On my list of favorite holidays, Christmas comes in a solid #1 with Thanksgiving following closely behind at #1b. The food, giving thanks to God, family, fun, food, good cheer, food, football… did I mention food? It’s the perfect time to take a step back and spend some time with your family doing the things we love most: watching the Dallas Cowboys and stuff ourselves into a coma.
Safety is a huge issue around the holidays and for autism families, it’s magnified by a factor of 1,000. Some of the traditions we enjoy around the holidays can be quite dangerous. So I will offer a few of my safety tips for something that seems to send multitudes of folks to the emergency room every fourth Thursday in November – frying turkeys. So here goes:
1. Do --> thaw the bird in the bottom of the refrigerator for about a week ahead of time (a little less or more depending on the weight of the bird). If you forget (and you will), it’s okay to thaw the turkey in a COLD bath while leaving the plastic on. An hour before you are ready to put the bird on to cook, set it out and let it get to room temperature.
Don’t --> set the turkey out on the back porch for a week at 80 degrees and then bring it in and think you’re going to have a holly jolly Christmas. Another idiot move people make is to put a fully frozen bird into a scalding hot vat of oil and create a projectile turkey rocket (see YouTube).
2. Do --> when frying or smoking a turkey, move it away from any structures and set the burner on a solid, non-flammable surface.
Don’t --> try and fry the damn thing in the living room, garage, deck or even near a fence. Every Thanksgiving several will undoubtedly set their house on fire or asphyxiate themselves by trying it in the living room.
3. Do --> when frying a turkey, ensure you are using the proper amount of oil. If you are unsure, it is a good idea to put the bird in and fill it to the proper level with water before you ever start the oil to heating.
Don’t --> fill the damn pot brim full, heat it to 350, and expect to not have third degree burns (again, see YouTube).
These are just a few tips that will help you have a safe and fun holiday with your family. If you’re cooking, it is important to make sure your children are occupied with other activities. I’m sorry to say that we have had to take our son to the ER with severe burns on his hand and I have witnessed a young boy have to have his arm amputated due to a horrific accident with a turkey fryer.
Also, keep the alcohol to a sensible level. Too many stories about horrible accidents begin with “we were out drinking one day.” Use common sense and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
It's that time of year again - Halloween! Growing up, this was definitely my favorite time of year. Halloween always signaled the kickoff of the holiday season. The holidays were and are very important to me and my family. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas were such a wonderful time in our household. My parents went to tremendous efforts to make this a special time of year and I wanted the same thing for my kids.
With Rudy, Halloween is just different (there's that word "different" again). About the time he turned four, we began to notice a severe distaste for having anything covering his head, which is an issue for 99.9% of the Halloween costumes on the market. Of course, there were also the social and communication issues and, to be honest, Halloween was a severe disappointment (we will cover Thanksgiving and Christmas in the coming weeks).
Autism families will just have to concede that the holidays will be different than what you and I remember. I talk quite a bit in "Totally Lost" about how we have made the best of Halloween and it gets better every year. Last year, 2018, he actually wore a Ninja Turtle costume, mask and all, for the first time. We were very excited and had a great time.
Fast forward to this year, and you'll never guess what costume he chose again this year?? Yep... exact same one as last year (hey it was on clearance so we didn't gripe). So this is another example of how you should keep the faith and keep living life as you want it, not as you currently have it... Good things usually happen.
This past Saturday, August 31st, I had the pleasure of being asked back to my hometown of Lubbock, TX to do a book signing at Barnes & Noble. The Texas South Plains is a wonderful place that I am proud to call my home. My wonderful parents still live there, I still have many family and friends there, and Texas Tech University still holds a special place in my heart. Lubbock will always be home and I thank the team at Barnes & Noble for inviting me back.
At the signing I met a wonderful young woman, who will remain nameless, but who gives me hope for my son. Her and her mother-in-law came up to me and as we talked, the young lady revealed that she was also on the autism spectrum. She was a beautiful young lady with a successful career as a graphic designer and recently found out she is expecting her first child.
Her strength was on full display and she gave me hope for our future.
It never fails that when I go out and talk about my son, I'm always filled with hope by someone who has made the most out of the hand they were dealt in life and are not letting anything stand in their way.
So to this young woman, and you know who you are, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart.
My website has been up and running for a couple of weeks now and the feedback has been amazing! I enjoy any feedback or constructive criticism, so email me if you need any improvements that could be made to the website.
I am looking forward to my book signing at the Lubbock Barnes & Noble on Saturday August 31st at 2pm. Looking forward to seeing all my friends and family in Lubbock and meeting new people!
Life is strange, I think we can all agree on that. For me, life was going according to plan (I’m a planner by nature). I graduated from high school in 2002, went the very traditional route to college, and graduated with a degree in Business Administration in four years. By the age of 22, I had a degree, a career, and married the girl of my dreams. By age 30, I had an MBA, was pursuing my dream of getting a PhD, and had changed careers to my real passion – higher education. My wife and I also had a beautiful three year old little boy that we will call “Rudy.” If you want to know more about him, read Totally Lost.
Life was perfect. Life has gone according to plan, which is a big thing for me. So why am I telling you all of this? Because less than two years later, life would throw me a curve ball. Up to this point, I had crushed fastball after fastball out of the park and that just was not the plan God had for me. Nothing in life comes easy and, pardon my hubris here, but to this point, I was making it look easy.
My son was diagnosed on March 17, 2017, a date which for us, will live in infamy. We were never the same after that day… I was never the same. We knew my son had issues as his speech was very delayed and remains so to this day, but nothing prepared us for receiving an autism diagnosis.
The only thing I knew to do after receiving that diagnosis was put my talents to work for my son and everyone else who struggles with this condition. I hope that you enjoy my site, my books, and the fun things that are to come! I always welcome feedback and any suggestions – JohnDRichmondAuthor@gmail.com.
Come join me and my family in our autism journey!