Your stories

How Makaton is used in the community at home, at school, at work, and out and about.

Makaton with Lucinda, Founders Membership
11/11/2020

Makaton with Lucinda, Founders Membership

Nikki and Lucinda Hi, I'm Nikki! I have 3 children, and I use Makaton with my youngest, Lucinda. I am also training to be a Makaton Tutor! So I use the Makaton Hub as a parent, and now also as a trainee!

I am really enjoying my new Founders Membership on the Hub!  It is so useful to have all the signs and symbols just at my fingertips  and I love that I can log on from my phone when I am out and about if I need to quickly check a sign - so handy! It is good to have all the signs and symbols in one place too, without needing to look in different manuals etc. I am approaching Tutor training, so having everything all together in once place to revise from is really helpful.

As a member I have access to all the Core Vocabulary sign videos, lline drawings and symbols. I find the videos especially are so helpful for checking accuracy against. With the new Founders Membership I also now can explore many more signs and symbols in the new Living and Learning folder. Here are some of bits I have found interesting in there so far...

There is a section with useful signs in relation to school - ART, DRAMA etc. This would be helpful for schools themselves and for making timetables etc, but also useful for me at home to open up conversations about school with Lucinda.

There is a section with lots of geographical signs and symbols too, things like HILL, LAKE, BEACH, PUDDLE etc, which will be fab to learn ready for trips out, or talking about our local area etc. I am thinking about making Lucinda a photo album of our local area as she has been learning about this at school - so now I can add Makaton symbols to it and can teach her the signs too.

There is a folder called Tme and Seasons, and within this are some lovely signs & symbols for things like WINTER, SUNSET, SHADOW etc. Lucinda is fascinated by her shadow!

Lucinda and Zack have fun with symbolsI really like the folder with all the weather vocabulary in it, I am hoping to make Lucinda a weather chart using the symbols so she can change it each day when she looks out the window! Out comes the laminator!

Other useful vocabulary that I have spotted are words like DANGER, LOUD, NOISE, etc and I know these will all come in handy! I even found a sign and a symbol for YUK! Lucinda has a habit of refusing whatever I make for dinner, pushes it away saying "Eeeew!" then promptly pulls her plate back and gobbles up the lot! No need for the sign for YUK, however it is there should you want it!

The Hub gives you access to lots of other resources to download too, some recipes, fab games. Lucinda loves the board games, and I am going to download her some of the matching games next and I think she would like the animal bingo especially! We have also downloaded some of the books so we can add Makaton when we share books together at home.

There is a section on the Hub called MakaChat , a community space where you can ask any questions, share ideas etc. I haven't used this much yet myself but I am sure I will do as I move forward with my Makaton journey!

CHRISTMAS OFFER: Founders Membership £60 until 31st December 2020. This includes access to and download of the Core Vocabulary plus an additional 700 signs and symbols from the Living and Learning resource, absolutely FREE! (Makaton will honour the additional 700 signs and symbols year on year, for as long as you renew your membership.)

Author

Nikki H

11th November 2020

At home

Restart a Heart Day
05/11/2020

Restart a Heart Day

Kerry and Felix with Yorkshire Ambulance Service

Kerry and Felix with Yorkshire Ambulance ServiceYorkshire Ambulance Service started Restart a Heart Day (16th October) in 2014, with the aim of improving outcomes from cardiac arrest in the county by teaching people cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The campaign is delivered entirely by volunteers from the service and partners who give up their time to go in to school to teach.

Since 2014 the campaign has grown significantly, with all UK ambulance services agreeing to take part in 2016, along with the first international partnership with Ambulance Victoria in Australia. In 2018 the campaign gathered such momentum that it was adopted by the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) and became World Restart a Heart Day.

Nationally across the UK in 2019, nearly 300,000 people were taught CPR in one day.

Since its inception in Yorkshire in 2014, over 151,000 students have been taught CPR across the county. Yorkshire Ambulance Service has always tried to make the training as inclusive as possible by visiting pupil referral units and special educational needs schools, in addition to the mainstream schools.

CPR demonstrationThe coronavirus pandemic has made Yorkshire Ambulance Service re-evaluate the training delivery method which was previously all face-to-face. It allowed us to create some new resources that we had wanted to do for some time, including material that reached people with communication difficulties.

Fortunately, having worked with Liz Herrieven as part of the Restart a Heart campaign she was able to put me in touch with Amanda Glennon. After a discussion about the campaign, and how we could work together Amanda agreed to help us create some wonderful new Makaton resources. In the first instance some resuscitation key words were identified and Amanda set about creating some prompt cards of signs and symbols for these words (free to download from the Makaton Library). We were also put in contact with Kerry Cawley, a Makaton instructor local to our headquarters.

Kerry and her son Felix kindly worked with my colleague, Dave Jones, to instruct him how to use Makaton signing for a CPR training video. The result is great and I’m sure it will be a really useful resource for students with communication difficulties. I know that from conversations with Dave he thoroughly enjoyed learning Makaton and is now planning to build on that initial experience and take some lessons.


I would like to thank The Makaton Charity, Amanda and Kerry for helping to make CPR training more accessible. This is hopefully the start of a partnership with Yorkshire Ambulance Service to create some fantastic, accessible educational materials for a number of curriculum areas.
Author

Jason Carlyon

Senior Engagement Lead (Community)
Yorkshire Ambulance Service

5th November 2020

At work

Eleanor's story
02/11/2020

Eleanor's Story

Eleanor signs HelloOur daughter Eleanor was born in April 2018 and shortly after her birth she was diagnosed with Down's syndrome. I feel like our journey with Makaton started instantly from that point, but in fact she was probably 5 or 6 days old.

Eleanor spent the first few weeks of her life on the Special Care baby unit. A few weeks before she was born, there had been a video that went viral of lots of mums using Makaton with their children. We hadn’t known anything about it, but there was an incredibly kind neonatal nurse who suggested we Google it. All the children featured had DS and it was so heart-warming to see. My husband and I sat in hospital with tears in our eyes. From there we set ourselves the challenge of learning Makaton and that’s when I stumbled on the Makaton website, with so much information and tons of resources. I wanted to absorb as much as I could to help Eleanor have the best possible start.

In the beginning, I tried learning too many signs, all at once. I started a weekly class where we learnt around 10 signs a week. In reality, it wasn’t possible. Having not long given birth for the first time and how challenging that was in itself, coupled with the added shock of Eleanor’s diagnosis, the goal I’d set myself was too great. So, I took a step back and decided to stick to one sign at a time. That’s what I needed, from that point it was as if everything started to become a lot clearer, being able to break signing down into manageable chunks helped us a lot.

Eleanor and Helen We used the same theory when it came to Eleanor learning signs and tried to focus on one at a time, rather than overwhelming her.

