Your stories

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

Taylor’s Terrific New Resource!
18/04/2024

Taylor's Terrific New Resource!

Taylor sitting downWe are thrilled to share an exciting addition to the Makaton Library, all thanks to Taylor, a passionate Makaton User. 

Taylor approached us with a brilliant idea: creating Wheelchair Access Posters featuring Makaton symbols. Now, we are delighted to share that these essential resources are readily available for everyone to access!

Taylor told us: “I was exploring the Makaton website and I realised there weren’t many resources for wheelchair users, so I decided to create some. 

I had an idea and the charity’s Resource Team made them a reality. 

I have personal experience of needing space for my wheelchair which I use all of the time. Sometimes if there is no clear parking sign to say that the space needs to be big enough, I haven't been able to get out of my car because others have parked too close. I am excited this resource will help people to think more about the amount of space they leave. 

I designed these posters to raise awareness in the Makaton community of the needs of wheelchair users.”
 
Thank you Taylor for working with us to create this fantastic resource! 

You can find the four versions of Taylor’s Wheelchair Access poster on the Makaton Library by searching for ‘Wheelchair Access”. 

  • Please remember to leave space for electric wheelchair access
  • Please remember to leave 2 metres for electric wheelchair access
  • Please remember to leave space for manual wheelchair access
  • Please remember to leave 2 metres for manual wheelchair access

 

wheelchair access poster

Author

Taylor

18 April 2024

 

Out and about

Empowering communication in Early Years
19/01/2024

Empowering communication in Early Years

Noticeboard with Makaton signs

Noticeboard with Makaton signsJayde Conway is a newly qualified Makaton Tutor and Early Years SENCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) at The Sunflower Children’s Centre in Tameside. Here, she shares her journey to becoming a Makaton Tutor and the positive impact Makaton is making in her Early Years setting.

In the vibrant world of early childhood education, effective communication is the cornerstone of fostering meaningful connections with young learners. As an enthusiastic advocate for inclusive teaching practices, I embarked on a transformative journey to become a Makaton tutor. This decision was fuelled by the desire to create an environment where every child, regardless of their communication abilities, feels heard and understood.

Children entering a nursery setting come along with a diverse range of communication abilities. Some may be confident communicators, while others may face challenges in expressing themselves. Recognising this diversity, I decided to explore Makaton, a unique and inclusive communication tool.

My journey as a Makaton Tutor began with a comprehensive training programme that covered the fundamentals of the Makaton communication programme. From basic signs and symbols to constructing sentences, my Tutor training provided a thorough understanding of how Makaton can be integrated into everyday life. One of the highlights of the training was the emphasis on practical application. Through hands-on activities and scenarios, I gained confidence in incorporating Makaton seamlessly into nursery routines, learning, and play.

The primary benefit of integrating Makaton into the nursery setting is the enhanced communication between educators and children. For those who may struggle with verbal communication, Makaton provides a visual and tactile means to express their thoughts, needs, and feelings. Makaton fosters inclusivity by breaking down communication barriers. It creates a shared understanding that unites children of diverse communication abilities, promoting a sense of belonging among the nursery community.

Beyond communication, Makaton supports the development of essential skills such as fine motor skills, cognitive abilities, and social interaction. Engaging with signs and symbols stimulates various areas of a child's brain, contributing to their overall development.

Picture of JaydeAs we continue to implement Makaton across our early years setting, I am seeing a positive ripple effect as staff and children develop their communication skills and engagement with Makaton. We have introduced a 'Sign of the Week' board, which has been a great way to support staff and children in learning a brand new sign every single week. Children are more engaged, confident, and expressive in their communication. The nursery environment is a space where every child's unique voice is valued and heard.

Becoming a Makaton Tutor not only enriches my teaching practice but also contributes to the development of an inclusive and empowering nursery environment. By embracing the power of Makaton as a team, we are helping children overcome communication barriers and laying the foundation for a future where every child has the tools they need to thrive. In the colourful world of early childhood education, Makaton is a beacon of inclusivity, ensuring that no voice goes unheard, and I am both excited and proud to finally become part of the Makaton family.

Author

Jayde Conway

19th January 2024

At school

Volunteer playworker
07/12/2023

Volunteer playworker

Portrait photo of Abigail

Portrait photo of AbigailMy name is Abigail, and my story was featured on The Makaton Charity website back on 10th May 2022. I thought I would give an update for your website to show you where I am: a proud volunteer playworker working for the incredible Darlington Association on Disability (D.A.D).

