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Kathy Marshack News

Minimize Asperger-Induced Stress by Creating New Holiday Traditions

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Lessen Asperger-Induced Holiday StressHolidays should be a fun time to connect with friends and family, but when your husband, wife or child has Asperger’s Syndrome it can be anything but joyful. The increased number of social occasions makes it tough on your Aspie loved one because they have difficulty with socializing. This makes it hard on you, because you always feel like you need to be on guard to field their social faux pas.

To help you cope, let’s focus on how you can minimize the stresses of the coming holidays. This will help you be more prepared to manage the meltdowns and your own dashed hopes for the upcoming seasonal events.

Of course you can plan better self-care, like a massage or an extra session with your psychologist. You can reduce the number of parties you attend or you could even skip taking the kids to see Santa. However, instead of thinking about what to avoid, why not think about the positive things you can do?

You can introduce these new traditions that actually are fun and soothing…

1. Have the holiday meal catered or ordered from your deli. If you don't have the stress of planning and cooking a big meal, you’ll be in better shape to handle the other stresses. Plus you can stay home where your Aspies feel safer.

2. Drive separately to the event so your Aspies can go home early or one of you can take home a overtired child. This leaves you and more stable family members to still have fun.

3. Skip all of the extended family invitations and leave town for a quiet weekend at the beach or the mountains or even at a downtown hotel. You can still enjoy the holiday spirit if you phone ahead and request that your children are allowed to decorate the tree in the hotel lobby.

Your Aspie may be appalled that you want to do these things, but you can tell them "This is a new tradition that I want to start. Let's try it to see if it works." They might buy it. In any case you need a break.

Sometimes you’re too close to the situation to see the best solution to your problem. Often others can think outside the box and provide you with some great ideas. That’s what we’re going to focus on in our next, free, International Teleconference entitled, Creating New Holiday Traditions. It’s scheduled for Thursday, November 19th at 2:30PM PDT. Come and share your best Asperger holiday tips.

Learn more about the science of Asperger Syndrome and how it can help your family be happier in my book, Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD), click on the image below to download a free chapter.

Dashed! Crashed! Trashed! Is That How Your Aspie Relationship Has You Feeling?

Wednesday, November 04, 2015


support group for families with adults with asperger syndromeMost of you who live with a family member with Asperger’s Syndrome can instantly relate to these feelings. Living with the Aspie Mind means that your hopes are frequently dashed. It means that your spirit/mind/body crashes from time to time too. And in spite of your best intentions, your Aspie trashes you and your efforts to repair the relationship. Rather than ignoring these feelings, it’s time to address this problem head on. If you’re to repair your relationship you absolutely must take care of yourself instead of fall victim.

Furthermore, relationship repairs are required daily in these Asperger/Neuro-typical marriages and families. The communication problems are intense as you well know. But before you can be successful at managing your life, you really must understand the phenomena of dashing, crashing and trashing.

Have you been looking for a supportive group that “gets” what you’re going through in dealing with your Aspie family member? Learn more about the November paid Video Call on the topic: Dashed! Crashed! Trashed! It will help you parse the system that may lead to dashing, crashing, and trashing by your Aspie. We’ll discuss how to keep yourself safe, how to rebuild your inner life . . . and how to hold people accountable for their behavior. Each Video Call is held twice a month so you can choose the most convenient time for you. Register early, because these calls fill up quickly.

If you want to understand those with Asperger’s better and how to make your family thrive, please make the time to read my books, Going Over the Edge? and Out of Mind – Out of Sight.

New Video Conference Connects People Who Have Family Members with ASD

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


worldwide asperger syndrome video conference"Know that you are not alone."

This is the underlying message of all of the Asperger Syndrome Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetups since the group was organized over six years ago. Now it’s even more profound since members are talking together from around the world. To my surprise we have grown from a handful of people in Portland, Oregon to an international membership from ever continent.

Are you interested in knowing more about the new format for the worldwide video conference? Here are some frequently asked questions that will help you get acquainted with this new process:

Who may join the calls? Only NT (neuro-typical) members of the Asperger Syndrome Partners & Family of Adults with ASD will be approved to join the video call, as we will be discussing what it’s like to live with an adult on the Autism Spectrum or with Asperger's Syndrome.

How many will be attending at one time? Each video call is limited to Dr. Kathy Marshack plus 10 so the conversation can be more intimate.

Can I attend anonymously? Instead of using your real name, you can use a pseudonym.

