Finding Noah’s Voice: The Carpenter

Jesus was a carpenter.  Before he began his ministry, this was his trade, taught to him by his earthly father.  Noah was amazed to hear that Jesus was a carpenter.  When I first told him this he looked excited and said,”Really?” Noah is five years old and loves tools.  He always has, ever since he could pick them up.  Early presents of toy tool boxes and a tool bench have been his favourite toys.  He takes every opportunity to siphon off tools from Daddy’s toolbox to add to his own collection and is often found undoing screws with a real screw driver.  Bunnings is his favourite shop and he is always asking for another toolbox – the bigger the better.  When he grows up, he wants to be a ‘tool-man’. Recently, Grandad got a new shed.  Noah is very impressed with his new structure.  This Grandad has never really been a big handy man; more a potterer.  However, in retirement he has realised a dream – a man cave, a place to play with tools.  Noah has already been over to help construct his very own mini tool bench out of scrap wood, old nails and finished with a coat of white paint.  He couldn’t be happier with the result.  As long as he can swing a hammer, line up a ruler and draw a line or screw something together, he is happy.

Noah at work in Grandad's shed

Noah at work in Grandad’s shed

We appreciate the ability our little chap has with his hands, a wonderful strength when contrasted with his speech difficulties.  He is still working his way through the challenge of developing clear speech and working out the rules of expressive language.  Noah was born with Childhood Apraxia of Speech which means that his brain has trouble planning the precise movements that are needed for speech.

Over the last three years Noah has been a work in progress as we gradually accumulate the tools and skills needed to help unlock his voice and ability to communicate. This is a complex process because this is a severe speech disorder that affects the ability to produce every sound and every sound combination.  Each sound has to be separately learnt and practised – in isolation, then in combination with other sounds, moving onto words, short phrases and finally sentences.  A sound that is mastered on its own may be lost when Noah tries to say it in a word or a sentence.  We painstakingly practice each word and then through hand signals and touch cues help him to say it in a phrase or sentence, gradually removing the cues until he can say it on his own.  Noah has gradually added more sounds to his repertoire, but is still missing some key sounds.  These get substituted which makes it difficult to decipher what he is saying at times, especially with longer words or sentences.  This can lead to frustration because Noah has so much he wants to ask and say now.  Even though I understand him better than anyone, I still get stumped.  But Noah is resourceful and can find other ways to get his point across.

For example, yesterday we had this conversation.

Noah: Show me pi-ture of tar-tle?

Mummy: Turtle?

Noah: No!  Tar-sle.

Mummy: Dark Stool?!!

Noah: runs to get a piece of paper and draws picture of castle.

Mummy: Oh – castle!

Noah: Yes, with tur-et!

We then googled pictures of castles and discussed turrets, battlements, moats, royalty and knights.  He has been fascinated by castles lately.  Today we built one in the sandpit using broken bricks for turrets.  I got to be the princess! Noah and I have to be patient with one another as we continue to work on his speech.  I have to listen and reflect back what I hear and help him correct his articulation.  Noah has to try again and again to communicate if I don’t get it the first time, or second or third time. The work for Noah is not yet done.  The final piece will be amazing, no doubt.  He is learning to speak his mind.  We are learning to listen and rejoice because he is talking, imperfectly but beautifully.  Beautifully because we waited so long to hear his little voice.  He will grow up to work with his hands and take his place in this world.  So I finish with a prayer Noah recently offered up, simple but beautiful.

“Dear Dod (God),

Help me make things when I grow up.

Help me be dood (good).

Amen.”

Noah is in the hands of the ultimate carpenter who is able to do a work in each of us more amazing than a physical healing because His work lasts for eternity.

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