We work with children and young people aged 3 to 25 with complex needs to other special needs, especially young people and children with communication and speech impairments.

We work very closely with Makaton; we are all training and learning at the same time, and we understand a lot of children's and young people's needs. As a volunteer playworker, this brings my Makaton skills to the test, and it has come in handy when you're at work, loving every minute of being a Volunteer Playworker.

A young woman chopping a tomatoAlso, we do various schemes through D.A.D, and we also love to learn and practice our Makaton skills.

I can't wait to see what the future brings for all at Darlington Association on Disability.

Thank you so much for sharing my volunteer playworker story on your website. Maybe a part three in the future. Thank you so much for listening to my story.

Love, Volunteer Playworker Abigail xxx

 

Read Abigail's first blog: Makaton is for everyone

Author
Abigail
7th December 2023

At work

Olaf Learns Makaton
20/11/2023

Olaf Learns Makaton

Team Olaf to the Rescue front cover

Olaf is a three-year-old fox red Labrador therapist and a published author. He was invited to speak at the Cheltenham Literature Festival 2023. Olaf is a family pet registered with the Pets As Therapy (PAT) Charity. His job is to make people smile when, with his human mum (a specialist teacher and mindfulness coach), he visits hospitals and schools.

Every Thursday morning, Olaf goes to Battledown Special School. He enjoys his visits so much that he set his second book there! Team Olaf to the Rescue is a heartwarming story about his classroom adventures (it very cleverly rhymes!). With help from his merry band of canine mates, Olaf saves the school’s Christmas celebrations and gives the children a party they will never forget. All the dogs in Team Olaf are Olaf's real friends whom he sees every day on his walks. They all play a vital role in the story, showing kindness, creativity, and bravery. Fun activities are added to stimulate the reader's imagination and memory.

Olaf in book shop Battledown School uses Makaton as part of their teaching and learning, so we included their symbols in the book to enable more of Olaf’s human friends to enjoy it. We were delighted Makaton wanted to be involved in our project and are grateful to the Team for their expertise and patience. They provided symbols for the concepts/story words and explained where to place them on the page, so that the story makes sense to the Makaton reader.

Olaf's first book, Mr. Olaf the Therapist, is a mindfulness scrapbook, diarying his experiences in a mainstream school and his work in the NHS. As a PAT dog, Olaf visits Cheltenham General Hospital where he is a valued member of the Knightsbridge (Gastric) and Critical Care Teams. He has been doing this for over two years but is still banned from the staff rooms because of the doughnuts... It is a privilege and humbling to be welcomed so warmly by patients, their families, and Olaf’s NHS colleagues. Olaf also shares his lifestyle wisdom with self-care activities and mindfulness questions to help us reflect on our own work/life balance.

Olaf gives all the proceeds from his books to the Pets as Therapy charity. He attends promotional PAT events e.g., Crufts and Goodwuff.

For more information about PAT and/or to buy Olaf’s books, please visit Pets as Therapy.

Rachel and Olaf Flower

Author

Rachel and Olaf Flower

20th November 2023

 

Out and about

Ava's Communication Journey
17/11/2023

Ava's Communication Journey

Ava with her mum and dad

Ava, with her Mother and FatherOur daughter Ava was born with left sided CDH (Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia) which was undiagnosed until birth. She had this repaired at just 4 days old and spent her first 5 weeks of life in neonatal intensive care and subsequently has a delay in her development, resulting in Ava reaching her milestones much later. Talking is one of those milestones she hasn’t quite reached yet at 4 years old.

Ava’s understanding of what we were saying to her was always there but as she couldn’t say what she wanted to back to us, it was so disheartening as she’s such a happy, smiley little girl, who is cheeky and full of life.

Before starting nursery, Ava would make sounds but would often become very frustrated, very quickly at not being able to communicate successfully with us. Her frustration would mean she would grab and pull us to get our attention or for something she wanted. She would also pinch and push other children on play dates, which was really hard to deal with. It often made me feel very anxious at the thought of having to constantly watch her and be ready to pull her away if she got too ‘handsy’. At times, it felt easier just to say we couldn’t make a play date, just to avoid being in what I felt was an uncomfortable situation.