Can I attend even if I don’t have a webcam or video capability? The purpose of this small group is to get real, to be seen, heard and understood like you would in an in-person support group. If you don't have video capability or are uncomfortable with this format please join us for one of our teleconferences that can be accessed through your phone.

Will these calls be confidential? Absolutely yes! Dr. Marshack is using a very secure software called Scopia to ensure your confidentiality.

Will I be able to talk with individual parties privately while the call is in progress? Yes, you can have a private text chat with another meetup member or you can talk to the entire group.

Can I use my Smart Phone to access this call? Yes! Check out this page to learn what browser and devices will work.

Will this call be translated into my language? The call will be in English only.

How much does it cost? At the time of this writing, the price is $15 USD per person. This fee is non-refundable.

How do I pay? If you are not able to pay by credit card or PayPal, please call 503-222-6678 to make alternate arrangements.

When should I login to the call? **IMPORTANT** If you have RSVP’d “yes” to the video conference please download the software one or two days ahead of time. This will ensure you’re ready to go when the video conference takes place and can maximize your time.

Depending on when you RSVP, you will receive an email invitation approximately 5-10 business days prior to the video conference date. SAVE THIS EMAIL. It contains a link to join the meeting along with a PIN number. This PIN gives you access into the meeting. Login at least 10 minutes before the conference starts.

Choose the instructions corresponding to your device/internet browser here.

How often will these video conference calls be scheduled? Two calls are scheduled per month to accommodate as many time zones as possible. They are posted for Pacific Time. Check the schedule often to make sure you get in on the topics that interest you. You can use this world clock converter to see how USA – Oregon – Portland time converts to your time.

September Video Conference Calls

Thursday, September 10, 2015 8am PDT Topic: You are not alone.

Friday, September 11, 2015 1:30pm PDT Topic: You are not alone.


Whether you live in the U.S., Scotland, Dubai or New Zealand please join us and learn that you are not alone. Regardless of culture or country, I have found that living with an Aspie adult (spouse, child, parent, etc) feels the same. It can be confusing, heartbreaking, crazy making, amusing, stressful, enlightening and more.

Exploring the Link between Cesarean Births and Autism

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


link between autism spectrum disorder ASD and cesarean birth C-SectionsMuch research is being done on the long-term affect of cesarean section deliveries. They’ve discovered that children born by C-section have fewer good gut bacteria, which makes them more prone to asthma, allergies, Celiac Disease, or Crohn Disease.

Researchers once again link C-sections with autism in a way that might surprise you. According to Autism Speaks, “the largest-ever study of a suspected link between cesarean delivery and autism confirms an association but suggests that it’s due to a shared trigger. In other words, the C-section procedure itself does not appear to increase the risk that a child will develop autism. Rather, one or more common, underlying factors may increase the likelihood for both.”

A recent study reported on in the JAMA Psychiatry confirms previous findings that “children born by C-section are approximately 20% more likely to be diagnosed as having ASD. However, the association did not persist when using sibling controls, implying that this association is due to familial confounding by genetic and/or environmental factors. “

They conclude that C-section doesn’t cause autism. Rather some unknown genetic or environment factor is responsible for increasing the risk for both autism and C-section.

The hope is that with continued research scientists will find out why autism is so prevalent. According to the latest estimates from CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, about 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

While this research is fascinating, if you have a loved one that has been diagnosed with ASD you will also benefit from learning how science is unlocking the key to understanding Asperger behavior. My book, Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD), explores the science behind Asperger’s. If you want to understand your Aspie better, this is a must read.



Should Autistics Drive a Car?

Thursday, July 02, 2015


should those with autism spectrum disorder drive a carThere are so many things that Neuro Typicals (those without Autism Spectrum Disorder) take for granted. For example, it’s usually not a big thing when your spouse takes the wheel, unless he or she is a really bad driver. And even when your teen first gets behind the wheel of the car and starts driving, you may be only a little apprehensive.


But when you’re dealing with someone who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, this situation can become filled with anxiety. And when you add to the mix a divorce and your ASD ex is allowed free reign to drive your children, it can become a nightmare.

Drexel University has published its first study on the driving behaviors in adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. They asked those with ASD how they felt about driving. They found that many regulate their own driving. For instance, some won’t drive on the freeway while others won’t drive at night.

