Today is Tuesday, March 14th…and my story begins…

So after watching a fascinating program on the History Channel about Comets last night (I didn’t realize it was a 2-hour show until I was already hooked), I trundled upstairs to bed at a very, very late hour. Walking up the stairs, I heard music coming from Tony’s room, and then realized he was awake and having a conversation with his musical (talking) frog. I listened at his door for a moment, and realized that he was fully awake. I decided to go in with a fresh cup of milk and change his diaper.

Tony was VERY talkative, and excited to see me (he said “hi dada” over and over until I picked him up) and so without any delay I settled him on the floor for a quick change. Afterwards, I laid him back down in his bed, and he immediately grabbed his turtle and said “ni-ni” and laid his turtle on its back and started making snoring sounds (for the turtle). He then said in his own distinctive way “wake up” and propped his turtle back up, and then started making him dance and jump, saying “jump, jump, jump!”

It was obvious that Tony wanted to discuss the finer points of his turtle’s active nightlife…at 2:30 in the morning.

So, we continued to pretend play. This is an extremely important development for Tony, since prior to his diagnosis, diet change, and therapy, he didn’t seem to have the ability (or desire) to pretend play with any object. In just a short 7 months we’ve seen Tony go from just obsessively fiddling with parts of toys (spinning wheels, lining up blocks, flipping pages back and forth without really paying attention to the pages themselves) to actively and appropriately playing with toys.

Back to Tony’s turtle…he now wanted to demonstrate the proper care and feeding of his plush little friend, and promptly put the cup of milk to the turtle’s mouth, and said “eat” and then “mouth” together. He did this a few times, and then decided that I obviously needed a lesson in turtle anatomy, and we went over the various body parts like “nose, mouth, eyes, hair, feet and paw.” (Yes, to answer your question, this turtle DOES in fact have paws!) I also asked Tony to “kiss” and he did this a number of times, either kissing his turtle directly, or blowing an air kiss with his hand and making the “mmm-whah” sound to imitate my kiss.

This continued for a little while, until I tried getting Tony to “sleep.” He pretended to be sleeping, and turned his head and closed his eyes and started snoring…then said, “wake up” and opened his eyes and sat upright. We did this for about 5 more minutes, until Tony decided that playing peek-a-boo from behind his turtle would be a fantastic game to play. So Tony covered his face with the turtle until I asked, “Where’s Tony” and then he’d move the turtle from his face and say something close to “I’m right here.” We did this for quite some time, until I trued to again suggest that it was time to go back to sleep. He was somewhat receptive to this, and pretended to sleep, and then wake up again. He was actively rubbing his eyes, so I knew he was tired…but he really seemed to need to communicate and connect with me…so I stayed a little longer in his room rubbing his head (he loves that) and just sort of softly speaking to him about what a wonderful conversationalist he was, and how proud I was of his accomplishments and that I knew inside his head he had HUGE stories to tell and was rapidly figuring out how to convey all of this to the world around him.

I left his room around 3 a.m., and he was quiet for a little while…and then Marlaina and I heard him start back up with his tall tales. Apparently his turtle is a very good listener. These stories…actually, I think he was trying to teach his turtle the new things he’s learned…continued until almost 4 a.m., and Tony slept for a few hours and woke back up with the same energy he had in the middle of the night.

I can only surmise that Tony’s brain is going through a period of intense development (to match his rapid physical growth) and he’s just mentally active and alert and reveling in his ability to finally tell his story. Since one of Autism’s hallmarks is a marked inability to facilitate communication, the fact that Tony is actively reaching out to communicate to/with us is so vitally important, that if he chooses to engage us in the middle of the night, so be it. There is never a bad time to talk to Tony!

Tony’s musical interest is still very high. He often will sit in his bed when it is naptime playing his toy piano and humming along. He’s more often than not on key, which is pretty amazing. He loves all forms of music that he hears during his NOGGIN and PBS programs, and will look at me when a song is playing and bop his head to the music and try and sing whatever song he hears. He is pretty obsessed with Blue’s Clues, but what 2-year old isn’t?

We watched Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Xmas two weekends ago and he absolutely LOVED it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any two-year old sit still through any movie. We watched the DVD again the next night, and he was still enthralled. Of course, with a musical score by Oingo-Boingo’s incredibly talented Danny Elfman, this only proves that Tony has terrific musical taste. He also really enjoyed HAIR!, and Wizard of Oz. Interestingly enough, he does NOT like Michael Crawford’s version of Phantom, but loved the film adaptation of the musical. Tony does NOT like country music as a rule, and much more prefers classic rock, hippie rock, and singers like Billy Joel, Jimmy Buffet, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, and Van Morrison. Do not even attempt to force him to listen to a “hair band” because he’ll have none of it!

Tony has a morning ritual that is pretty funny, that I need to mention for posterity. Since Marlaina wakes up before me (I often work later into the evening) she and Tony bathe first, and then Tony excitedly bursts into our bedroom to wake me up. He is very demanding in this respect. His day MUST start off with a visit to wake up his dad…and after he’s made sure that I “wake up” he will finally allow Marlaina to get him dressed and ready for his day. Whether or not this is part of his ritual, or just a genuine desire to see me in the morning is subject to interpretation. It feels more like a desire, though…since he has a definite need to make sure I am awake before he continues his day. It is pretty funny, though, in the sense that every morning begins with a Seussian homage to “Hop on Pop.”


(I imagine there are far worse ways to wake up and start your day…)

This past weekend we managed once again to visit my parents in Beaufort (there was a fund raiser for the Democrats) and while the oyster roast wasn’t really Tony cup of tea, after retiring back to the Bay Street house Tony found his groove running around the front yard and climbing up and down the stairs of the big wraparound porch. This kind of physical exercise is so important to his well being…He always seems to be more relaxed after releasing so much energy.

Tony’s diet still consists mostly of chicken and potatoes and spicy bean chips…but since he gets an abundance of vitamin and Omega 3/6 supplements, I’m not overly concerned about his food intake. For certain, Tony bears little resemblance to the multitudes of overweight 2/3 year-olds we see about the area. He is broad shouldered, very solid, and has no belly.

Ok…so if this sounds a little rambling, I apologize. Lack of quality sleep last night is playing into all of this. Hopefully anyone reading this can take away useful information!

Onwards and upwards, Tony!