When Ava started going to nursery in the months before turning 3, she had the 1:1 support from Sarah who is also a Makaton tutor. Sarah would explain the use of Makaton to us but initially we felt that Ava may not be ready to learn and follow a new skill like that, as her attention span was so minimal and she would never hold her attention to any one thing, for more than a matter of seconds. We also thought that it would somehow stop her from speaking.

Ava using Makaton symbols

We noticed as Ava spent more time with Sarah in nursery setting that she would start to use hand gestures at home or physically move us to what she wanted to do or to get something that she needed.

When we would pick Ava up from nursery, Sarah would say what sign(s) they’d been learning that day and we would see that Ava would then start repeating those signs at home. The first signs Ava made were amazing and it felt quite emotional because Ava had a huge beaming smile on her face and you could see her happy, that at last, she could sign something that we understood. She could finally communicate effectively with me and her dad and the more she did, the calmer she seemed to become. It was at this point we felt that it was time we looked at completing Makaton level 1 to gather a better understanding and to be able to use it properly to make a difference to Ava’s communication.

We talked about Makaton with our family and we had a positive reaction, although the grandparents were more apprehensive about trying to learn a new skill and retaining the information. They were also nervous about having to practice the signs in a group setting (even though we are all family and know each other!) and feeling embarrassed if they couldn’t do the sign properly. But the main thing was all the family wanted to come together and do it for Ava as everyone could see it’s the one thing that seemed to be working for her communication.

Ava reading a book

We did level 1 Makaton over two sessions which worked really well. Once we got into the sessions, everyone settled in and felt so comfortable with Sarah’s teaching, we had a laugh whilst learning and everyone felt happy they’d given it a go and actually learnt some!

Since completing level 1 and incorporating Makaton into our daily lives, Ava’s so happy and the frustration has disappeared!

Now, Ava can sign what she needs; food she wants to eat, whether she needs a drink, what she’d like to watch on tv, what she wants to play with, where she wants to go; the list seems endless now, whereas before we’d struggle to know any of that. She can go and play at grandparents and they understand what she wants now, they also have grown with confidence in using Makaton and have even carried on watching extra Makaton videos to help.

Ava has settled very well into nursery and is thriving. Nursery and the early years staff at the setting have also completed Makaton level 1 and 2, which has been amazing. Ava uses Makaton naturally and is saying the words alongside signing, with many more new words coming, whilst developing new sounds. She tries so hard to repeat a word you say to her and her confidence in talking is growing so much, she is very vocal and jabbers away in her own language a lot now, practicing sounds! It’s so lovely to hear and we’re so happy for her that she finally feels understood. We also feel very proud of her for all the progress she’s made. The future for her communicating doesn’t seem quite so daunting, we’re excited!

Written by Natalie –
Mum of the gorgeous Ava 😊

Author

Natalie

17th November 2023

At home

Makaton in Adult Care
24/08/2023

Makaton in Adult Care

Amy signing at laptop“I wanted to give the adults we support the voice they had lost”

Amy is a Learning Partner at Alternative Futures Group (AFG), one of the largest not-for-profit Health and Social Care charities in the North West. AFG provides person-centred support to people with a range of learning disabilities and mental health conditions.

“Makaton first came on my radar in my previous role at AFG as a Support Worker, when I was told one of the people I supported used it to communicate. I familiarised myself by looking through their support plan and Makaton communication books, but without formal training I had no idea if I was getting it right or not.

I found it really difficult to not be able to communicate with the person I was there to support in the way that they needed.

I later moved into a new role in the Learning and Development team at AFG, where I am responsible for delivering training to our Support Workers and other operational colleagues.

I was still interested in Makaton, so I signed up to a taster session in Chester. I was so inspired by the session that I knew I wanted to become a Tutor myself and bring these skills to my role at AFG. I immediately booked onto my Level 1 and 2 courses, which I completed while also working full time.

What struck me most during these courses was that I was often the only person there from an adult focused background. I knew from my experience how difficult it could be for young people who had learnt to use Makaton as their main method of communication, to then come into an adult care setting where they were not understood and effectively had no voice. I wanted to give the adults we support the voice they had lost - it is a basic need.

I completed my level three Makaton training whist 37 weeks pregnant and my level four with an 8-week-old baby! I was determined.

