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Kathy Marshack News

The Silent Treatment – How to Cope when Those with Asperger’s Shut You Out

Monday, September 26, 2016


The Silent Treatment – How to Cope when Those with Asperger’s Shut You OutYou had a disagreement with your Asperger’s Syndrome spouse two weeks ago and rather than resolving it, he walked away and has been giving you “The Silent Treatment” ever since. (This could just as easily be describing an Aspie woman.) He’s nice to everyone who calls on the phone. But you don’t exist. He completely ignores you and shuts you out. He sleeps with his back to you. He leaves the house without saying goodbye to you, although he loves on the dog, making it a point that you see it. He mutters under his breath when he walks past you. And you feel like you’re going mad! Does this describe anything you’ve experienced? If so, you are not alone.

The silent treatment is really a cruel form of abuse and it includes more, like ignoring and shunning, and treating you as if your opinion doesn't count.

Yes, many of our Aspies have severe anxiety, and some cross wiring that makes it difficult for them to feel and talk at the same time. Many couples have learned how to cope with these situations by creating their own personal rules for engagement. However, when the Aspie chooses to shut down, cut off, shun and even get passive aggressive, this has the result of making us feel abused, oppressed, and worthless.

Psychologists will tell you that when a person cuts you out of their life or shuts you down in these passive aggressive ways, they suffer from a narcissistic wound. They feel obliterated by your strength, so in turn try to obliterate you. It is a severe type of pathology. Not everyone with ASD takes this narcissistic path, but when they do it is devastating.

I hope that a few of you are brave enough to stand up, speak out and talk back. That's what the next Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD video conference is about. If you’re a member of the group, please register for the call to discuss The Silent Treatment on Thursday, October 6, 2016 at 2:30 PM or Thursday, October 27 at 3:00 PM. We’ll discuss: How to recognize the abuse. How to confront your Aspie. How to take back your life, whether they get it or not. (If you’re a NT in an NT/AS relationship, please feel free to join this group.)

Also, be sure to read “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. Click on the image below to request a free chapter.

How to Handle Micro-Aggressions from Your Aspie Mate

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Micro-Aggressions are ways that those with Aspergers Syndrome intentionally or unintentionally invalidate, degrade or insult to their Neuro Typical partnersBack in June 2014 our Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD group discussed what MicroAggressions are and what can be done about them. This is an important topic that is worth revisiting. Usually this term "Micro-Aggressions" is used in the context of bullying and discrimination in schools and the workplace. But I think we NTs (neuro-typicals who are in a relationship with someone with Asperger’s Syndrome) are an overlooked population that experiences these micro-aggressions on a daily basis.

What are some micro-aggressions you may be experiencing from a loved one?

  • You’re told only what you have done poorly, not what you have done well.
  • You’re accused of being critical when you only disagree.
  • You’re told you always get your way, when that is hardly true.
  • You arrange loving displays of affection for the holidays, but your birthday is ignored.
  • You receive that blank look when you try to converse.

As you well know these micro-aggressions, while perhaps unintentional, are still demoralizing. Even worse than the original hostile comment, is that there is little chance of repairing the relationship with an assertive confrontation. Merely asserting yourself can result in an escalation of hostilities, making you feel even worse.

But all is not lost.

If you’re a member of the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD, please join our free international teleconference on Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 2:30 PM. We’ll discuss ways to deal with these micro-aggressions and save your sanity.

And if you’ve been putting off getting a copy of Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD) because you thought it was just for parents with young children, don’t wait another moment. The above information is just a sampling of the science behind Asperger that is explored in the book. If you want to understand your Aspie better, this is a must read.

Does Your Aspie Spouse Make You Look Like the “Bad Guy?”