We started with ‘thank you’ and it really didn’t take her long at all. When Eleanor was about 9 months old, she mastered ‘thank you’ in around 3 weeks. We continued for a couple of weeks with just that one sign and then moved on. From there, it started to become clear to us that she was able to take on more and more signs until we got to the point where she could learn a sign a day.

In the last few months, we have noticed a shift in the way Eleanor uses signing, she has gone from being able to sign around 50/70 different items from flash cards, to actively asking for them in everyday life. She will now tell us regularly when she needs the toilet or which food she wants - more often than not it is a banana, her favourite snack!

In the last few weeks, Eleanor’s Speech and Language Therapist has tasked us with putting two signs together, so that is something that we’re currently working towards.

Her speech is coming along really well too, and we have started to notice that just like her signing, she is now almost at the stage of learning a word or sound a day. One thing that having Eleanor has taught me, is that everyone learns in their own way and in their own time. Nobody should be pressured, and every individual will get there; it might just take you a little longer.

Author

Helen M

2nd November 2020

At home

DJ Jay spreads joy during lockdown
01/11/2020

DJ Jay spreads joy during lockdown

DJ JayWhen lockdown struck, Jake who is 17, felt it was important to provide a fun inclusive environment for young people with Learning Disability, Autism and /or Communication difficulties whose worlds had become restrictive due to self-isolating at home.

As Jake’s diary of event bookings was cancelled, he decided to use the time and technology to run events on Facebook live, making them open to more people. The events ran every Saturday and Sunday and incorporated music, fun, dance, and Makaton! They were enjoyed by many people and families who looked forward to joining each weekend, making song requests, adding comments to the stream, and feeling safe in an environment where they could be included.

This was impressive for a young man who left school less than a year ago, but Jake’s caring inclusion story starts before then. Jake has always shared an incredibly special bond with his cousin Alice from the first time they met. Whenever the two families would meet Jake would always be found at Alice’s side entertaining her, chatting to her, and helping her navigate her way through whatever was happening.

Alice who has a learning disability and uses Makaton to communicate needs that extra understanding to access everyday things you and I take for granted. On a family holiday several years ago Alice and Jake went along to the on-site entertainment where the host kept looking right through Alice as if she weren’t there. Alice did not understand why she was not being given the chance to go up on stage or win a prize and she got upset. Eventually Jake took matters into his own hands and gave the host a prize to take to Alice – Alice was delighted.

Jake, who was at this time already running his own local DJ business decided that he never wanted any children to feel like this at his events. He wanted everyone to feel included and so he completed formal Makaton training to support this.

Jake and AliceJake immediately saw the benefit Makaton would bring to other entertainers and so he helped design a special taster Workshop for Party Entertainers, where he gave a presentation on how Makaton had helped him become a better, more inclusive entertainer. It inspired them all!

Following this Jake received his Makaton Friendly status – the first DJ/Entertainer in the UK to do this. Jake and Alice were invited to attend Positive Choices - an annual conference for student nurses supporting people with learning disabilities. Jake ran workshops demonstrating how he uses Makaton, the message being if he can learn Makaton to support entertainment surely they too can learn Makaton to support people like Alice when in their care, when patients are at their most anxious and vulnerable. Together Alice and Jake have inspired many people. Last year Jake was nominated and selected as a BBC Teen Awards finalist, he was invited to Kensington Palace where he met The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Taking feedback from his early lockdown sessions Jake has now developed a series of online events for the whole family to attend. With support from NHS England Transforming Care funding a number of families have been able to sign up to a series on 4 sessions where DJ Jay is the host for activities, song, dance and Makaton, improving wellbeing and support to the whole family. Jake is an inspiration to those he meets and continues to rise to the challenges placed in the way of people like Alice, although to him he is not doing anything special he is just being Jake.

Author

Amanda Glennon

1st November 2020

Out and about

Makaton opens doors
16/09/2020

Makaton opens doors

Going on a bear hunt book and teddy

I'm Angharad and I'm a Dance Artist based in North Wales. I'm sure you are wondering what a dance artist does? Well, it is a really rewarding and wonderful job. I get to travel across the country, sometimes the world, sharing dance through performing, teaching and choreographing.

I often work within settings where I felt I was lacking in my communication skills with the children and adults I work with. So, during lockdown I seized the opportunity to further develop my skills and attended Makaton Level 1 and Level 2 training with Makaton Tutor Corrine Lloyd.

These last few weeks I have had the absolute pleasure to work at the Theatr Clwyd summer hubs in partnership with Flintshire social services. I’ve been facilitating with a group of wonderful children with varying needs and abilities. 

During our fun-filled days I've been able to put my Makaton training into practice. From the minute the children come into the room Makaton allows us to communicate and allows us to begin to form a relationship. As I begin to sign as I speak, I can see their faces light up as they recognise that I speak Makaton, and we begin to sow those seeds of trust between us. Makaton has allowed us a way to communicate and to establish a relationship built on understanding, something that has been invaluable during this time of relaxation of lockdown, as we are all emerging from months of being within our family bubbles. 

Being able to access the Makaton resources for We’re Going on a Bear Hunt has been fabulous. It is a favourite story of mine to use with children, we have great fun swaying through grass and lavender, splashing with material, and moving through a snowstorm of bubbles. To be able to integrate Makaton signs and symbols easily within the sessions has helped us to find our way together. The story is known to many of the children, which allows us to introduce new experiences of dance within the familiarity of the story, which in turn gives the children confidence to come with us on a movement adventure.

I am grateful to Makaton for opening the doors to effective communication and allowing us to have a great time together this summer, despite all the uncertainty about what the future holds. So much laughter and smiles have been had which have arisen out of the trust built through communication with Makaton.

Author

Angharad H

16th September 2020

At work

Baking with Alfie
08/09/2020

Baking with Alfie

Alfie with logoMy name is Alfie. I’m 6 years old and I just love baking. I am blessed with an extra chromosome. I was born 6 weeks early, I clearly couldn’t wait to get out into the world and start baking! I have a severe speech and language delay, but I find making baking videos really helps my speech, language and also my Maths as I can practise in a fun, no pressure environment.

Alfie rolling pastryCan you believe I actually used to be afraid of the noise the stand mixer made?! I know you wouldn’t believe it now, would you? Just goes to show you that in life you should always push yourself outside your comfort zones as you never know what you’re a capable of achieving until you do.

I’m now in Year 2 at my mainstream Infant school, having just returned back to my proper school after 6 months of Mummy school. I love swimming, water, books, music, dancing and generally just being outside. Food-wise I love all foods, but particularly chocolate, crisps, ice cream, blueberries & obviously cake! I love going on long walks and regularly walk 2 miles + each day. I hope you enjoy my baking and it inspires you to get your #BakeOn #BakingWithAlfie

Alfie and MummyThe mum behind the baker...

Hi, I'm Sarah, proud Mummy to Alfie, who has been blessed with an extra chromosome!