AFG have been incredibly supportive and allowed me to study for my exams during work time. As an organisation, AFG recognise the positive impact of having support staff upskilled in areas such as Makaton.

I officially qualified as a Tutor in July 2023, and I loved absolutely every second of it.

I am proud to be the charity’s first licensed Makaton Tutor and I am now planning to introduce a ‘Communication Club’ to share learning, resources, and ideas on how to implement Makaton with colleagues who support people who use the language, or have specific communication needs.

I would ultimately love to help AFG to achieve Makaton Friendly status so that we can use it to enhance more people’s lives.”

Click here to find Makaton Training 

 
Author
Amy
23rd August 2023

At work

Ella’s Makaton Journey
03/07/2023

Ella’s Makaton Journey

Ella signing 'Love'Ella is currently completing her fourth year of Norland training as a Newly Qualified Nanny in North Somerset near Bristol before she earns her professional Norland Nanny status.

My Makaton journey began in 2016, when I worked as a buddy through North Somerset Council providing care for children and young people with additional needs aged 4-16– many of whom used Makaton to communicate. It was then that I was able to witness how truly special Makaton is. Children in my care were able to express themselves independently, which meant that their frustration was eased, and preferences could be communicated. This was such an incredible moment to witness and I knew, there and then, that it was something I wanted to understand and become involved in.

Throughout my Norland training, I continued to develop my newfound passion by completing a Level 1 Makaton course, which I loved!

As a way of utilising the signs I had learnt on my Level 1 course, I began to sign songs and stories to aid my development. I also used Makaton whilst I nannied. It was so lovely to see that the early exposure to signing, in conjunction with speech, led the little people in my care to develop enhanced verbal skills, something I felt honoured to help with! As my confidence grew, I wanted to share this passion. I taught and signed a poem to students from my cohort (known as a set) at Norland, and together we performed to University of Seitoku students who were visiting Norland on a study trip from Japan.

Makaton quickly became one of the most enjoyable and rewarding skills that I have learnt. I started an Instagram account called @nannyellalynne, as a platform where I could share my love of Makaton and connect with others who felt this way.

When the Covid 19 pandemic hit, I produced daily sign videos showing what I had learnt, hoping to inspire others and revise my knowledge.

Knowing and using Makaton has impacted my daily life hugely. I feel proud that, by continuing my development, I have been able to create an open line of communication between myself and all groups of people who I encounter in my life. This is something I feel incredibly proud of.

In my line of work as a nanny, I can now use Makaton with the little people in my care to support them to develop their communication, language, and literacy skills. Signing while speaking has been shown to encourage the development of communication and language skills and, as a caregiver, gives me a greater understanding of the wants and needs of the babies and children in my care, which can help to reduce frustration.

Most recently, I have completed my Level 2 Makaton training, which I have really enjoyed. I cannot wait to complete Levels 3 and 4.

Makaton sign communication is so beautiful and creative and should be recognized for its true potential. For many people signing is their superpower and I, for one, hope more people will engage with this beautiful language and learn a new mode of communication.

Let’s continue to change the world one sign at a time!

Would you like to start or continue your Makaton journey? Click here to find training 

Author

Ella K

3rd July 2023

At work

Dunholme Pre-School
03/07/2023

Dunholme Pre-School

Makaton Friendly CertificateAs the school year draws to a close, let's explore the inspiring story of Dunholme Pre-School, a mainstream primary school in Lincolnshire. 

Their Makaton journey began with a single student, suggested to engage with Makaton to support speech development. The staff's open-minded adoption of Makaton and the ensuing positive change not only transformed their teaching approach but also strengthened their commitment to inclusive education.

In the early stages the staff and students began experimenting with Makaton, and they were instantly able to identify its vast benefits. The positive effects on communication and comprehension led to a unanimous decision: Makaton training for all. Embracing this challenge, the staff has since then incorporated Makaton in their everyday interactions, skillfully utilising signs and symbols within the educational environment.

The Makaton 'Sign of the Week'

This is a particularly popular initiative among the students. Each week, different classes or pupil groups showcase the selected sign, increasing awareness and promoting regular use. Involving students in such participative learning methods has helped cement Makaton as an essential communication tool within the school.

"Makaton is more welcoming to non-verbal children as some of the signs are quite self-explanatory and it makes them feel able to communicate, if they can’t or do not wish to speak" - Gayle Smith, Manager of Dunholme Pre-school

This summer, we celebrate the determination and success of schools like Dunholme Pre-School, who lead by example, making education accessible and engaging for every child.

