By Kristina Houck
When he was nearly 3 years old, Andrew wasn’t talking like other toddlers his age. Cristina Liberati-Basser was concerned, but doctors repeatedly told her he was “fine” and just a “late bloomer.” Until, one day, he was diagnosed with autism.
“I felt like I failed him,” said Liberati-Basser, who, at the time, was a mother to three children under 3 years old. “I hadn’t seen the signs.”
The Rancho Santa Fe author shares her personal journey of raising a son with autism in the recently released “Answers From Andrew.” From Andrew’s diagnosis to how he’s doing today, the personal narrative gives an intimate insight into one mother’s experience.
“It’s kind of like you found my diary from the time I had him to where we are now,” she said.
Born and raised in Seattle, Liberati-Basser earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She began her career at KPHO, the local CBS affiliate in Phoenix.
Liberati-Basser relocated to San Diego eight years ago to enroll Andrew in San Marcos Unified School District’s Early Childhood Intervention program.
Now 10 years old, Andrew just completed fifth grade at Solana Santa Fe Elementary School. Liberati-Basser noted her son was part of a mainstream classroom with an aide.
“He’s a really bright and interesting kid,” she said. “He really has a lot to offer. He is kind and loving. He’s got a heart of gold. He would give you the shirt off his back or his last cookie.
“I’m really, really proud of all his hard work. He’s really invested in his own outcome. That makes me really proud as a mom.”
“Answers From Andrew” is Liberati-Basser’s first book, with most of the content from her personal journals. She decided to share her journal entries with the world so others can better understand autism.
“For people who know somebody with autism, but aren’t raising somebody with autism, I hope they have a better understanding of the challenges families and caregivers face,” Liberati-Basser said.
“For the moms, dads and people who love somebody with autism, I hope they know that they’re not alone. Somebody else is really walking the journey with them,” she added. “It may be different because every kid is different, but there is somebody out there who understands what they’re going through. … There’s hope. We all love our kids and we all want what’s best for them.”
Published in April by BookBaby, “Answers From Andrew” is available online on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
For more information, visit www.answersfromandrew.com.
A reception for Liberati-Basser’s book was recently held at 067 Eatery in RSF. Event photos are on this page.