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Kathy Marshack News

Do You Live in the ADHD or ASD Time Zone?

Monday, October 01, 2018


Woman holding a clock signifies Many people with ADHD or Aspergers have trouble managing their time because they have trouble being present in the moment. Throughout the world, our clocks run on different time zones. And we all seem to be battling the clock. There never seems to be enough time to get everything done. People with ADHD or Aspergers find this especially challenging, because they have trouble being present in the moment. The ADHD or ASD brain can’t anticipate and plan for the future. This typically shows up in two ways:

They have a short time horizon. They can’t “see” very far into the future, so they lack motivation to act and consequently ignore deadlines. They think that since the deadline isn’t today, they don’t have to get started. Then when the deadline arrives, they’re totally taken by surprise.

They engage in time discounting. The further into the future a reward or punishment is, the less important it is. For example, they start watching TV at 9 AM and keep doing it until mom gets home at 7 PM and is mad because the room isn’t clean.

The secret to dealing with ADHD Time or ASD Time is learning to manage behaviors and choices in the present moment while keeping long-term goals in mind. When your internal clock isn’t in sync with reality, you need to use external tools and strategies that engage all of your senses. Here are a few suggestions:

Sight: Use the moving hands of old-fashioned analog clock (not digital, it’s too distracting) to emphasize the passage of time. Challenge yourself by saying, “before the minute hand get to (insert the position), I’m going to have (the amount of work) done.”

Hearing: Use audible reminders such alarms or phone notifications to remind you of your present deadline.

Touch: Set up your work environment to eliminate distractions and force yourself to get started and stay on task. Doing five minutes worth of work can lead to the next five minutes and so on…

Smell and Taste
: When you accomplish your timed task, reward yourself with a small portion of something that you especially love – like a sip of coffee, a mint, or a bite of apple. Set out another small task and tell yourself you can have another sip/bite when you finish that.

Imagination: Create a movie in your head of the worst case scenario if you don’t get it done and how that will feel. Next, imagine yourself easily accomplishing the task. Don’t make it difficult or turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy; the longer you procrastinate, the more difficult or impossible the project becomes.

Stop telling yourself these lies…

  • I have plenty of time. 
  • I can do it tomorrow. 
  • I don’t really have to do it now.
  • I work better under pressure.
  • It’s too hard. 
  • I have anxiety, I can’t do it.

While it’s important to identify emotions, such as anxiety, you can’t let those emotions become excuses. Instead, find appropriate solutions. What strategies work for you? I’d love to hear about them over on my Facebook page.

How to Keep Aspie Negative Thinking from Spoiling Your Happiness

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


Learn how to keep Asperger negative thinking from rubbing off on you and spoiling your happiness.Our Aspie’s (People with Asperger’s Syndrome.) can be so negative that it’s infuriating. Do you ever feel like you don’t even want to bring up a topic of conversation, or make a simple request, because you know you’ll get a resounding “NO!”? Or you’re tired of hearing all of their “reasons” why something you’ve said is wrong or awful? Or you just can’t stand being ignored any longer?

Unfortunately, this type of interaction with your Aspie breeds negativity in you as well. Think about it. If you aren’t allowed to have a normal give-and-take in a relationship, your small negative thoughts and feelings can simmer and build unresolved stress that eventually grows into big grievances. Or perhaps your negativity has turned inwardly to depression or even physical illness.

We need better self-care than staying negative in a relationship with a negative person.

It helps to understand how your brain works around negativity. It’s naturally sensitive to negativity as way to signal your body to protect yourself. However, your amygdala doesn’t distinguish between a real threat and your negative family member. So your brain turns an inordinate amount of attention to that negative source – and your happy mood is gone.

Before dealing with a Negative Nelly, it would be good to check to see how much of your negative reactions come from your own internal issues. Identify your triggers – the things that instantly make you mad, bad, or sad. It can be what they say or how they say it. Notice if you can see any similarities between your triggers. What is the real issue - why does it makes you feel particularly defensive and uncomfortable? I’ve found that N.E.T. is very helpful for healing emotional pain.

