strive to help AS/NT families cope and thrive. My work is breaking down the myths and barriers to the crazy stuff that goes on inside these relationships. It’s so hard to combat the loneliness that comes with trying to connect with someone you care deeply for, but it just isn’t working.

Nancy loved the case studies I include in my books, while Shannon loved the Lessons Learned at the end of each chapter. She said, “This is the best advice for any relationship, no matter who the relationship is between. They’re really fabulous guideposts that a lot of us take for granted, but they would be a great thing for a couple to talk through.” Their feedback thrilled me.

Connection and communication are especially challenging for people on the Spectrum. So the NT has to learn new ways of communicating and demystifying the signals.

Radiant Empathy (Em-5) helps you deal with someone with an Empathy Disorder. By building up your ability to be empathic, you become good at taking good care of yourself, setting clear boundaries, and saying “No” when someone is not being respectful of you. This is what makes it possible to deal with people who have trouble connecting. You know their heart is in the right place and you can give them a break, while, at the same time, you have a heightened ability to recognize all the love coming into your life from these relationships. At EmD-5, you clearly have the resources you need to hold dear the feelings of others, while at the same time keeping your personal boundaries clear.

Would you like to learn how to develop your empathic skills to this elevated level? Check out my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you.” Its practical guidance will open your eyes to what it means to be fully human. Or if you’d like to work with me personally and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Listen to my interview on the Autism Live Show: Loving a Partner with Autism.



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