Makaton Training

Today, Jon and I started our formal Makaton training. We have completed part one, and the second part is next Tuesday. I loved it! I don’t want to sound like I am bragging, but I find it quite easy to pick up Makaton, as I do in general with languages. Some signs are a bit obscure, but a lot of them make sense. The challenge now is to remember these signs, sign appropriately and sign consistently to Asa. I do feel a bit under pressure as the main carer of Asa. Jon doesn’t find Makaton as natural as I do, so I’m trying to gently encourage him… (Ok, more like on the spot tests, poor man!!)

A few people have asked me why we’re signing with Asa. Some people assume it is because of his hearing loss. There are a few reasons, and I’d love to share these with you, as well as some background information.

Makaton is a sign, symbol and speech language programme to help children and adults with their communication. Using signs does not replace speech, but used alongside normal speech, in spoken word order (unlike  BSL (British Sign Language), which uses a different word order). Using signs can help children with no or limited speech or speech that is unclear. Symbols can also be used to support communication in many different ways. Symbols match to a sign, and can be used to help those with no or limited speech or who are unable or prefer not to sign.

With BSL, you sign every word in the sentence. With Makaton, you generally only sign the key words. So in a sentence like “Look at the ball”, you would say the whole sentence but just sign ‘look’ and ‘ball’. It’s very important to remember to speak all words out loud and not just silently sign.

Jon and I would love to be able to teach some friends and family some signs to use with Asa. Please ask us if you have any questions or want to know more. It is our hope that we can host an informal coffee morning at our church to show a few signs to friends there, particularly those that volunteer in the crèche or Sunday school.

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You can get free Makaton resources from the Makaton charity website. Friends and family, please click HEREto browse the selection (PDF files). These are usually seasonal, plus some nursery rhymes and booklets.

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The following information is from the Makaton charity website:

Being able to communicate is one of the most important skills we need in life.  Almost everything we do involves communication; everyday tasks such as learning at school, asking for food and drink, sorting out problems, making friends and having fun.  These all rely on our ability to communicate with each other.

Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people to communicate.  It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order.

With Makaton, children and adults can communicate straight away using signs and symbols.  Many people then drop the signs or symbols naturally at their own pace, as they develop speech.

For those who have experienced the frustration of being unable to communicate meaningfully or effectively, Makaton really can help.  Makaton takes away that frustration and enables individuals to connect with other people and the world around them.  This opens up all kinds of possibilities.

Makaton uses signs, symbols and speech to help people communicate.  Signs are used, with speech, in spoken word order.  This helps provide extra clues about what someone is saying.  Using signs can help people who have no speech or whose speech is unclear.  Using symbols can help people who have limited speech and those who cannot, or prefer not to sign.

Makaton is extremely flexible as it can be personalised to an individual’s needs and used at a level suitable for them.  It can be used to:

  • share thoughts, choices and emotions
  • label real objects, pictures, photos and places
  • take part in games and songs
  • listen to, read and tell stories
  • create recipes, menus and shopping lists
  • write letters and messages
  • help people find their way around public buildings

Today over 100,000 children and adults, use Makaton symbols and signs.  Most people start using Makaton as children then naturally stop using the signs and symbols as they no longer need them.  However, some people will need to use Makaton for their whole lives.

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