Click here to find out more about how to become Makaton Friendly 

Author

Dunholme Pre-School

3rd July 2023

At school

Rui’s Makaton Story
21/04/2023

Rui’s Makaton Story

Kaley, Rui, and Nick

KaleyIn honour of Neurodiversity celebration week, I wanted to share with you why this following quote from Ignacio Estrada really resonates with me:

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”

When my son, Rui, was one years old, he was diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay (GDD). GDD is an early onset chronic neurological condition. It’s an umbrella term used when children are significantly delayed in multiple areas of development such as motor skills, speech, cognitive and social and emotional development.

Rui was delayed, and still is in some areas, reaching his developmental milestones. He crawled at 22 months, walked at 26 months, and was able to jump recently at the age of four, but is still preverbal, not having spoken a single word yet or consistently made any symbolic sounds.

When Rui was two, my husband, Nick, and I had some advice to try using Makaton. Makaton is a communication tool which uses signs and symbols that supports the development of essential communication skills such as attention and listening, comprehension, memory, recall and organisation of language and expression. When using Makaton, you always speak while you sign or use symbols to make the link between the sign/symbol and the spoken word.

Putting myself in Rui’s shoes; every day he can’t say how he is feeling, tell me if he’s hungry, if he’s in pain, or if he wants to play. I could also see that other children didn’t want to play with him at times. What did they get out of playing with Rui who didn’t understand their games or was not able to speak back to them. It would break my heart and as his Mom I needed to try everything I could to get him heard, be understood, and feel included. I’d already picked some Makaton up from the CBeebies TV programme ‘Something Special’ and enjoyed learning it from that, but now I had a real reason to implement it at home. We hoped it would hopefully reduce Rui’s frustrations and regular meltdowns while we wait for the speech to come.

Learning Makaton

Kaley, Ryi, and NickTo start with, learning Makaton was a daunting task. I put a lot of pressure on us as parents to get it right. I wanted to learn all the signs in a short space of time, but Rui was so little and unsurprisingly not interested in taking note of what I was trying to teach him yet, so then it began to feel like an impossible task and at times, a waste of time.

Keen to stick with it, we took some of the pressure off and focused on five key functional Makaton signs, and consistently used them for a year. It wasn’t until Rui was three, he began to show an interest in watching my hands and then one day he just signed ‘milk’ back to me. It was amazing! This was my preverbal child telling me something that he wanted without crying or pointing for the very first time. I was elated. He’d worked out he can ask for something and someone understands what he is communicating. He is being heard! Soon after ‘milk’, he learnt to sign ‘more’ and then ‘snack’. We were making progress.

With Rui now showing some interest in Makaton, Nick and I, along with Nanny and Grandad, as well as Rui’s key workers at nursery, signed up to complete a Level 1 and Level 2 Makaton course. It was Tuesday nights for the next 10 weeks, but it would be so important for us as a family and potentially Rui’s future. Empowered with the learnings from the course, we gradually implemented more Makaton signs into our day-to-day activities with Rui, and his Makaton vocabulary has been growing ever since. Around Rui’s 4th birthday, five months ago, Rui signed ‘Mommy’ for the first time. Having never heard him say Mommy, something that I use to long for, it really melted my heart. I love that Makaton has provided us a means to communicate with Rui. It’s helped Rui understand routines, feel understood and ultimately helped him feel included. His temperament has really changed over the last year too. He is much calmer (he can still get upset and we have the very occasional meltdown) but he has shown huge developments in his intellectual understanding. It has really blown us away.

Rui is such a happy, playful, and cheeky boy. He can now use Makaton to play games, and joke around with us. His speech development is always going to be a slow journey, but he’s recently made some symbolic sounds and is attempting new sounds with his mouth, which is progress. He is now also having speech and language therapy.

Because Makaton has brought so much joy into our family life, earlier this year, Nick and I started an Instagram account called ‘Parents_Who_Makaton’ (@parents_who_makaton), so we can share what we’ve learnt with easy to digest, bitesize video clips. If we can help even just one family experiencing a similar situation it would just be so wonderful.