My Makaton journey started 6 years ago when Alfie was born. I first started with a Makaton Signing for Babies course at my local children’s centre and then graduated onto Dave Benson Phillips, Singing Hands (Tracy and Suzanne are absolute goddesses in our house!), and Mr Tumble.

I then decided I wanted to increase my Makaton knowledge, so I could help Alfie find his voice and gain his independence. So, I then did my Level 1 & 2 Makaton training, and I have recently just completed my Level 3 training. I now can’t wait to start my Level 4 training later this year, as I’ve decided I’d really like to progress to become a Makaton Tutor.

Alfie and birthday cakeDuring lockdown, I started #BakingWithAlfie across Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, where we use Makaton. Not only does it help Alfie with his speech development, but it also increases awareness of Makaton across a wider audience, in an underused setting. Alfie has a severe speech and language delay and we use his baking as a way to introduce SALT and Maths work in a non-pressured environment, and we also happen to get some tasty bakes out of it too! I'm hoping to set this up as a business moving forward - fingers crossed!

Please follow us via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Author

Sarah C

8th September 2020

At home

Totemigo and Harry
20/08/2020

Totemigo and Harry

Harry with his Totemigo

Harry with his Totemigo We started signing with our son Harry, who has Down's syndrome, from when he was about 9 months old. Seeing the difference Makaton made to him and how he was able to communicate with us before he could talk, made me want to continue the courses and become a Makaton Tutor.

Harry is now verbal, but we still use Makaton to aid his learning and to ensure that he has a way of communicating with others if they are finding his speech unclear and difficult to understand. Harry loves to use Makaton with singing and the school choir have started using Makaton, which is lovely to see how he can now be fully included in their performances.

The past few months have been quite challenging, having to home-school Harry and constantly think of new activities to hold his attention. Then Makaton launched the Totemigo, which I had been eager to use since I had been shown it on our Tutor Study Day back in November. I immediately joined the Totemigo website and started to make symbol strips. These are really easy to create, thanks to the template that is provided online and you can also download ones that other people have already made.

Harry has previously used colourful semantics in his speech and language therapy sessions, so I thought that this would be a good place to start with him. Due to the tactile nature of the Totemigo, Harry was instantly drawn to it and was desperate to try it out, even before he knew how to use it.

We have used the Totemigo to create sentences and Harry is now starting to recognize different word types such as nouns, verbs and adjectives. When using the Totemigo, Harry chooses the different symbols himself and then reads the sentence aloud. If he finds it doesn’t make sense, he then goes back to correct himself. He then signs the sentence and records it in his book.

He enjoys having the symbols in front of him to check he has remembered the sentence correctly. This has given him a far better understanding of how to construct sentences and can even now replace given words with synonyms, which he loves to do. Harry has loved using the Totemigo and we are planning to create mixed-up fairytale strips, so that he can make up some amusing stories containing a range of different characters and settings.

 
 

I can see that this is a really useful tool for schools and speech therapists. In fact, after speaking to Harry’s class teacher and 1:1 about the Totemigo, they are already planning to order some to help support many of the children’s learning needs. It is also extremely robust, so won’t get broken easily, as due to its bright colours and pleasing shape, every child will undoubtedly be desperate to use it. We look forward to using it more.

Totemigo is a multi-purpose tactile tool which uses Makaton symbols to help you communicate and learn in a variety of fun ways. You can use Totemigo for making choices, sentences, matching and much more.

Totemigo is available to purchase from our shop for £59.

Author

Jemma S

20th August 2020

At home

Going To Hospital Book
18/08/2020

Going To Hospital Book

Amanda Glennon and friends

Amanda Glennon and friends

Hi, my name is Angie Emrys-Jones and I am co-author of the Looking Up book series for Cornwall Down's Syndrome Support Group (CDSSG), of which my 13 year old son is a member.

We have been creating accessible books at CDSSG since 2014 when the very first book, ‘Looking Up’, was created for brand new parents coming to terms with the news that their little one is chromosomally enhanced. Our subsequent books followed the same pictorial style: ‘Tea at Grandmas’ for grandparents, an update of the original ‘Looking Up’ book, and also our most famous publication, ‘Going To School’, which inspired the very wonderful LD Nurse that is Jane Rees to approach me about creating something similar for the hospital setting.

The Learning Disability and Autism Liaison TeamJane Rees leads the Learning Disability and Autism Liaison Team at our local hospital and is passionate about making Hospital visits for patients with learning disability and autism less stressful for them and their families. Jane has been a practicing Learning Disability Nurse for over 26 years supporting and advocating for individuals with a LD or autism, making sure they receive equality of care.

After our initial chat, the lightbulb switched on and we both instantly knew that ‘Going To Hospital’ would be born and be a massive success for so many families across the country.

So, what is it?

Going To Hospital is an accessible publication for patients with learning disability or autism and aims to help children & young people with additional needs to know what they might expect to see when visiting hospital for an appointment or when being admitted for a procedure.

Front cover of Going to Hospital bookThis is done by filling the book with real life pictures of our children and young people in the hospital environment having blood test and scans etc and supporting the images with Makaton symbols throughout, with an index at the back of signs and symbols to promote communication during the clinical episode and beyond.

The book can be used to build communication and relationships between the child and health professionals, to help the child feel empowered and in control of their health decisions. Knowing the plan and what is going to happen to them at each stage has proven to enhance their experience and hopefully a more positive one with the use of this book.

In Cornwall, all patients in the county are eligible for a free hard copy from the Royal Cornwall Hospital LD Nursing team. But what if I don’t live in Cornwall? Don’t panic, the book is also be available in digital format hosted on the RCHT website and other outlets so that those with anxiety, autism etc no matter where they live will have an avenue to view the images from their device at home in preparation of a visit to hospital.

Download 'Going to Hospital' as a PDF file

Our good friend and Looking Up Books Makaton Collaborator Amanda Glennon from Inclusive Teaching Matters has produced a pdf download of all signs and symbols used in the book in the form of Healthcare Prompt Cards. These are free to download from the Makaton Library. It is intended that wards use the health cards in the download to provide now & next boards with a timeline of treatment – medicine / operation / sleep / wake up / eat / drink / toilet / home etc - thereby creating a visual timetable for patients who need more support to embed their understanding and manage expectations of procedures or admissions etc.

Healthcare Prompt CardsThe project has the support of Mencap as this runs in line with their national Treat Me Well campaign, the Downs Syndrome Research Foundation and also Paula McGowan’s high profile #OliversCampaign following the preventable death of her son Oliver in 2016 due to poor care and inappropriate treatment.

Oliver’s story, and others like his, are one of the main drivers for this project, we want to make sure the voices of our young people are heard in the clinical setting and that they are communicated with appropriately and are in control of their care as much as possible.