The A.J. Drexel Autism Institute is funding further research. In the next phase, the team is using driving simulation in Dr. Maria Schultheis’ lab to examine actual driving performance of adults on the autism spectrum. If you’re interested in enrolling in these studies, contact schultheis@drexel.edu.

Interactive Autism Network points out the many with higher functioning autism can drive safely if they’re given extensive training. Processing the big picture of multiple events rather than focusing on one detail at a time is one challenge they must overcome. As well as staying calm and not getting overwhelmed and shutting down in stressful circumstances.

New York Times also reports on the challenges of driving with Asperger's. Parent of ASD teens are concerned about “their ability to concentrate, to understand nonverbal communication and to handle the unexpected.” Their rigidity in obeying the rules may cause them to lack flexibility in emergency situations. Some autistic adults have terrible road rage when other drivers violate the rules.

All of these articles stress the importance of personalized training so those with ASD can drive safely if they choose to do so. Is this an issue in your home? Would you like an objective professional to give you feedback on your concerns? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office so we can schedule an appointment and assess your situation.

For further information: Remote Education on Asperger Relationships.

Do You Feel Oppressed in Your Asperger Relationship?

Monday, May 11, 2015


"de Oppresso Liber." This motto comes from the elite US Army special forces unit, the Green Beret. It means Free the Oppressed or Freedom from Oppression. I think it could also be the motto for our Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group.

Meetup after Meetup I hear our members comment how relieved they are to find us and to know they are not alone. I’ve also received dozens of grateful emails from people who have read my two books, stating that they had no idea anyone understood the oppression they live with.

This group is not about complaining, but about setting ourselves free. It's about acknowledging that we have become tangled in the web of Aspie reasoning. . .so tangled that we have become sick, drained, confused, depressed, lost, enraged, you name it. After acknowledging the truth about what we have become and why, the next step is to free ourselves.

In addition to the Portland location, members are setting up local groups around the country. If you’re a Meetup member and want to start a group in your own location, let me know and I can post it to the Meetup calendar. As of now, there are Meetups in the SF Bay Area and Virginia. The best thing to do is to join the Meetup group so you can find out if there’s one near you plus, it gives you access to the teleconference. You can enjoy that from anywhere on the globe.

A number of the members have spoken about not having a safe, undisturbed place to listen at the time of the live call. Did you realize that there are recorded episodes that you can listen and learn from too?

The next local Meetup in Portland, Oregon for the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group is on Saturday, May 16th at 1:00pm. Or you can catch the same topic on the international teleconference on Friday, May 22nd at 2:30pm. Let's meet to discuss the steps you’re taking to win back your life.
De Oppresso Liber!

Oregon Social Security Income and Social Security Disability Benefits for Autistics Free Workshop

Thursday, April 30, 2015


autism SSI SSDI free workshop in Portland OregonIt can be a nightmare negotiating the intricacies of benefits offered through SSI and SSDI for our loved ones with Autism. So I’m happy to alert my Oregon readers to a free resource coming up next week. I think it’s going to be something you’ll want to attend if at all possible.

Autism Society of Oregon (ASO) is hosting a free event that will improve the lives of all affected by autism. It’s a Workshop entitled, “Plan for Work” Benefits Planning: Busting Myths on Work and SSI/SSDI Benefits. It will cover the following topics:

  • Overviews of Social Security Administration disability benefits program
  • Work incentives associated with Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Medicaid and Medicare connections to SSDI and SSI
  • Individual Development Accounts and the ABLE act.

Already registered? You may not be aware of this…there’s been such a huge response they’ve booked a larger venue and have moved the Workshop to a new location as noted below. Here are the details:

Date: Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Time: 6:00-8:00 pm
Place: Providence Portland Medical Center

Conference Room HCC1 (Basement level)

4805 NE Glisan, Portland OR 97213


It’s a free event, but you must register in order to attend by emailing events@AutismSocietyOregon.org or calling 503-636-1676.

Does Your Gut Health Really Affect Your Mental Health?

Thursday, April 23, 2015


good gut health promotes good mental healthYou’ve heard the expression “it’s a gut-feeling.” Is it merely a coincidence that the gut has been associated with our feelings and our mental health?? Science is revealing some fascinating insights into this question.

Scientific American reports that when a person’s digestion is impaired or leaky gut is present, the symptoms of depression worsen. This may be due to increased autoimmune responses and inflammation. A more recent article explores the connections between gut health and autism.

