Autism – A Family Journey by Cindy Rasmussen

Autism – A Family Journey by Cindy Rasmussen

This post introduces you to a memoir which chronicles one family’s experiences with an autistic son as told by his mother. It is titled Autism – A Family Journey by Cindy Rasmussen. The book charts the difficult but inspiring course Cindy Rasmussen’s family navigated in their search to find the support and services their autistic son needed all the while raising two other sons.

It is an engaging and emotional story as you read about Steven and follow his life from birth, to his autistic diagnosis at age 3, to the present as a man in his early 40’s. Cindy Rasmussen’s inspiring book is an honest portrayal of what it is like to live with autism on a daily basis.

This 226 page book is divided in five parts. True as in its title, Autism – A Family Journey, Steven’s father and two brothers have written each a chapter and they share personal and heartfelt accounts of their experience living with an autistic member in their family.

Cindy explains Steven’s early tantrums and other challenging, dangerous behaviors as you can read in the excerpt below. Like many autistic individuals, Steven had two fascinations: swimming pools and elevators. He also could not tolerate transitions from routine. His teen years brought on other problems.

This compelling, eye-opening, true story should be read by every one. Families raising a child on the autism spectrum will be able to relate to Cindy’s family and feel they are not alone. Other readers will learn a lot about autism and about the demands on all family members, the determination and perseverance needed to navigate health and educational services, and the domino effects that happen in a family unit when life gets difficult.

Cindy Rasmussen says: “If you are the parent of an autistic child, I also want to share our story with you so that you know that you are not alone. Your journey will be different than ours because every child is an individual and every family is unique…

…We have found no perfect solutions, and we made many mistakes along the way, but we have found ways to overcome the obstacles and to find joy and fulfillment in knowing and loving our autistic child. It is my hope that our story will encourage you to also find a rewarding journey in life.”

What is being said about Autism – A Family Journey

On we find: 

This is a very realistic book about the trials and joys of raising an autistic son. I cried and laughed as Cindy shared very real emotions and incidents with her autistic son and both of her normal sons. That affliction affects the entire family and it was unusual to be able read the very real accounts from each family member. Cindy’s experience revealed the ups and downs of working with doctors and educators to help her son. Although it wasn’t easy, she and Phil maintained their marriage and family. This heartfelt determination to continue in the face of great adversity is an inspiration to me. The family pictures really add an appealing and personal warmth to the written words. I would highly recommend this book to people who want to know more about how to relate to an autistic person. I would also recommend it to families raising autistic children. It would also benefit doctors, pastors, family counselors and educators who are in a position to support and encourage families trying to raise an autistic child. ~ on August 3, 2017

Raising a child always comes with challenges, and common sense tells you that raising an autistic child has even more challenges. But I never fully understood the depth of these challenges. That is, I never fully understood until I read this book. The author tells us in the preface she wrote this book so her adult children can have the facts to understand the circumstances surrounding their childhood. I neither have an autistic child, nor an autistic sibling. Yet right from the start, even before the main body of the book begins, Ms. Rasmussen writes with such honesty, succinctness, and purpose that it results in the reader immediately developing empathy. Along with empathy this book addresses; how “the system” works for an autistic person in the need of services; an understanding of social issues facing autistic children and adults; and the numerous (and for me overwhelming) obstacles facing parents throughout the life span of an autistic person. Kudos to Ms. Rasmussen for educating readers by sharing her experiences of the triumphs and setbacks of her family life. ~ on June 12, 2017

I had the pleasure of working with Cindy Rasmussen on her book about her autistic son, Steven, and the trials and tribulations of trying to get him the diagnosis, education, care, occupation and housing he has needed throughout his childhood and adulthood so that he can be happy and thrive. Everyone in Steven’s family such a positive attitude about Steven. This book will be very inspiring to everyone who reads it – particularly families with autistic members, whether children or adult.

About the Book: Autism – A Family Journey

When Cindy and Phil Rasmussen welcomed baby son Steven into the world in 1971, the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder also was in its infancy. In Autism – A Family Journey, published this month by Kitsap Publishing, Cindy charts the difficult but inspiring course they have navigated ever since through a maze of medical institutions, schools and bureaucracies in California and Washington state, in their quest to ensure a happy, healthy and productive life for Steven while at the same time providing some level of normal family life for their other two sons.

Cindy wrote the book to give those sons, Mark and Geoffrey, some insight into things that happened to their family while they were growing up. But she also wanted to share Steven’s story with other families that have autistic children and, particularly, autistic adults who need care and occupation in their adult years.

“If you are the parent of an autistic child, I want to share our story with you so you will know you are not alone,” Cindy Rasmussen wrote in her introduction to the book. “Our story does not have a ‘happily ever after’ ending, but it is a story of hope and encouragement.”

Excerpt from Autism – A Family Journey

The Escape Artist

“Since [Steven] had no fear and no concept of danger, my days became nightmarish just watching over him every minute of every day. He also seemed never to sleep and eventually took over our nights. He wandered around the house at night, and we worried that he could go outside and become lost in the dark. Our house was in a particularly dangerous location, as it was perched on a 90-foot high bluff above the ocean. Even though the play yard was on the street side with no access to the bluff, and we installed childproof locks on all of the doors and windows on the inside, Steven still managed to escape.

One day the next-door neighbor rang the doorbell in the middle of the day and told me that one of the children was on a ledge approximately 10 feet below the top of the bluff. Of course it was Steven. One misstep, and he would fall to his death below on the beach. There was no time to do anything except try to reach him before he could, so the neighbor and I approached him carefully. The neighbor climbed down to him and handed him up to me. I had thought he was in his room napping, but he had unlocked the window and climbed out.”

About the Author

Cindy Rasmussen Author of Autism -- A Family Journey Cindy Rasmussen was born in Colorado as the oldest of six children. She moved to California in the early 1960s and earned a BA degree in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1965. Shortly thereafter, she became a Social Caseworker for the San Diego County Department of Public Welfare. In 1966, she married Phil Rasmussen, an officer in the U.S Navy working for the elite special forces now known as Navy SEAL’s. The couple has three children, Mark, born in 1969; Steven, born in 1971, and Geoffrey, born in 1977. Life with Steven is the inspiration for Cindy’s book, Autism – a Family Journey.

Cindy and Phil now divide their time between Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula and Jensen Beach, Florida.

Follow Cindy Rasmussen: 

Cindy’s website

Buy: Autism – A Family Journey by Cindy Rasmussen

This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.