Tuesday, January 17, 2012


We like to play a game with Joe. We say a word or phrase or sound, like "Hee hee," and Joe responds by saying "No hee hee." Joe and I just made this up, but I think it's the perfect speech/play therapy game for a two and a half year old who loves nothing more than putting "no" in front of what you just said.

It usually goes like this:

Me: Hee hee.
Joe: No hee hee.
Me: Ho ho.
Joe: No ho ho.
Me: Hi hi.
Joe: No hi hi.

See? It encourages Joe to repeat sounds, while giving him the fun of saying "no" to everything! Enriching and hilarious!

The thing is, Joe uses made up words for certain items. Joe-isms, we call them. So, for some reason no one has fathomed, Joe calls cars "toys." (Did he get confused by "toy cars"? Who knows? This has been going on for a while.) He calls the garbage truck a "ga-ga guck." (An approximation, I think.) Milk has always been, and still is "gulky."

One of the strangest and funniest pieces of Joseph-ese: Fire truck is "tunnel ga-ga." I have no earthly clue.

So these days, this game often sounds like this:

Me: Car!
Joe: No toy.
Me: No car?
Joe: No toy. No toy.
Me: Fire truck?
Joe: No tunnel ga-ga.
Me: Fire. Truck. (Enunciating each sound.) Red fire truck.
Joe: No! No red. Tunnel. Ga-ga! (Enunciating each sound.)
Me: Fire.
Joe: No fire.
Me: Truck.
Joe: No truck.
Me: Fire truck.
Joe: No tunnel ga-ga!
Me: (Cracking up.)

Clearly Joe understands the words "car" and "fire truck," since he so consistently replaces them with his versions each time. No matter how many times we refer to the object by its correct name, Joe will patiently, with the tone of a caring but somewhat put-upon professor, correct us with the appropriate Joe-ism.

Rather than influencing Joe's speech, it seems Joe's training is having an effect on me, and I increasingly find myself referring to fire trucks as "tunnel ga-ga's."

It turns out that speech therapy can go both ways.


  1. i love your posts about his speech.. my 2 yr 2 mnth old is hardly speaking, and these posts give me hope. especially after so many early intervention meetings which are frustrating when she just is DONE with the 'games'!

  2. rofl. tunnel ga ga..that's awesome.

  3. Brilliant game - really turns the toddler 'no' thing on its head! We have quite a few tunnel ga-gas that have made their way into our family vocab. Kind of a secret family code. I like it.

  4. Thanks everyone! It is pretty darn adorable and funny, if I may say so. Joe has some strong, albeit unconventional, ideas about proper syntax.

    Krista, good luck with the assessment process! I did not enjoy that much, but I must say that being in EI has been awesome, so it was worth it. We're going through that all again now with the school district, and I'm having to give myself the same pep talk on a regular basis these days. :-)

  5. This story is too funny! I love how Joe is introducing you to his world!

  6. Oh man. That's funny. tunnel ga-ga :)


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