A NPR story about Dr Emeran Mayer, a profession of medicine and psychiatry at U.C.L.A. reports that gut bacteria influences our minds. He’s researching MRI scans to see how the brain structure compares to the type of bacteria found in the gut. He’s already found some interesting connections. This same story talks about a study on mice and how their brain chemistry and behavior changed when gut microbes were introduced.

Nature reported on a study that found that feeding mice the bacterium Bacteroides fragilis can reverse autism-like symptoms. They found that mice born by caesarean section had significantly more symptoms of depression since they didn’t pick up their mother’s microbes, which they would have done during a vaginal birth.

A recent Huffington Post article reports that treating participants with probiotics lessens negative thinking and depression.

Will all of these findings translate into real treatments for humans? Time will tell. I find these studies fascinating because of their impact on the world of Autistics. They often suffer from gut problems and learning new treatments for them is always exciting.

Improving a person’s physical health will improve their mental health. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and would like assistance in reaching your optimal physical and mental health through holistic methods, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

What Happens to Autistic Children Aging Out of School?

Monday, April 20, 2015


what programs are there for aging out autisticsAccording to experts, within the next 10 years, an estimated 500,000 autistic children will become too old for education through the local school districts. At the age of 21, these children graduate and have to find their own way in the world that is ill prepared for them.

Autistics (the term they prefer to be called) don’t grow out of their disability. So losing their structured routine is terrifying to them. It can undo the progress they’ve made and send them spiraling back into self destructive or isolating behavior. Many parents who have already experienced this describe it as falling off of a cliff or even being pushed off of a cliff.

Recently on a must-see Dateline Show, On the Brink, they followed the stories of two autistic boys for three years, chronicling their experiences as they aged out of the school system. The struggle these families go through in order to find specialized care for their sons is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

It’s required that each school district has a transition plan, a set of measurable goals to prepare autistics for adulthood. The reality falls far short of what is needed.

Let’s raise awareness of this issue and give continuing support to those we know personally in addition to everyone across the nation who struggles with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It’s a growing problem that we cannot afford to ignore.

I realize the caregivers of those with ASD need extra support and comfort as they carry a heavy load. I’ve formed a supportive network through international teleconferences and local meetups called Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Familiy of Adults with ASD. And I’m happy to now let you know that there are groups forming around the country so you may soon be able to meet in your own local area. Check here for the currently scheduled meetups. Please come and join us. You’re not alone.

Listen to the full Dateline Show here.

Check out Autism Speaks Transition Tools here.

President Obama Proclaims April 2 World Autism Awareness Day

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


On April 2nd, President Barack Obama issued a White House Proclamation recognizing April 2, 2015 as World Autism Awareness Day. Here, in part, is what he said:

“We celebrate the countless ways they (those on the autism spectrum) strengthen our communities and enrich our world…individuals with autism live independent and productive lives, and our Nation is better because of their unique talents and perspectives. Their example reminds us that all people have inherent dignity and worth, and that everyone deserves a fair shot at opportunity.

My Administration is committed to helping Americans with autism fulfill their potential by ensuring access to the resources and programs they need. The Affordable Care Act prohibits companies from denying health insurance because of pre-existing conditions such as autism, and the law also requires most insurance plans to cover preventive services -- including autism and developmental screenings for young children -- without copays. Last year, I was proud to sign the Autism CARES Act of 2014, which bolstered training and educational opportunities for professionals serving children or adults on the autism spectrum. And as part of the BRAIN Initiative, we continue to invest in innovative research that aims to revolutionize our understanding of conditions like autism and improve the lives of all who live with them.

Today, let us honor advocates, professionals, family members, and all who work to build brighter tomorrows alongside those with autism. Together, we can create a world free of barriers to inclusion and full of understanding and acceptance of the differences that make us strong. I encourage all Americans to learn more about autism and what they can do to support individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.”

I truly believe that as we learn to make better lives for our loved ones with ASD, we make better lives for everyone on the planet. Education and research into how the brain works are vital for understanding how best to help them. I’m committed to sharing with you the latest information and tools for furthering these endeavors.

Teachers and Parents – Check out Autism Speaks’ Puzzle Piece Project Tool Kit, a K-12 grade educational tool for creating greater awareness among students. If the children of today develop greater awareness, as adults of tomorrow they can continue making a real difference in the lives of those with ASD.

Read the entire White House Proclamation here.

Please, come over to my Facebook Page and share what you’re doing in support of Autism this month.



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