Riddle Brook Elementary School staff helps prepare boy for TV ad appearance
Carter Murai tries on some reindeer antlers with help from his aid, Laurie Kroeger, at Riddle Brook Elementary School. (COURTESY)
Seven-year-old Carter Murai has Down's Syndrome, and his parents weren't sure he'd be considered for the part in a Care.com ad that began running last week.
A friend of the family had seen an ad that sought a child with Down's Syndrome and the Murais took a chance.
"I wasn't sure how well he was going to do with all of these lights and cameras," said dad Marc, of Carter's audition in a Boston studio. "But he did fine."
Carter was cast in the ad for babysitter and nanny search company Care.com. When it came time to practice his lines, though, Marc said Carter had some difficulty.
"He would speed through them really fast, you couldn't really understand what he was saying," he said.
Carter's speech teachers at Riddle Brook Elementary School came to the rescue, offering him a technique that would help.
The words of Carter's lines were written on long strips of paper, and those coaching Carter would point to the words he would have to say, thereby controlling the cadence and speed of the words.
"After doing that for a couple of days, he was able to do it," Marc said.
Christine Bowman, a speech and language pathologist at Riddle Brook Elementary School, said helping Carter practice for the commercial helped to reinforce the lessons he'd been learning at school.
"He's a fast talker. He works a lot on his sound production, as well as his speed," Bowman said.
Bowman said the special education team at Riddle Brook works with Carter throughout his day to reinforce his speech production, and preparing for the commercial gave him a concrete goal.
"It was a really nice opportunity for him to put his strategies into place for something that was meaningful to him," she said.
Once Carter mastered the lines, a childhood rite of passage complicated things further - Carter lost his two front teeth, just before filming was set to begin.
"We were worried he wouldn't be able to enunciate at all," said Marc, and again, Carter's speech therapists came to the rescue.
"They worked with him again, and he did great," he added.
In the commercial, Carter added some words in sign language, which he had been using since he was a baby.
"It was neat to see him speak the lines and be understood, but also to see him throw the sign language in," said Marc.
Bowman said the staff was happy to hear about Carter's role in the ad.
"We thought it was very exciting," she said. "He's such a great, engaging little boy."
Marc said Carter, who loves to dance and perform, has been enjoying seeing himself on TV, and that it wouldn't have happened without the help of the Riddle Brook staff.
"They're really dedicated in what they do," he said. "And this is just a great example of how successful these children can be with school programs."
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