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Subtle ways that those with Asperger’s (ASD) unintentionally disrespect their mates, causing you to think it’s all your fault, and your children do too!Recently I stumbled upon an article that captures the essence of the life NT’s face when living with a mate who has undiagnosed ASD or Asperger’s Syndrome. The article by Sarah Swenson, MA, LMHC, is entitled, Married with Undiagnosed ASD: Why Women Who Leave Lose Twice, and it does an excellent job in making a painful situation so relatable as it captures the subtleties of the disrespect that is passed from ASD parent to child. I’ll provide a brief summary of the story for you here, but I encourage you to please take the time to read the entire article and the comments that follow it.

An undiagnosed ASD man marries a woman  whom he greatly admires for her success and social skills. (Note: This story could just as easily have been about an ASD woman who marries a NT man. Not all Aspies are male.) But as soon as the wedding is over, these very qualities make him uncomfortable. Therefore, he withdraws into his predictable patterns and he tries to pigeon hole her into them as well. But this makes her feel like she’s disappearing. She feels rejected and lonely. Maybe it’s all in her head. No one understands what she’s going through. They just see that this is a good guy and she’s not trying hard enough to make the marriage work.


Then, when they have children, the situation gets worse. She tries to cover for him and create a “normal” life for them, yet he subtly undermines her efforts. No, he’s not intending to do harm. It’s just that if he doesn’t think it’s important, it’s not going to be part of their lives. A poignant story is told about how he doesn’t view her birthday as important, so the children also learn that mommy’s birthday isn’t important.

As Sarah Swenson describes it from the child’s perspective, mommy becomes the “bad guy” the “boss” who treats daddy badly.

“She is the woman who did not deserve to have birthday parties, remember. She is the woman who appeared to have pushed their father aside, so he was unable to be part of their daily lives. She appeared to have been the one who rejected him, and who instead of involving him in their lives, inserted her own agenda and goals. She is the one who spent all the money, because she had to manage everything and make all the decisions without her husband’s input. She is the one, most importantly, who broke up the family. Her selfishness caused the divorce, and the children were left to sort it all out.”

Yes, in order to preserve her sanity, this woman leaves this unintended abuse and neglect. She loses her marriage, her husband, and the respect of her children because they blame her for everything.

This story struck a chord with me and many other women, as the comments reveal. In particular, the subtlety of the disrespect is important to note. Trying to free yourself from this disrespect is futile until you understood who you’re dealing with. And, in the end, you may need to leave “the burning building”, regardless of whether your Aspie intended the disrespect.

I understand what you’re going through and I want you to know that there is hope. Hope for being understood. Hope for finding yourself again. Hope for making a better life with your Aspie or, if necessary, without your Aspie mate. Please join our growing community of NTs and discover how to navigate this crazy making ASD/NT world.

Asperger Logic vs. Intelligence – Take Back Your Right to be Intelligent in Your Unique Way

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


People with Aspergers are highly intelligent and logical, yet they don’t understand different types of intelligence like emotional intelligence and empathy.Our first Video Conference on the topic of "High Functioning Autism" was “eye opening”, “excellent” and “validating” according to those who joined us. One participant mentioned that these discussions are “giving her a voice and a real perspective”.

I am so thrilled that I’m able to support so many of you in your quest for greater understanding and ways of coping with the crazy making world of Asperger’s Syndrome. I heartily thank all who have the courage to reach out and connect in the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup group.

It’s easy to confuse logic with intelligence. High Functioning doesn’t mean that your Aspie is somehow superior. They’re just as autistic as any other autistic when it comes to empathy, meaning that they have zero degrees of empathy. But they often have an abundance of logic to convince us that empathy is overrated.

First, remember that even though our Aspies may be logical, they may also be irrational. For example, they may logically deduce that your argument or position lacks merit because you cannot prove your point. Or they may deduce that since women earn less than men, they should pay all women less for their services. It’s not rational to conclude that you are "wrong" just because you don’t present sufficient evidence to convince them. Likewise, it’s irrational to argue that women should earn less because over the decades they have.

Second, remember that intelligence comes in all shapes and sizes. You may be emotionally intelligent or artistically intelligent or socially intelligent or intuitively intelligent, etc. You need not possess mathematical/logical intelligence to be intelligent, though this is the type of intelligence that many of our Aspies value.