We sadly don’t live in a world where everyone knows Makaton, but it’s great to raise awareness (something I’m very passionate about) and to share stories of other ways some children and adults need to communicate. I still hope Rui will be able to speak one day for his own overall development and wellbeing, but the thought of him never finding his spoken voice doesn’t worry me as much anymore, because I know there there are more and more people and businesses out there willing to be more inclusive, trying to make positive change, and see learning difficulties as learning differences.

So how I relate to the Ignacio Estrada quote is that my child can’t speak the way we speak, so let’s communicate another way. And we do!

Author

Kaley Gent

Operations and Delivery Manager

21st April 2023

At home

Essential Early Years
21/04/2023

Essential Early Years

Young boy sitting on floor playing with Makaton Symbol cards

Essential Early Years logoHello from Essential Early Years!

We are a private day nursery for children aged 0-5 with special needs and we are Makaton Friendly! We would love to tell you all about how we have implemented Makaton consistently across our setting.

Young boy playing with Makaton Symbol cardsYoung girl playing with Makaton Symbol cards
>
 

Essential Early Years opened in September 2020 and began with a very small staff team who had all completed their Level 1 Makaton with the management team having completed Level 2. We very quickly realised the impact that Makaton was having on our children’s communication skills and embedded both sign and symbol into our daily routine. From this point we have included Makaton Level 1 training as part of our induction process for new team members.

Cooking ingredients with their corresponding Makaton SymbolsYoung boy sitting on floor playing with Makaton Symbol cards
 

Staff are trained to use Makaton sign and symbol consistently across the setting; through daily routines, song and story times, offering choice and generally just communicating! We use both visual and talking choice boards across nursery to encourage the use of symbol as well as sign. If a child uses the symbols our amazing team will then model the sign alongside the spoken word. We have also implemented a Makaton sign and symbol of the week which is displayed on our main doors to also encourage community participation – we quite often see people in the community stop at the door and practice the sign of the week!

Our managing director has recently become a Makaton for Babies and Families Trainer and will be delivering this training to staff and families to ensure consistency in communication approaches between home and setting. Being able to support and train parents has deepened the impact on our Makaton interventions as children are being supported consistently both at home and in nursery which has allowed their communication, both verbally and non-verbally, to develop at a faster rate.

Young boy sitting at a table playing with Makaton Symbol cards

We have a Makaton information board in our main entrance which contains lots of valuable information about the benefits of Makaton so we can share and celebrate being Makaton Friendly with families, external agencies and anyone else who visits us! At Christmas we used our social media platforms to create our very own Makaton Advent – full of Christmas signs, modelled by our amazing management team! (Full advent available on our story highlights on Instagram! @essentialearlyyearswirral)

In April 2022 we took part in the National Autistic Society’s Super 7 Fundraising Challenge in which we challenged ourselves to learn 7 new signs in a week! We loved this and used lots of opportunities to learn different, meaningful signs! In November 2022 we had our very first OFSTED inspection in which we were graded OUTSTANDING and the inspector commented on our use of Makaton within the report – “Staff use tools such as Makaton signing to provide precise support to the children as they make remarkable progress from being non-verbal to forming short sentences. Parents of children with SEND are in awe of the level of progress their children are making, saying 'the nursery has saved their lives'.” (full report available: Ofsted | Essential Early Years)

A mother signing with her young daughterA young boy signing as he looks out of a window
 

Kind Regards

Lynnette Bonner's signature

Lynnette Bonner
Managing Director

Author

Lynnette Bonner

21st April 2023

At school

Willowbank School
21/04/2023

Willowbank School

Willowbank Schol logo

Young boy holding Makaton SymbolsWillowbank School has a diverse community, and our pupils have a wide range of communication needs. We know how important a Total Communication approach is, so it just made sense to embark on the Makaton Friendly journey. Embedding Makaton into school life helps to ensure every child and young person is supported to express themselves and understand their environment. And above all, it’s fun to use for pupils and supporting adults. For us, NOT becoming Makaton Friendly was never really an option!

Makaton helps make connections, deepen relationships and foster trust between our staff and pupils. We love to celebrate success and this includes making a big song and dance whenever a young person uses Makaton. Seeing rich, meaningful communication take place is the ultimate reward and evidences clearly the positive impact of Makaton training.