Knowing why something happens is a lot different from knowing how to fix it. If you want to understand and intervene in these two very different aspects of negativity please join my video conference: CLEARING NEGATIVE THINKING IN ASD/NT RELATIONSHIPS, which will be held Tuesday, October 16th and Tuesday, October 23rd. Learn to stop your Aspie’s negative reactions before they get started. And learn to soothe your own heart in the face of this type of Empathy Dysfunction.

Learn more about Empathy Dysfunction: I invite you to download a free chapter from “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.”

Does Your Love Relationship Feel One-Sided? 10 Signs it Is!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


My Neuro-Typical clients describe their relationships with their Autistic loved ones as feeling one-sided.

When you fell in love with your life partner, you, no doubt, had expectations that your emotional and physical needs would be met. As you got to know each other, you opened up and talked. You were on your way to building emotional intimacy. When you began a life together, you felt loved and wanted. But what do you do when your life dramatically changes on you? Is there any way to cope when you feel like you’re married to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?


That’s the life many of my Neuro-Typical clients live. They often describe their relationships with their Autistic loved ones as feeling one-sided. It’s odd isn’t it that our Aspies don’t feel the same way? As long as their needs are met, they don’t seem to notice that we’re lonesome, sad, or frustrated. Worse, when we try to explain how we feel, they draw a blank look or get defensive. Once again it’s one-sided…and not in our favor.

So how do you know if you’re in a one-sided relationship?

  1. You have to initiate conversation.
  2. Your partner takes, without giving.
  3. You give up your friends for his or quit socializing altogether.
  4. You apologize for things you shouldn’t have to.
  5. You’re always soothing ruffled feathers.
  6. You justify his behavior to friends and family.
  7. You never feel peace, but you’re always walking on egg shells.
  8. You’re made to feel like you’re a burden or an afterthought.
  9. You’re loving gestures aren’t reciprocated.
  10. You feel alone.

Feeling like your relationship is one-sided doesn’t necessarily mean your partner doesn’t care about you, in his or her own way. Lack of empathy is the reason for this one-sidedness, but that reason isn’t comforting is it? Instead we need tools for interacting with our Aspies, since they aren’t wired to connect. We also need tools to keep from going crazy over these one-way relationships.

One of the necessary tools is our Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, where you can at least connect with others who get it. Support is essential to your mental health. But there are other more direct tools too. There are ways to problem solve with your ASD loved ones, even if their default mode is one-way.

If this topic interests you, and you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, please make plans to attend our Video Conference: “One-Way Relationships.” It will be held on both Tuesday, October 2nd and Thursday, October 11th. Let’s explore all of your options.

If you prefer one-on-one counseling, 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.

What Makes You So Afraid to Speak Around Your Aspie?

Monday, September 03, 2018


Do you fear speaking up around your family member who has Asperger’s, because of how he will react? Do you also worry that others will reject you, if you speak up? I understand. You’re not alone.Many people describe living with someone with Asperger’s as walking on eggshells. This especially is true, when speaking directly to your spouse who has Asperger’s. It’s so easy to say something that will set them off into a defensive tirade.

But this walking on eggshells also extends to when you’re talking with others. You feel like you have to run everything you say through a mental filter of questions like:

  • Will what I say make others think less of my spouse, even though it’s true?
  • Will I reveal too much about my situation and cause others to feel uncomfortable?
  • Or worse, will what I say cause them to reject me or dismissively respond, “You’re overreacting a bit, aren’t you? It can’t be THAT bad.”
  • Will my spouse take offense and bluntly belittle me in front of everyone?
  • Will I face the silent treatment, or worse, once we get home?

After years of running your every thought and comment through this mental filter, you get really good at hiding what you think and feel. Because of your empathy, you still want to protect your spouse from ridicule, even though he (or she) will never appreciate that you’re doing so. You also might think it’s worth it to protect yourself from criticism or open threats and downright terrorism from your Aspie. You just want to keep peace in the family. But is it worth it?