Third, it's time to take back our right to be intelligent in our own unique way.
Empathy is an incredible gift to possess. We use it in myriad ways to navigate the social world. When you learn to love and appreciate yourself fully (including your capacity for empathy), then interacting with our Aspie loved one becomes more stress free.

The next video conference takes up where we’re leaving off in the discussion of High Functioning Autism. If you’re a member of Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, you’re invited to the next free TeleConference where we’ll be discussion: Logic v. Intelligence. It will be held on Thursday, June 2nd at 2:30 PM PDT and again on Thursday, June 28th at 4:00 PM PDT.

Are you a neurotypical (one who doesn’t have Asperger’s) and you’re living in an Asperger home and haven’t joined Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD yet? It’s a free worldwide Meetup where you find support and understanding. Why not join us today?

Another option: If you would like more one-on-one counseling and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Neuro-Emotional Technique Helps Our Aspies Connect the Dots

Monday, May 16, 2016


Since those with Aspergers struggle to explain what’s going on in their hearts and minds, use Neuro-Emotional Technique to remove the emotional road blocks.Sometimes talk therapy isn’t enough to help people remove emotional blocks. This is especially true for those challenged with Asperger’s Syndrome. But there are ways to help. Like hypnosis and other more holistic therapeutic approaches, NET allows people to bypass talk analysis and get to the heart of their problems without having to come up with a good explanation for the change. I’ve found this to be a less stressful treatment for people with Asperger’s Syndrome, since they struggle to explain what’s going on in their hearts and minds.

Recently I wrote an article for PsychCentral discussing this topic and shared an example of how NET helped one teenager, Austen, find the missing element he needed in order to do what his mother wanted him to do.

To summarize the story: His mother thought that withholding his precious laptop would force him to clean his bathroom. Austen admitted that the bathroom needed to be cleaned, but he could see no connection between getting his laptop back and cleaning his room. This confusion caused them to be at a stalemate. I encourage you to click here to read the entire PsychCentral article. (And while you’re there, will you share this information from your favorite social media platform, too?)


As a NET Practitioner, I was able to help Austen with Neuro-Emotional Technique. NET incorporates the concept of Applied Kinesiology, and the meridian system of Chinese medicine. Using acupressure points on the wrist and testing for congruence between mind and body, he was able to release his emotional blocks. It allows Austen to communicate with his unconscious through NET. Without empathy, Austen was stymied about how to accomplish something he was powerfully motivated to do. Once Austen and I had identified the missing piece, we could use the NET approach to integrate the elements he needed to clean the bathroom. I’m happy to report that Austen got his laptop back the next day.

Not only does NET help those with Asperger’s, it’s also a fabulous tool for helping people release unresolved emotional stress. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and want to discuss how NET may be able to help you, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

What does Very High Functioning Autism Mean?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Learn what Very High Functioning Autism means, and if you see this telltale sign, it may be Asperger’s Syndrome, so don’t delay getting a proper diagnosis.How do you know if someone has Asperger’s Syndrome? Nine times out of ten the members of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group report that their adult Aspies are "very high functioning Asperger's." Or they worry that "my partner has only traits of ASD" so may not be diagnosable. Or they ask for help determining "where" on the Spectrum their Aspie may be.

First, in order to be diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, the autistic person has to be identified as "high functioning" already. There is no such thing as "high functioning Asperger's."

Second, now that we have dropped the diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome from the definition of autism, it has been replaced by "high functioning autism" on the Autism Spectrum Disorder spectrum.

If you suspect your partner has ASD, even if you think they can fool everyone but you, they still may have autism. The high functioning part merely refers to the ability of many autistic people to manage life well enough, such as marriage and career accomplishments. It doesn't mean they have empathy.

Empathy is the clincher. Without a theory of mind, and with context blindness, even the most talented Aspie is no more high functioning than an autistic further left on the Spectrum.

The reason to clear up this mystery is to help NTs break free of the manipulative hold your Aspie has on you. When you get that they view the world differently because they have no empathy, it makes it easier to plan around their disability.