Jane and I are beyond thrilled at the feedback we have had from families and are so excited to work with other trusts to make the book transferable and more relevant to other hospitals.

Author

Angie Emrys-Jones

18th August 2020

Out and about

Condover College Ltd - Mr Blue Sky
16/06/2020

Condover College Ltd

SLT TeamCondover College Ltd is a small independent specialist college and residential care provider in the heart of Shropshire. Founded in 2004 by Steve McGill, a father who insisted the only very best care for his son, Matthew. Steve’s goal was to find a college that catered for his son’s disabilities and he struggled so he decided to start a college himself.

Today 16 years later, we continue Steve’s legacy of providing the best care and opportunities for learners aged 18+ who have moderate to severe learning disabilities, profound and multiple learning difficulties and additional complex needs.

Oli in the woodsWe provide Education, The Opportunities Programme, Care and Support including Accommodation and Short Breaks. Condover College has expanded and grows progressively every year, starting from just one residential home to now 13 residential homes nested in communities in and around Shrewsbury.

At CCL we use Makaton every day and we truly believe that it makes a huge difference to the lives of the people that we support. By making the world a more inclusive place, Makaton is helping everyone who lives with a communication difficulty to understand and be understood.

Emma hiking With this is mind, CCL wanted to fundraise for The Makaton Charity, to support them to be able to continue to provide the wonderful service that they offer. We had organised a Mini Makahike to take place at the beginning of May but this sadly could not take place due to the current COVID-19 situation. All was not lost… we decided to twist it up and collectively travel the equivalent distance of Snowdon as part of our daily exercise. And of course, no decent Mini Makahike is complete with a song so we all managed to practice the signs for ‘Mr Blue Sky’ and create a fun video compilation of our efforts.

Using platforms like FaceTime and Skype to communicate and teach the Makaton signs to learners and staff was a great method  to use in lockdown. Creating the video has lifted the spirits of everyone and put a smile on lots of faces! Our fundraising target was £100 and at the time of writing, we have reached £231. From everyone at CCL, we would like to thank everyone who has donated and to all staff and students who took part in the video.

Author

Condover College Ltd

16th June 2020

At school

Totemigo – bringing Makaton symbols to life
16/06/2020

Totemigo – bringing Makaton symbols to life!

Alice using Totemigo

As a parent and Makaton Tutor I have seen first hand the advantages that Makaton Symbols can bring as part of a multimodal approach for reading, writing , and developing memory skills.

I have found that they can sometimes printed card type resources can appear uninspiring to learners, and so when was asked to trial Totemigo by Makaton I was excited!

The totemigo is a robust, colourful ‘tool /toy’ which welcomes exploration and limited motor skills. The reels  attach together by internal magnets – it has a ‘rubic cube’ feel and I have found it kinaesthetic and undestructable (so far)!

Don’t be fooled by the colourful early years appearance – Totemigo uses are easily differeniated across ages and abilities and I see many uses across High School, Colleges and Adults to express feelings and choices. For example it could be used by people who have recently had a stroke and lost the ablilty to verbalise  to express their needs.

Each of the reels can be rotated vertically offering a choice of symbols and/or images and text. The vertical strips are produced online, printed, laminated and cut into strips to lead into one or more reels – depending how many you want to use. In the above pictures there are 4 and 3 reels used. The user can then build options by twisting the catridges and lining up the symbols up across the reels.

When you purchase your Totemigo you will receive the device itself (4 blank reels)  in a handy storage tube, an A4  folder to keep created activities in an activation code to enable your for your account on the Totemigo website.

Once you create your account you are able to view activities other people have shared and create and edit your own.

Using the online tool is relatively easy. When you choose to ‘+’ an image you will be able to switch on the Makaton tab and access all the Makaton Core Vocabulary symbols.

This is how it looks on screen. You can search by typing the start of the word and the symbols will be displayed to choose from. A click on the symbol adds it to your Vertical Strip.  Once you start creating an activity you can save, share and print , ready to laminate and load into your Totemigo. Previous activity strips can be stored in the folder for future use.

I have found many uses and thought I would share a few ideas here:

1. Simply Sentence building using only Core Vobabulary. You are able to colour the backgrounds, this means you can support a Colourful Semantics approach to the level your user needs

2. More personalised Sentences using pictures alongside the symbols by loading images

3. Symbol support for topic work like the 3 pigs, dear zoo by loading pictures and /or non core symbols.

Alice using Totemigo Whatever you are supporting as a Makaton Tutor I can recommend using the Totemigo, especically when talking about and illustrating the use of symbols – it really brings them to life.

My daughter Alice took the Totemigo into school to support some literacy work. Here is what her teacher said:

“Totemigo is an excellent tool which I found really helpful for children in a school setting. I used this at first for a sequencing activity within a communication activity. The pupils found it easy to use and the visuals created a great support and reference point. This would be a tool that I would use widely across my classroom for various activities and with a variety of children.”  Alicia Dooley – Dorin Park School

If you are interested in purchasing a Totemigo and have any questions please feel free to contact me . The after sales and technology support you will receive from Antonin and the team is also first class.

Highly recommended!

 

Totemigo is availble to purchase for £59 from the online shop.

Author

Amanda Glennon

16th June 2020

At work

Flamingo Chicks
16/06/2020

Flamingo Chicks

How Makaton helped us communicate our classes during Covid-19
New virtual classes 100,000 views and national TV coverage thanks to pioneering inclusivity online

Flamingo Chicks is an inclusive community bringing children together through dance. Early on in this pandemic we realised just how much of a challenge lockdown would be – as both CEO of Flamingo Chicks and mum to  a child with Cerebral Palsy – I too was having first-hand experience. 

We knew we had to find a way to continue supporting our families when our usual face-to-face classes weren’t possible.  Parents told us two big challenges were getting their children to exercise and also home-schooling.

Whilst there is an overwhelming amount of materials online, there is little that’s accessible for disabled children, particularly in terms of exercise.  And even less that is communicated in a way that they can access and understand.

Being out of routine and missing the familiarity of support from school and the raft of healthcare professionals is so unsettling - many families reported it felt like their world had been turned upside down. We wanted to recreate our content to provide that familiarity, a way for our children to express themselves and a moment of calm for parents/carers.

We partnered with science charity Lightyear Foundation to offer a unique blend of movement and science – supporting families both in terms of their child’s physical and mental wellbeing, but also keeping up their school work, with each session linked to the national curriculum.  And importantly, we recruited Makaton Tutor Nicola Pike from Better Communication Bristol as it was really important to us that our communication methods were accessible and also familiar to the children we work with, lots of whom we see regularly in special schools. Enter Makaton! Nic appears in all of our online classes, signing alongside our teachers. We know she’s a big hit with our viewers! Subtitles are also available on all of our videos.

