Many of Tony’s fans and family are probably wondering why his site hasn’t been updated in more than a week.


We’re going through a transition right now with Tony’s family of educators (ABA therapists), with his Tall Blonde Girl Whitney off to grad school on the beaches of Wilmington, NC, and Parker suddenly leaving us as well. We do have Danielle, who we hired a few short weeks ago…and she is doing amazingly well with Tony despite any real formal training in ABA or in dealing with Autistic children. She seems to have a natural ease about her, and Tony really likes her. There is a natural chemistry there that just works. I’m grateful for that.

Today is my 40th birthday…and that’s all I have to say about that. But I felt that it was a good time to update Tony’s site, share some of my own thoughts about the last few months, and look forward to the future.

Tony’s last few weeks have had their typical ups and downs. On the one hand, we’re down two trained therapists…but on the other hand, Tony has a new friend in Danielle and she is handling things on a level most trained therapists sometimes never manage. Marlaina and I felt this transition would take the last of our sanity from us…and it came close…but Tony has remarkably shown that on his own, he can find his own way. This isn’t to say that his talented entourage is no longer needed; rather, Tony has progressed so far, and in so many ways, that when left to his own devices he will sing songs, interact with us while we’re working, and appropriately play with his favorite toys. In a way, this transition has proven to us what we “think” we’ve seen…his development of typical patterns of behavior and interaction.

This isn’t to say that Tony is any less Autistic, per se, but he has shown in the last few weeks just how radical his changes have been. When he plays quietly by himself, these days, it isn’t obsessive stacking of blocks or lining up of objects (although he still occasionally does this with crayons) but more like creative play with his plastic people (there’s “a Mom” and “a Dad” and “a Sissy” and even “a Tony”) who he likes to have interact with each other in a bathtub.

Yeah…they apparently love being in a bathtub together! I like to think he’s really wishing for them to be in a SAILBOAT…but that’s just me. You all know how I feel about sailboats. Note to self: Stay on top of teaching Tony “Where’s our sailboat?”

His plastic family has conversations with each other…many times about crayons and Nightmare Before Xmas (his FAVORITE movie of all time) and even his latest favorite drink: pink water. It’s a vitamin water made by Glaceau (Hey, guys, sponsor us already!) and he absolutely craves the fortified liquid. Oh, on that note, Marlaina and I believe Tony has figured out that we’ve been spiking his drinks with other vitamins and nutrients (Omega 3/6 and such) and he’s sort of gone on strike with most of his sippie cups. He now prefers to drink out of his Wiggles cups (What, you don’t know who the Wiggles are???) and insists on watching us pour the water straight in from the bottle.

He’s too smart.

Thanks to his incredible speech pathologist Jill, his language skills are more expressive than ever. And now, when he wants something and doesn’t know the word for it, he actually points. This is a MAJOR milestone in his development! A few nights ago when I put him down for a nap, he requested “pik” over and over again. I didn’t know what “pik” meant…and so I asked him what “pik” was. He kept saying it over and over and over…and finally got so frustrated with me that he POINTED towards his bookcase and said “PIK!”

Dumb dad that I am, I didn’t realize that he was asking to “pick” one of his own videos, instead of me just calling out titles. He had been working on this with his therapists, and was pretty in control of knowing what HE wanted. BUT, better still, he POINTED AT SOMETHING he wanted. I was blown away by this revelation.

He has continued to point at some objects, in association with verbal commands…so this is a brave new world we’re entering.

Verbally, he continues to put words together and make small sentences. Tony also seems to be babbling incessantly these days…like he is struggling to make his mouth form the words he hears in his head. He still has miles to go…and yet he has come so far with communication. (Did I say THANKS JILL enough? I need to!)

Tony and Jill, his amazing Speech Pathologist

Tony is affectionate in ways that we’ve read most Autistic children are not. He actually asks for, and receives (of course) hugs and kisses. And he does thrive on interaction with us. Sometimes that is hard to remember when I’m in the middle of a business call or Web site update or some other advertising-related aspect of our business. Life here is sort of ¼ ad agency, ¼ Tony’s Restaurant, ¼ Pre-School, and ¼ Zoo.

That’s Being Tony for you!

I look forward to the next 40 years of Being (with) Tony.

Anton – “a Dad!”