If you’re a member of Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group and you’d like to join 9 other NT members as we discuss this topic, please sign up for the next low cost Video Conference. We’ll be discussing: What Does Very High Functioning Mean? It will be held on Thursday, May 26th at 4:00 PM PDT. There are still a few spots left, but sign up soon to ensure you get your spot.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and need a diagnosis for ASD or Asperger’s Syndrome, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Living with an Aspie – How to Find Freedom from Blame and Shame

Wednesday, May 04, 2016


We often feel shame when dealing with our Aspies, because they can't put themselves in our shoes, they tend to find fault or blame us for misunderstandings.When you’re living in an Asperger home, you may often end up feeling that it’s all your fault, that you should have better control of your home life and family relationships. We often feel shame when dealing with our Aspies who lack empathy. Because they can't put themselves in our shoes, they tend to find fault or blame us for misunderstandings.

Why do those with Asperger’s Syndrome blame others?

This is a natural byproduct of an empathy disorder, unless the Aspie develops a strong moral code. It’s harder to take responsibility for a misunderstanding (or other interpersonal breakdown) when you don't have empathy to compare yourself to another. As a result Aspies can become quite manipulative, narcissistic and engage in the Blame Game.

Furthermore, we NTs may also be blamed for overreacting to our Aspies. I know I used to be called on the carpet for not "controlling" my Aspie daughter's public meltdowns. I was accused right on the spot of being a "bad" mother.

That's where the shame comes in. If you are blamed long enough, and you have made a mistake or two in the relationship, you might take on responsibility for too much and feel Shame. Shame is also a natural byproduct of living daily with a blaming spouse or partner or acting out Aspie child.

What can you do?

If you’re a member of Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, you’re invited to the next free TeleConference where we’ll be discussion: Freedom from Blame and Shame. It will be held on Thursday, May 12th at 2:30 PM PDT.

Please join us for a rousing discussion on how to free yourself from Shame by breaking up the Blame/Shame Game. It's not enough to understand what's happening to you. You need strategies to take back your life and to know how truly wonderful you are!

Are you a neurotypical (one who doesn’t have Asperger’s) and you’re living in an Asperger home and haven’t joined Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD yet? It’s a free worldwide Meetup where you find support and understanding. Why not join us today?

Another option available to you: If you would like more one-on-one counseling and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Understanding Autism - Why Do They Have Trouble Making Eye Contact?

Monday, April 18, 2016


Understand Why people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can look you in the eye sometimes (albeit briefly) and at other times they can’t make eye contactWhy is it that people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can look you in the eye sometimes (albeit briefly) and at other times they can’t? Until now, ASD researchers have had difficulty identifying the triggers that cause people on the autism spectrum to avoid eye contact.

Psychology Today reports on a new study that is unlocking the puzzle. Researchers at the University of Vermont (UVM) devised an experiment using eye-tracking technology and Skype. The scientists observed and tracked the eye movements of children between the ages six and twelve. Nineteen of the participants were typically developing children and the other eighteen were children with autism.

As they conversed about “things people do” topics, all of the children made eye contact. However, when the conversation switched to talking about “things people feel,” the children with ASD began looking at the mouth rather than the eyes. The researchers also found that the more severe the autism is the more frequently the child avoided eye contact.

The researchers associate the shifting gaze and autism severity with lower levels of executive function (EF). They hypothesize that talking about emotions short circuits their EF, so the children shift their gaze so they won’t overload their cerebral limit. Whereas, the NT person looks for emotional and social cues from facial expressions, especially from the eyes, the ASD child finds it too overwhelming. As a result, children with ASD haven’t developed social skills.

To summarize what lead author Tiffany Hutchins, Ph.D. said:

"When a child with ASD talks with me about emotions, it’s very draining. It's like driving in a snowstorm. They don't just watch passively. They have to monitor my engagement, think about what I'm doing, my tone, and my affect to get my full meaning. They are totally focused, every move is tense and effortful, and their executive function drains away. In fact, we found that decreased working memory correlated with decreased eye fixations, so as working memory decreases, we see fewer fixations on the eyes."