Each week we release a new ‘virtual class’ with it's own theme, from Space to Le Corsaire (pirates) and Madame Butterfly to the Human Body.  Each has a STEM sub-theme and a spin-off science experiment from Dr Sarah Bearchall. Sarah is not only an experienced Science Presenter, she also specialises in working in SEN, and includes Makaton in her videos too.

As well as helping with home schooling, we know how much our children value story-telling and delving into their imaginations. We have produced a collection of children’s stories, written by our truly incredible volunteers, based around the theme of inclusion. Read by celebrities such as Ben Shephard, the extra sparkle is definitely the Makaton, again signed by Nic. The clear concepts that Nic signs really pull the stories together and enables everyone to engage with them.

Dance and movement provides a way for disabled children to not only develop their physical skills, such as balance and co-ordination, but to also express themselves in different ways, increasing their confidence, and enabling them to reach their full potential. Dance also develops key skills such as teamwork, communication skills, and problem solving whilst immersing children in a creative environment where they can feel free to be themselves.

Translating our inclusive and highly interactive classes into filmed sessions has certainly had it’s challenges. From green screens and lights in our living rooms, to matching up the Makaton with the class footage (ensuring the speech and signing are in unison) - all whilst working in isolation! However, our teachers found that Makaton was a really useful tool in keeping the content of the classes concise and clear. A key learning was to try and simplify the language of the sessions, to aid children's understanding. Knowing that the footage was being sent to Nic to sign really helped our teachers, as Nic would then pull out the key concepts, instructions and words from their speech to sign. This in turn helped the teachers realise the key message of their dialogue, and reduce their language as much as possible, to concentrate the content.

We are now on session 7 of our weekly virtual classes and the response has been phenomenal.  We’re up to 100,000 views across our platforms and we’ve been covered by a host of national TV programmes including Good Morning Britain, This Morning, Sky News and Channel 4.  We’ve had a sea of emails, messages and social posts from families as well as health, social care and education professionals saying how valued these new resources are.  We know they are being used in homes across the UK but also in settings like children’s hospices and hospitals and SEN schools looking after key workers’ and vulnerable children.  The thread through all the responses is the sense that disabled children and their families don’t feel alone – they feel connected again and part of something.

Feedback from families regularly includes the delight in Makaton being used so heavily, and some of the videos we’ve received show children excitedly pointing to Nic signing on the screen.  We hope that our classes will provide people with truly meaningful experiences that brighten their day and provide joy in the moment. We also hope they empower our young people - building confidence in their abilities and helping them learn new skills, whilst also celebrating who they are and creating a community of people that feel included, recognised and able to fulfil their potential.

 

Update: Flamingo Chicks have won the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

Author

Katie Sparkes

16th June 2020

Out and about

Totemigo Trial
16/06/2020

Totemigo Trial

About 18 months ago I received delivery of an education tool called Totemigo. I had been asked to trial it for The Makaton Charity and had no idea what to expect. As a newly retired learning support teacher in Further Education and SEN teacher in Special Schools, and as a Makaton Regional Tutor I was interested to see the latest way of combining communication learning and Makaton symbols.

I run a community Makaton club (Makachat) for Makaton users who live semi independently and thought I would ask them to trial Totemigo. When it arrived, I was surprised to see that it is an old school object, in several sections which clip together magnetically with a satisfying clunk. I wanted to handle it immediately, and so did members of my Makachat group when we met. To use it requires turning each section so that you see a row of symbols that make up the syntactically correct sentence, and you can use smaller or greater numbers of sections as you build competence. My three testers were able to bring different experience to the challenge.

Totemigo Colourful SemanticsYou can use Totemigo with a stimulus picture on the first section, or you can find your stimulus elsewhere in a real-life situation, video etc. I populated the Totemigo with topics we suggested by the group, with a stimulus of a film clip linked to the topics we had been developing in the group already; signs and symbols to do with socialising in the community. I populated the Totemigo with concepts we were working on, and assigned a part of speech to each section, following the Colourful Semantics themes, i.e.

•    Who (Subject) – Orange.
•    What doing (Verb) – Yellow.
•    What (Object) – Green.
•    Where – Blue.

Oliver, William and Christopher are key members of the group. What I loved about the trial was that each one of them subverted my carefully planned activity and made it their own. Oliver, looking at the photo I had screened as a sentence stimulus, wanted to find a concept I hadn’t managed to include, ‘pub’ (you can now add concepts outside the core vocabulary). Oliver grasped the potential of the Totemigo immediately. He silently scanned and turned the Totemigo sections, seemingly oblivious to prompts.  Only once he’d made his decision about his sentence did he look up and was then happy to speak and sign to explain it. He remained grumpy that not all the concepts he wanted were there and was keen for me to give feedback about that.

 

In contrast William took the Totemigo, and found it difficult to rotate the sections, so we took it apart and he looked at the pieces individually. He discarded one of the sections and worked hard for a while to put it together. What he came up with was, quite unexpectedly, a rule for his mum about not using your phone in the cinema! He had chosen the symbol of ‘woman’ for ‘mum’ and the format allowed us to compare those two concepts afterwards to remind him of the difference.

 

Finally, Christopher had a go. He was less intuitive about the meaning of the symbols and it was more challenging for him to manipulate the pieces, so I gave him the sections separately. He had watched the others and picked up the way in which the other two had clicked the sections together and was pleased with those satisfying clunks. He could see that there was meaning in each section and once completed was happy to have a go at reading it back, with some support. I could see that it held his attention, allowed him to identify what he knew already and would be a good way of introducing new concepts to put together.

All three of the testing group used speech when reading back and signed when they had their hands free. They all used more concepts in the sentences they had made, and so were able to communicate in a more sophisticated way. They all reached for the Totemigo immediately and were motivated to use it. Finally, it gave them the time to process, to assimilate the information available and to use it in a way that allowed them to initiate, in their own time.

Well done everyone!

Totemigo is availble to purchase for £59

Author

Helen Hayhoe

16th June 2020

At work

Joy Grimsby - Makaton for NHS Staff
16/06/2020

Joy Grimsby - Makaton for NHS Staff

My name is Joy, I am a Makaton Tutor and Higher Level Teaching Assistant in Castle Batch Primary School, which is part of The Priory Learning Trust in Weston-super-Mare.  I just cannot believe the incredible things are happening to me at the moment involving Makaton and the NHS during lockdown!

This journey started 35 years ago when I was 22 years old and driving double decked busses for a living. A little girl with Down syndrome called Donna got onto my bus and gestured something to me. Her mum, an old school friend, said “she’s signing to you she’s learning Makaton at her school”.  That was my first ever Makaton sign. Donna had signed ‘cake’ her mum had just bought a cake from the shop. From that day on I started to pick up the occasional signs from Donna, who was a regular on my bus, teaching me new signs whenever we met. By the late 90’s I had started a family and so changed my job to accommodate my new lifestyle. This job was driving mini-busses for the local council supplying home to school transport for an SEN school. This is the job that changed my life! Having daily contact with children who had a range of difficulties and abilities, children with Down’s syndrome, children with autism, children with physical disabilities and children with global delay all using Makaton in some way. I became passionate about helping in any way I could including supplying respite at a local children’s respite centre.

