We've used Makaton with Dorothy since she was very little, literally a few weeks old.
We started just using basic everyday signs for milk, mummy, daddy,
hello and bye bye, we weren't particularly strict about it but tried to
remember to use them as much as possible. I remember her being quite
young and making her first attempt at the sign for milk and looking
delighted when a bottle was produced.
Her signing at the start was few and far between, but it made me
determined to carry on as she was clearly understanding my
When she was a few months old, our local charity was running a
Makaton Beginners’ Workshop (modules 1-4) and I was interested in
expanding my signing beyond the few that I had picked up from Mr Tumble,
so I signed up.
The course was great and gave me the confidence to really go for it
and start signing with Dotty - the whole family got involved too. This
was something that I really pushed and encouraged as it was important to
me that Dot had more than just me who she could communicate with.
Her first official sign, and one she still uses regularly today, was
dog. She was playing with our pooch (Winston) and he moved away, she
signed dog indicating she wanted him to come back and play again.
It was amazing, proper meaningful communication, done unprompted.
She used it daily after that and quickly added more to her
repertoire. She is now aged 2 (27 months) and has over 100 signs,
including lots of animals, and is putting them together with speech to
make short sentences.
Learning Makaton has not stopped or hindered her speech development
at all. We've always used Makaton alongside speech, and she has copied
that behaviour. Her speech is really coming through now with lots of
words, plus it's really helped her understanding.
It's also stopped her getting frustrated by giving her a means to communicate while her speech is developing.
I feel Dotty has flourished using Makaton by giving her greater
independence and autonomy to communicate her wishes effectively. For the
family and I, Makaton has given us a way to enhance our relationships
with Dotty – finding common ground to not only communicate on a
practical level, but also to play, have fun and love our time together.