She concluded that pressuring children with autism to make eye contact can potentially backfire. It may be best to recognize their need to gaze away in order to reserve his or her executive function resources. Instead, she recommends changing how you phrase things using “what people do” versus “how they feel” and you’ll have a profound impact on where the eyes go for information. And don’t forget to give positive reinforcement for their good behavior.

Does your family need personalized help with learning how to cope with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of Autism Spectrum Disorder? If so, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Don’t Be a Victim in Your Asperger Relationship

Monday, January 04, 2016


don't be a victim in your asperger relationshipJanuary is a great month to commit to New Year's Resolutions. It’s a time to reflect on what’s happening and look for opportunities to improve the quality of your life.

Over the last year in our video conferences, we've been talking talk about the stress of life with an adult with Asperger Syndrome (or ASD). It’s been a relief for many to talk about this because we all need that acknowledgment that we are not alone. However, if all we do is focus on what's wrong, we can sink into a depression that’s so severe we cut ourselves off from hope. We can become so negative in our thinking that we feel like victims and act like it too.

Learning to thrive in the face of such hardship is the ticket. Truly resilient people have a number of traits that we can learn. For example, they accept what is and stop wishing for the impossible. They also believe that no matter how hard it gets, there’s a way to survive and thrive…even if they don't know how to do it yet. They turn to good friends for support and love. And if all else fails they turn to their religious and spiritual foundations (or should this be first?).


The January Video Conference will discuss this topic: Thriver or Victim? You can choose from either of these two convenient time slots, Thursday, January 7, 2016 at 8:30 AM or Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 4:00 PM. These sessions will NOT be recorded, so make sure you honor your commitment to attend. The price is still $15.00 and there are a few spots open.

We’ll share inspiration on how to thrive in the face of adversity, especially when so few people really know what we go through. Let's also help each other out of the stuck, depressed spot. We've all been there more than once. Helping others is one trait of resilience too.

Looking at Autism through the Eyes of One Who Knows

Monday, December 14, 2015


what its like to have autismPerhaps you’re familiar with these phrases that describe empathy: “Put yourself in his shoes” or “Until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes, you won’t understand”. If we’ve never experienced it, we can’t fully comprehend the feelings and emotions of another person.

Recently, in a Huffington Post article, Dr. Jordan Schaul, a board member and chief science officer for Zoo Nation revealed what it’s like to be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s entitled, I Can't Fake it Until I Make It – I'm Autistic. Please take the time to read it. It sheds light on the autistic perspective. In the process, I hope it helps us be more empathetic, patient and understanding of those we meet, no matter what they’re dealing with.

Upon being diagnosed at the age of 40, Dr. Schaul’s first response was anger – anger at family, friends and professionals for not recognizing it sooner. (Earlier diagnosis was Attention Deficit Disorder.) He was also relieved to finally have an explanation for why he felt he didn’t fit in, why he felt exhausted and stressed at social interactions.

I’ve done extensive research on empathy and autism so he quoted me as a clinician and autism expert for the article. I said, "Empathy explains it all when it comes to Asperger's Syndrome. Regardless of where an individual falls on the autism spectrum, lack of empathy is the defining characteristic. Empathy is that ineffable skill of reading between the lines, knowing where the other person is coming from, sizing up the context and speaking in a way that respectfully cares for the feelings of others. Without empathy the autistic person is left in an isolated and disconnected world. They may feel compassion, sympathy and love without a clear way to express it to others with a few simple words or a look. "High Functioning Autism" is such a misnomer. What good is it to be brilliant, talented, well-educated or good looking, if you can't connect with others in a way that makes them feel acknowledged and cared for... and want to love you back?"

Rather than talk about someone’s lack of social skills, why not talk with them and see if you can help them discover the reasons for it. If you suspect autism, please consult with a mental health professional who specializes in Asperger’s Syndrome to make sure you arrive at the proper diagnosis. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.



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