Dr. Kathy Marshack on the Radio Show “Autism with Dr. Andy McCabe”

Dr. Kathy Marshack outlines some practical tips that she’s gleaned throughout her personal and professional experience with those on the Autism Spectrum.Dr. Andy McCabe and his guests explore the world of alternative therapies for children on the Autism Spectrum. Recently, he interviewed me, and we had a delightful conversation about some tips I’ve gleaned throughout my personal and professional experience with Aspies. (You can listen to the 57 minute interview by clicking on this link.)We started by talking about how, even as a psychologist, it took me over a decade to get a diagnosis for my daughter. During that time I doubted myself, wondering what I was doing wrong. And while there were a number of things I could have done better, I came to realize that best thing I could do was to keep coming from that loving place and persisting in trying to connect.

It was so frustrating at times though, because not one professional got what I was talking about…the emphasis was always on helping the autistic deal with life, not helping me understand how to live with an Aspie. That’s why I began writing for non-Spectrum family members who are struggling to cope with their Spectrum loved ones. I knew I couldn’t be the only one out there experiencing this.

Some powerful nuggets I shared on the show are:

  • “Please trust that the other person means well, even if their behavior is odd.
  • Separate intent from behavior…they think that because they mean well it’s enough.
  • You have to realize it’s a communication error, it’s not personal.
  • Blaming and shaming is mean, so let’s not do that to ourselves and our loved ones.”

One brilliant idea emerged as Dr. Andy and I talked…look for the patterns. What do I mean?

There’s a saying: “Once you meet one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person,” because each one on the Spectrum is so different. But there are patterns that they universally recognize and use. And once you understand those patterns, you can help them communicate and connect more effectively.

For example, at seven years of age, my autistic daughter tried to explain her day at school by saying, “You’re a psychologist, right? You study patterns in people. Today we studied patterns in math.” Amazing observation from a seven year old, right? Aspies are great observers of people, yet they have so much trouble interacting with them.

Patterns are in everything around us. The more we can expand on the skill of recognizing the patterns that Aspies see, the more we can help them navigate through this world, even though they don’t operate from the theory of mind.

The part they miss is that they don’t think about communicating these patterns to us; they don’t think it’s exceptional or out of the ordinary. They think everyone sees it like they do.

We also discussed many other points from my books: Going Over the Edge, Out of Mind, and WHEN EMPATHY FAILS. I encourage you to listen to the full interview by clicking the link below.

Listen to Dr. Kathy Marshack on “Autism with Dr. Andy”

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