Moving forward I retrained and was fortunate to get a position in Castle Batch Primary supporting a boy with autism on a 1:1 basis, this led me into the Speech and Language at the same school where I upped my retraining  and became a Higher Level Teaching Assistant. In 2010 I started my official Makaton Training delivered by the Springboard Opportunity Group and with the support of Castle Batch and Springboard completed my Tutor training.

Present day in lockdown at home. My friend, who is The Clinical Director of nursing, has been very busy preparing and recruiting staff for the new Nightingale Hospital Bristol. However she was very concerned about the feedback from other Nightingale Hospitals saying they found it very difficult to communicate with each other whilst wearing PPE so asked me to provide her with a few Makaton signs to help, of course I said yes and jumped at the chance to help. The Nightingale team decided on the words they needed, I put the signs and symbols into a poster and recorded a little video of how to make the signs for them to share during their own training. Little did I know what impact this would have! These few signs have become a local news story, I have been on local radio and local news broadcasts talking about Makaton, the Press association has shown interest and I have received hundreds of acknowledgments on social media! I am doing a webinar about Makaton to the NHS (possibly an audience of 200) which may also lead to more staff being trained up to use Makaton throughout Hospitals and care homes throughout the country.

Author

Joy Grimsby

16th June 2020

At work

Mr Blue Sky - with Makaton
12/05/2020

Mr Blue Sky - with Makaton

Suzanne 'playing' an inflatable guitar

As with our fellow Makaton Tutors (and the Charity too), Boris Johnson's lockdown announcement threw us into turmoil with the abrupt closure of all events, schools and any training opportunities. The news of the Covid-19 pandemic was scary not just from a health perspective but also from a livelihood perspective - how could we possibly manage to get through a prolonged period with no opportunity to work?

Those first couple of weeks after the announcement had us all plunged into a rapid learning phase trying to find out whether we could ride out this pandemic by running classes via this previously unheard of platform called Zoom.

In amongst all this learning (with a bit of panicking and the odd sob here and there), we decided that the best way to pick ourselves up was going to be through music and through collaboration and supporting each other. And if that music includes ample opportunity for comedy air guitar, then even better!

One of the wonderful and positive things about social media - particularly during these strange times - has been the ability to connect with fellow Makaton Tutors and build a network of colleagues, outside of Singing Hands, who all share the same passion for communication.

With that in mind, we posted on the Facebook group for Makaton Tutors asking who'd be up for joining in with a Makaton lip-synced rendition of Mr Blue Sky It's a classic song that you cannot help but feel uplifted by once you hear it. Our hope was that it would bring some joy in amongst all the fear.

Luckily we had lots of tutors all across the UK who put their hands up and said YES! We then translated the song (with thanks to Nic Pike and Tracy Clark too) and divided up the lines and the musical interludes and this is the result. Over 50 tutors, many of whom have appeared with their children, bringing so much happiness to others during lockdown. If you haven't seen it already we hope you like it.

Thank you so much to everyone who was up for being involved, we couldn't have achieved it without you.

 

Author

Suzanne Miell-Ingram

12th May 2020

Out and about

Castlemilk Family Learning Centre
12/05/2020

Castlemilk Family Learning Centre

Joanne and Johan with Dave Benson Phillips

Joanne and Johan with Dave Benson PhillipsWe are on a wonderful Makaton journey which has led to us sharing our passion for Makaton within our local community. This journey began with our two wonderful staff members, Joanne and Johan, attending Makaton training and sharing their interest in further developing our children’s communication skills. They have led this journey; supporting our staff and families and sharing their enthusiasm.

We began using signs of the week, and staff quickly embraced signing and the enjoyment it brought to our establishment. We post our sign of the week and Makaton song of the month on our seesaw app and on our twitter page.

We have visuals and signs displayed all around our establishment as well as our sign of the week.

Families watch and learn the signs and join in together. The positive feedback we have gained from parents is huge. We observed in particular how beneficial signing with songs had on our children and the impact it had on all our children’s communication skills. The children started to spontaneously sign to one another, helping each other understand. We began sign along sessions with our parents, so the children could show how much they had learned and express the enjoyment it brings. Makaton strengthens the children’s communication, confidence and self-esteem.

Our sign along sessions have become a big family event. In September 2019 we received our Makaton Friendly award and quickly got to work on how we would like to celebrate. We invited Dave Benson Philips, and on the 12th December 2019 he spent the morning with us singing Christmas songs and watching all our fabulous children sign and sing. All of our families joined us in this event. Dave was amazing, energetic and expressed how much he enjoyed seeing all the signing the children were doing. Dave joined us for our Christmas family market, having some warm soup, and enjoyed chatting to staff and our families.
Pupils and staff with Dave Benson Phillips

The children are so proud of their achievements and love learning new signs and songs. Makaton is embedded within Castlemilk Family Learning Centre and we are very proud. We are now focusing on raising further awareness within our education sector and sharing our good practice.

We are delighted Makaton is being talked about and used in and around our community. This is because of all our staff children and families’ enthusiasm recognising the enjoyment and benefits signing have brought to our establishment.

As our Makaton Tutor Karen said, we are “riding a Makaton wave."

Author

Kelly Sloan

12th May 2020

At school

SWAN UK - Dottie's story
17/04/2020

SWAN UK - Dottie's story

Dottie

DottieWe've been using Makaton in our family for almost 9 years which is something I never expected all those years ago. When my eldest son Henry was born we did some baby signing classes, which I found very rewarding and really bonding between us as well. When Dottie was born we signed up to do them again as I’d enjoyed it so much the first time around. Dottie is now 8 years old and we didn’t realise then what lay ahead.

Dottie has an undiagnosed genetic condition and this presents itself largely with her having learning disabilities and epilepsy. At 18 months old, Dottie still hadn’t hit many of the typical milestones, such as walking or talking; she also had other medical and health issues which became apparent around this time.

This meant lots of hospital appointments, tests, procedures, planned and emergency hospital stays, and different therapies. These appointments and therapies are still continuing now.  We receive excellent care with everyone doing everything they can but we still don’t know what is causing Dottie’s challenges, and why she isn’t developing typically.

Marie and DottieThis has been extremely challenging over the years and I am grateful to be supported by an organisation called SWAN UK (this stands for syndromes without a name). They provide information and support to families with children and young adults with undiagnosed genetic conditions and these children are affectionately known as swans.

Dottie is largely non-verbal, although she has recently started saying some words and she has the sweetest voice, however Makaton is one of her main ways to communicate. I’m so grateful I knew about Makaton so early on and was able to easily incorporate it into our family life.

