Finding Noah’s Voice – The Carburettor

A carburettor is a device used to combine air and fuel in an internal combustion engine.  They are also an excellent device for helping mechanically inclined four year old boys to develop their speech.  I discovered this fact during Noah’s speech therapy session today.

You may be wondering how attaching such a device to a four year old boy could possibly generate more articulate and fluent speech.  I don’t know either!  Maybe it could work, but we haven’t tried that yet.  But, when Noah is allowed to take it apart, it is an excellent motivational tool.

So much fun.  Let's take apart that carburettor.

So much fun. Let’s take apart that carburettor.

This year I took Noah along to a new speech therapist who specialises in apraxia of speech.  I was impressed with this young man from the beginning as he is highly knowledgeable in the area of apraxia and has the ability to engage, motivate and keep kids interested in their therapy while thinking it’s a huge game.

When we make the trip to Brisbane every week, Noah must pack some essential items for the road.  Number one is his tool box.  Now, this isn’t the ordinary assortment of plastic toy tools that the average young boy plays with.  Noah loves real tools.  He has claimed most of my husband’s screw drivers, spanners and wrenches, has a real tape measure and an assortment of nuts, bolts and screws he has collected.  Some people may think this is a safety issue.  We let him because the little guy actually has an aptitude for working with tools and intuitively knows how to use them and is generally safe with them.  Note, he does not have access to a real saw, pliers or cutting implements.  The toy tools also come along.

Noah’s speech therapist, being a guy, also does a bit of work on cars with his dad and now keeps his socket set in his rooms so Noah can play with them during a speech session.  Back to the carburettor.  How do you incorporate this into a speech lesson?  Well, it looks cool and immediately interests a little grease monkey in the making.  You then tell the little grease monkey that he gets to take it apart.  There’s a catch.  He must complete each word set before he gets the Holy Grail – the appropriate tool to remove each nut, bolt or screw.  And so we work our way through “wash car”, emphasis on the /sh/ sound and “bus go”, emphasis on /s/.  We also practice saying ‘open’ and ‘I want screw driver please’ and ‘turn bolt’.  By the end of the session, both Noah and the speech therapist have hands covered in grease.  Both are happy and Noah doesn’t even realise he’s been getting ‘therapy’.

Noah: "I've said the word, now hand me the screwdriver!"

Noah: “I’ve said the word, now hand me the screwdriver!”

So one day Noah will be able to speak…and take apart any car component.  He has also gotten to disassemble a headlight and an old battery operated game.  At home, he has taken apart his toy tool bench, removed the planks from our fort and taken apart a saucepan lid with no fewer than 5 components needed to get it back together!  Oh yes – the ultimate feat:  We got Noah to say car-bu-et-a.  Four syllable word.  High Five!