Makaton uses signs and symbols to help people communicate. It is designed to support the development of spoken language.
Makaton signs are based on the gestures used in BSL (British Sign Language – the language of the Deaf community). However, unlike BSL, Makaton signs are used in conjunction with speech at all times and in English grammatical word order.
With Makaton, children and adults can communicate using signs and symbols. Many people then drop the signs or symbols naturally at their own pace, as they develop speech. Makaton is extremely flexible as it can be personalised to the individual’s needs and used at a level that is suitable for them.
Who uses Makaton?
Today, over 100,000 children and adults use Makaton symbols and signs, either as their main method of communication, or as a way to support speech. Makaton is the UK’s leading language programme used by adults and children with learning or communication difficulties and by everyone who shares their lives.
Increasingly, Makaton is being used in an inclusive way with all children, not just for those with communication difficulties. Lots of parents of typically-developing children and settings such as nurseries, mainstream schools and Children’s Centres use it with their children too. It is beneficial for children with EAL (English as an additional language) as a way to help those children develop their spoken English skills.
Using signs can help children who are non-verbal (either because they have communication difficulties or because they are little babies/toddlers) by promoting their communication development. Many children’s understanding develops ahead of their spoken language. Signing can help little children express themselves during this time and prevent or alleviate their frustrations caused by their current inability to communicate.
Makaton can help children/young people & adults to:
- Communicate what they need, want, think or feel
- Make themselves understood by using signs / symbols
- Develop their attention, looking and listening skills
- Develop their understanding of speech and promote their communication development
- Develop their language & literacy skills
How to use Makaton
- Use the sign/symbol for the keyword (most important information-carrying word in the sentence. E.g. Would you something to eat?
- Remember to always speak at the same time as signing – the signs are there to support (augment) speech, not replace it
- Use clear, short sentences
- Make sure you use eye-contact, facial expression and body language to convey the meaning of your communication
- Use objects of references (props/toys/pictures/photos) to give additional visual cues
- You can do ‘hand-over-hand’ signing to help encourage your child to make the relevant gesture/sign
- Reward all attempts to communicate! Even if their sign is not quite right, encourage them and then model the correct sign yourself (as you would with speech). Their signing will improve with time & practice
- Have fun with signing! Sing, read stories and play games – make the learning experience as enjoyable as possible.
What does the Makaton Charity do?
The Makaton Charity is responsible for developing and sharing the Makaton Language Programme. They provide:
- Training for parents, carers and professionals
- Resources in a wide range of printed and electronic formats
- Online ‘Sign of the Week’ clips #wetalkmakaton
- Information to help others make information & resources accessible
- Support and advice to families and professionals
- Influence society by working in partnership with other organisations to empower people.
We are both licensed Regional Makaton Tutors and can provide Makaton Training in and around SW London. Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8288 1706 if you would like Makaton Training in this area.
If we are not available, then other members of our local Makaton tutor network might be able to help and we can put you in touch with them. If you are further afield, please contact the Makaton Charity for further information and to find dates and locations of training courses nearest to you.
The Makaton Charity
Tel: 01276 606760
Fax: 01276 36725
To join in with Makaton’s “Sign of the Week” #wetalkmakaton
Please visit www.wetalkmakaton.org
For more information on using Makaton signs & symbols software on iPads,
With the MyChoicePad app
Please visit http://www.mychoicepad.com/
Find out more about how to create your own materials using Widgit software with Makaton line drawings and symbols
Please visit www.widgit.com