At one year old I started using 20 key signs with Dottie consistently for more than a year before she started to sign back, I am so glad I didn’t give up, it was just going to take Dottie longer to learn the signs than her brother.

At 3 years old Dottie’s first sign was duck, which she signed in hospital when she was very poorly: it was such a wonderful and reassuring moment after being extremely worried for the previous few days in hospital.  Drink, Eat, More and other animal signs came shortly after that.

Slowly but consistently Dottie was always making progress adding to her signing repertoire and at 5 years old knew around 300 signs.  It was at this point I attended a Makaton workshop (Levels 1 & 2), as I realised after being largely self-taught (with the help of Dottie’s SALT) I needed to learn more signs to help teach Dottie more.

The course was so valuable and really cemented my knowledge. Up until this point we weren’t using symbols very much, as I didn’t fully understand them, and the course was also very helpful for this. Both at school and home we now use a visual timetable and signs for now and next and choosing items, which Dottie responds really well too. I wish I had attended the workshop earlier and I now encourage friends who have just started using Makaton to go on the course as soon as they can.

We noticed from an early age that Dottie loved watching TV programmes with people signing, particularly Something Special with Mr Tumble.

Dottie with Singing HandsDottie also loves music and singing: she is a big fan of Singing Hands and really enjoys watching them. We noticed that Dottie was learning lots of new signs and picking them up quickly from Singing Hands and she would often sign songs to herself in her bedroom. Now she is able to say a few words, we hear her singing the tune, saying some of words and signing along, its so wonderful to see and hear. Music, together with signing and singing, definitely helps Dottie to learn and retain new signs, it also helps me do the same. We get so much joy watching Singing Hands together, we’ve also been able to see them live and they are such lovely ladies too. We can’t recommend them enough.

Dottie and family with Singing Hands

Dottie signing FishIn the last couple of weeks we have been using the Makaton resources more than ever as we are home during the pandemic and trying our best to continue Dottie’s learning. We found the Your Home resource pack easy to use, really useful and fun. Dottie particularly enjoyed picking a symbol out of the hat and finding it in the house, we’ve also learnt a few new signs through this and its been a fun game. Now Dottie’s signing repertoire is quite large we are working on putting 2 and 3 key word signs and symbols together as our next goal.

The whole family enjoy signing with Dottie. Mike, Dottie’s Dad, also self-taught or taught by me, is planning on attending a workshop and the new online courses will be very useful for him. Dottie’s brother Henry has also expressed an interest, his signing is very good, he often corrects me when I make a mistake and it's lovely watching them sign to each other.

24th April 2020 was SWAN UK’s annual awareness day, Undiagnosed Children’s Day, raising awareness and funds to support families with children with undiagnosed genetic conditions. Many families like ours already feel isolated and lonely and need SWAN UK’s support more than ever  during these difficult times. Within the swan community, our children with undiagnosed genetic conditions are affectionately known as swans and Dottie and I would like to show you the sign for swan and share the swan in 60 seconds challenge with you.

Author

Marie P

17th April 2020

At home

Richard and Lydia's story
30/03/2020

Richard & Lydia's story

Lydia and Richard

Lydia and RichardI have been learning Makaton for 5 months now. I started learning Makaton to help my daughter develop her communication.

Lydia (now two and a half years old) is moderately deaf and has worn hearing aids from 16 weeks old. Having been identified as having a speech delay we thought Makaton would be a useful way to support her with her communication.

I started learning Makaton at a local weekly class and my signing vocabulary built rapidly. The regular practices of the early stages, with the gradual introduction of new stages each week, has meant that I feel very confident with stage 1 and 2 vocabulary. The relaxed nature of the class  and the amazing group of people who attend, with ages differences spanning 60 years it has been an absolute pleasure to learn and I now go as much for the enjoyment as for the necessity!

Lydia signing cakeWe have seen real impact using Makaton with our daughter.

The first time she linked two words together was speaking and signing (Cake please), which really emphasised to us how beneficial it could be.

The toughest challenge we have faced is trying to build Makaton into our daily lives and routine, as forming new habits and breaking old ones is extremely difficult. We are gradually having success and are slowly building more words into our daily activities, mostly at the moment centred around food!

My other daughter, who also enjoys learning new signs has started using Makaton at dinner times too (though mainly to combat the talking with her mouth full conundrum, which admittedly was not our initial motivation for learning Makaton!

I would highly recommend learning Makaton, either for the sheer joy of it or to make a significant impact on someone’s life, and if you can do it as part of a group, even better!
Author

Richard K

30th March 2020

At home

Bobbi the Therapy Dog
30/03/2020

Bobbi the Therapy Dog

Bobbi

BobbiI had been considering getting a new dog for a little while after our lovely Labrador had passed away some years ago. However, I was having some trouble convincing my husband that a puppy would be a good idea!

In March 2018 I attended training on Selective Mutism, where we discussed the growing trend of using animals in therapy. I was travelling home from the course on the train with another Speech and Language Therapist, Rachel Hawley. We got talking to a woman who had her dog with her and she told us how she took her dog to work with her – she was a support worker for Adults with Learning Disability. The dog was adorable and there it was – my perfect way in to convince my husband!! A working dog; he couldn’t argue with that!

I immediately got researching breeds that would work well for therapy dogs and started thinking about training. In August 2018 we got our Cavapoo, Bobbi. I attended an Animal Assisted Therapy course which was invaluable. I knew I needed all the right training for Bobbi as well as being able to write risk assessments and having the right insurance.

Illustration of BobbiI decided really early on that it made sense for her to understand Makaton signs. I am a Makaton Tutor, many of my clients use Makaton signs and I knew puppies/ dogs respond well to hand signals so why not?

In the early days, it really helped with toilet training – we taught her the sign for toilet and she would trot outside when shown the manual sign. I believe it has helped with her developing her vocabulary too.

She is now nearly 2 years old and understands a range of signs, including Toilet, Food, Sit, Lie down, Carrot, Outside, Ball, Teddy, Stay/ wait, Stand, Come, and Give.

She is currently learning the sign for ‘reindeer’, as she loves to chew an antler, as well as the signs for colours – even though dogs having a limited spectrum of colours they can see, I’m convinced I can teach her using sound and colour switches – might have to rethink that one though.

Ami signs Sit to BobbiShe works with a range of clients from PMLD to high functioning Autism and Selective Mutism. For non-verbal children and adults, to be able to give instructions with Makaton signing and for the dog to respond is really empowering and motivating. For children and adults with anxiety, she is an added bonus. The use of signing and non-verbal communication as part of a shaping programme for children or young people with Selective Mutism has been invaluable. I’m sure I’ll keep finding ways she can assist children, young people and adults with speech and language therapy.