Interestingly, within our Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, I notice that roughly half of the members don’t post a photograph or use their true names. This is perfectly fine with me. In fact when I started our group nine years ago, I made a conscious decision to protect the privacy of our members. If people need to protect their identities for safety reasons, I support you.

However, this phenomenon of being secretive is also indicative of fear, the kind of fear that comes from years of chronic emotional stress that comes with living with Aspies. The only way to conquer this fear is to talk about it with others in this group, who really get it.

It’s time isn’t it? Time to take your life back. Time to laugh again. Time to know that the real you is worthy. Time to know that others really want to know you. I do. Please come to the teleconference: “Why are we so afraid?” on Thursday, September 20th and share your story if you wish. Or just support others who take the plunge.

If you’re not ready to open up within a group setting 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. It’s time you reclaim your life.

Love Versus Logic - Why Simple Conversations with Aspies go Awry

Monday, August 27, 2018


Contributing toward the communication gap between those with aspergers and their neuro-typical partners is the Love VS Logic conversation styles.As a parent, you want a happy and healthy home for your family. And your Aspie partner does too. But when it comes to discussing a specific area that needs attention, your Aspie partner takes your comments as a direct criticism of his or her identity as a good marriage mate and parent. So right away defensive explanations begin to fly, and, before you know it, it’s turned into an all-out argument. How did it go so wrong? All you wanted was to open a dialogue and start a conversation.

No wonder it's such a jumble with our Aspies when we try to have a simple conversation. You’re nowhere near being on the same page. You’re assessing everything first from an empathic perspective, which requires tuning into your feelings and the feelings of the other. Your Aspie, on the other hand, is focused on the logic.

Of course, love doesn't lack logic, but we start with love to prepare the space for our conversation. Logic comes second. But not so with Aspies. There often is no second tier for Aspies; it's logic all of the way. It's not that your Aspie has no emotions. It's that they don't use them to assess their interaction with you. Logic is easier and simpler. As a result, they miss the nuances that logic doesn’t assess.

If you want to understand your Aspie, listen to the logic and stop searching for the nuance. You might even disregard the nuance entirely, since your Aspie may inadvertently use the wrong tone or gesture, which only confuses the communication. And certainly don't expect them to integrate your nuances into the meaning of your logic.

Don’t give up hope. It's not as complicated as it sounds.

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: Love VS Logic. It will be held on September 4th and again on September 18th. I'll help guide you through this conversation gap, so you better understand your logical Aspie.

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 also offer online therapy, if that works best for your busy schedule.

Can Autistics Tell Lies?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


all people lie, but how Autistics lie is unique. It’s that uniqueness that gums up our relationships. I am not sure who started the rumor that those with ASD don’t lie, and even that they are incapable of lying. Clearly this is not true. Sadly, all people lie, but how Autistics lie is unique. It’s that uniqueness that gums up our relationships.

Without empathy, Autistics lie similarly to psychopaths, although Autistics don't have the ruthless intent. They aren't considering how we will feel when they lie to us. They aren't even considering a "smooth" way to lie. They just lie to avoid confrontation, anxiety, being wrong, or any number of reasons the rest of us may lie.


When confronted with their lies autistics have a variety of defenses that mimic psychopaths too.

  • They tell us they "never said that." 
  • They elaborate the lie. 
  • They change the subject. 
  • They ignore us. 
  • They even lie when the truth would work better. 

What's with that?

It might just be that they need help with what I call the Rules of Engagement. They don't always have the social awareness that lying will cause harm to the relationship. Once they get this, they try harder. This is a tough subject, so I have reserved it for a small group of people who sign up for the Video Conference, “Yes! Aspies do lie” held on September 11th and again on September 25th. Together we’ll get a handle on this.

If you would rather work in-person with me, 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 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.

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.



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