She has been a really powerful addition to the therapy we offer and would not be without her now.

Rachel Hawley, who was with me on that train back in 2018, has now got a puppy too, with a view to training her as a therapy dog. We best get teaching Tilly some signs too!

Author

Ami Coleman

30th March 2020

Out and about

Makaton at Derwen College
28/02/2020

Makaton at Derwen College

Derwen College Head of Speech and Language Therapy Julie Hawkins is a Senior Makaton Tutor and a firm believer in the power of Makaton. She explains why Derwen is a proud advocate of Makaton.

Julie Hawkins teaching Makaton to a class

Derwen College logoDerwen College is incredibly proud to be officially Makaton Friendly , offering students with special education needs and disabilities (SEND), and communication difficulties, a helping hand to communicate.

We believe it is vital that students are understood, and that they should be given every opportunity to communicate their feelings and needs. Makaton signs and symbols support communication and increase understanding between students, and between students and staff, helping to extinguish some of the frustrations that students feel at not being understood. Makaton also allows staff to better explain what is expected of students in their work area, residence or free time, and to recognise and communicate quickly when there is an issue.

As a College, we are proud to be able to offer Makaton expertise. I am a Senior Makaton Tutor, and also have a team of two trained Regional Makaton Tutors and six Local Makaton Tutors.

The college was delighted to host The Makaton Charity’s Study Day on 21st February, with 37 people. It was an opportunity to showcase our work with Makaton and demonstrate the vocational learning, work skills and independent living skills that our students learn.

Derwen Premier Inn appDerwen College is particularly pleased to showcase its ground-breaking ‘Support Work’ apps. The apps, which can be used on a tablet or a mobile phone, support students to access work, using Makaton options to prompt students. The apps, which have been developed with backing from The Makaton Charity, include a CV Builder App, Working in a Premier Inn app, and Working in a Café app. We believe that these apps are the first of their kind to help students with SEND in accessing work.

Using images, video, words or Makaton sign options, students can be guided step-by-step towards creating a CV; Hospitality students working in the college’s training hotel or at an off-site work placement are prompted gradually through ‘routes’ on how to make up a Premier Inn guest bedroom.

Derwen Working in a Café appHaving our own on-site Makaton Tutors means that all staff have access to a mandatory Makaton Taster and the new Level 1 and Level 2 training. Makaton symbols and signs are used in reception, food outlets and garden shop. Symbols are used as signage, on posters, college leaflets, student timetables and on the college website. Makaton can be embedded throughout learning and independence skills, not only for students with specified communication or SALT needs.

As well as facilitating the use of Makaton across college, Derwen is keen to spread the word locally, regionally and nationally. As a Senior Tutor, I am asked to train new Makaton Tutors for The Makaton Charity. At Derwen College, we are able to teach Makaton to groups in the community or to invite groups to come to us for workshops..The college runs courses on or off site, and has visited schools, groups and businesses. The college has hosted and led Makaton Taster sessions which have included teaching horse-related signs at a Riding Centre and festive signing for potential Santa’s Grotto employees.

The college also raises awareness of Makaton with our fabulous sign and dance group DOT (Derwen on Tour) who have performed at events including the National Eisteddfod, Christmas light switch-ons, and a Premier Inn national conference, bringing Makaton to as wide and diverse an audience as possible.

We look forward to welcoming Makaton delegates to the college this month, and to continuing to support The Makaton Charity in creating a more inclusive environment for learning, work and communication.

Author

Julie Hawkins

28th February 2020

At school

Friendly Fish & Chips
27/02/2020

Friendly Fish & Chips

Richard & Josette Foster with their Makaton Friendly certificate

Richard & Josette Foster with their Makaton Friendly certificateFish and Chips @ Weston Grove is the first Makaton Friendly fish and chip shop.

They first heard about Makaton when they were approached by Amanda Glennon to become Makaton Friendly. Amanda runs the training and her daughter Alice is a Makaton user. The owners Josette and Richard Foster were very excited about this and jumped at the opportunity. They had seen Makaton used by Mr Tumble on Cbeebies TV, on Strictly Come Dancing and on the Pride of Britain Awards.

The Weston Grove team attended a free Makaton workshop in September 2019. This valuable training gave them the skills and confidence to use Makaton in the shop.
Each member of staff who is trained wears a Makaton lanyard which is easily recognisable to users. Attached to this is a variety of generic and Fish and Chip shop specific picture cards. These cards are used along side hand signs, speech and facial gestures to communicate to customers.

Josette said, “It is really fantastic to see our customers being given the opportunity to order their fish and chips independently and confidently in a caring environment. We all get very excited!”

Some members of staff are now taking the training further to become Makaton Champions. The shop now provides further resources such as books and signs that are Makaton Friendly.

Richard said, “ We now have a growing number of Makaton users who find our shop through the Makaton Friendly search on the Makaton website."

Fish and Chips @ Weston Grove is an award winning Fish and Chip Shop and came third in the National Fish and Chip shop awards this year. The couple lead by example and now urge other fish and chip shops in the uk to get involved.

Published

27th February 2020

Out and about

Isabella's Makaton journey
30/01/2020

Isabella's Makaton journey

Lucus and isabella

Lucus and IsabellaI came across Makaton when my little brother Lucus was born with Down's syndrome.

I sat in on a course with my Mum and Dad, we then realised not only was it going to be a massive help to Lucus but it was going to be really useful for my other brother, Alexander, age 2, who had just been diagnosed with cerebral palsy after a stroke in my Mum's womb.

I continued just picking up key words and concentrated on using them with Lucus. Then at age 11, after watching Wayne Barrow sign to songs, I decided that I wanted to be able to do the same for Lucus.

My mum shared a video of me and it had over 30k views in a matter of days and it made me realise that other people were interested too. That's when Isabella Signs was created across all social media platforms.

Fast forward now 3 years, I have well over 120k followers across my socials, including followers from around the world. And now my brother Alexander is completely verbal, and Lucus is well on his way.

He no longer gets frustrated as we now all have a way to communicate with him thanks to Makaton.

On our Makaton journey, Lucus and I have found ourselves in lots of unique situations whilst raising awareness.

Last week we were on The One Show where they surprised me and Lucus with my all-time favourite singer, Louis Tomlinson from One Direction, which was a dream come true!

They also surprised me with the legendary Dave Benson-Phillips and Zanna from The Makaton Charity. Louis asked me to introduce his first ever live performance of his new song in Makaton.

I feel very blessed to be supported through my whole journey by The Makaton Charity. I have purchased several of their resources including the Core Vocabulary USB stick, which has been invaluable to me and my family. We also love that they regularly post free print out resources .

My daily sign vlogs have even helped my younger sister Indiana (6) with her confidence: she was very shy but after filming in some of my videos she's now no longer shy. She has also gotten great at signing!

Author

Isabella E

30th January 2020

 

At home