Ensuring everyone uses signs and symbols everywhere, all the time, means every pupil is respected and included in all areas of school life. We strive to have 100% of our staff trained in Makaton, including teachers, classroom assistants, clerical staff, janitors and catering staff. We have also provided training for our families, social workers, allied health professionals and transport providers. We have Makaton clubs for both primary and secondary pupils and a Makaton display board with signs of the week. Makaton is a normal, everyday, valued part of life at Willowbank and we try to spread this far and wide.

Two female staff members: one signing Biscuit, the other signing CakeI can’t imagine Willowbank School without Makaton. The first group of staff were trained by Margaret Walker in 1979! And all of our staff have continued to be trained in the Makaton Language Programme. Our pupils are more able to make choices, ask questions, share news, re-tell information, and just have fun with their friends! Families are better able to communicate with their children, who are more confident, less frustrated and more engaged in communicating. Makaton makes Willowbank a friendlier, happier, more inclusive school.

If you are interested in becoming Makaton Friendly, just go for it! Get in touch with your Makaton Tutor who will be happy to talk you through the process and support your application. Being Makaton Friendly is a journey, so don’t worry if you don’t feel like you’re 100% there yet. Take it one step at a time. Really embrace training opportunities and encourage your colleagues around you to further their skills and confidence. The more you use signs and symbols, the easier it gets. Being Makaton Friendly is such a good way of showing your commitment to supporting your community.

Find out more about Makaton Friendly

Author

Kris Campbell Caldwell

21st April 2023

At school

From Baby Signing to Talking Teenager (Part 1)
13/03/2023

From Baby Signing to Talking Teenager (Part 1)

About us

Dean family Our family Makaton journey probably first started over 20 years ago when I explored signing for babies after my elder son was born. We then delved further as our younger son William arrived 5 years later. William has Down syndrome, autism plus several medical conditions. He has a hearing loss and has been wearing hearing aids since a baby.

Like many parents we learned Makaton to use at home. I recall we started to sign quite early on with William, then stopped as I couldn’t see William signing back and got quite disheartened. Other kids we knew around his age were picking up signs faster and doing better than him but they did not have his complex health issues going on. We watched Mr Tumble and Singing Hands together then I restarted doing more with him having attended Makaton training and feeling empowered and encouraged by parents of older children who recommended to just keep going. William started to sign, but at a slower pace and in his own way. Makaton and signing remain a big part of his life today as his speech development has been slow. We rely on a mixture of speech, signs and written words. Our use of Makaton has switched focus as he’s grown older to be more age related, be around encouraging communication, choices as well as preparing for adulthood.

My family is the one behind Special iApps C.I.C. specialiapps.org as we’ve been developing educational apps for children with a wide range of special educational needs and disabilities since 2011. During the coronavirus pandemic we started working closely with The Makaton Charity and you can read more about this here Special iApps Collaboration, and also what Sarah and Alfie sarahthemakatontutor.com thought of the The Makaton and Special iApps partnership.

If you’d want to introduce Makaton and are looking for tips, then I’d repeat the advice given to me a long time ago.

  • Make it fun, as we all learn more if we enjoy the experience
  • Take it easy, introduce one sign at a time that is meaningful to your family then practice and pace yourself
  • Use it daily, and incorporate throughout your day weaving signs within your routines
  • Keywords, pick out those key words and signs you need for your child you can then build them up to use more together as your child grows and develops
  • Repetition, repetition, repetition, practice, practice and practice
  • Find a signing buddy, as it’s good to share with someone going through the same thing at the same time and these friendships can last a while, even a lifetime!
  • One more thing I would add is that your child and your family are unique. Don’t compare. It’s hard not to as we as parents do, but each child is different. You will get a lot of advice from others (both parents and professionals), some of which may just fit into place, others might not. Never be afraid to try, and if you do stop or pause then take a break but do try again. Always give things a second chance and find your own pace that works for your family.

    At the very start we learned a handful of signs as and when we needed them and learned more as time went on and William progressed. Over the years I’ve met families whose children signed in their early years and then stopped as they started to talk. For us, with William, it’s been the long haul. Signing is still part of our daily lives seventeen years on as we use it when we need to. Makaton isn’t just for babies but for adults too and covers all aspects of life as children grow into teenagers and then into adulthood. There are some fantastic resources available these days, much more than when we first started our journey. I continue to find new things to do with Makaton and find new resources and realise that there was a lot I didn’t know which I wish I did when he was younger and can also see a lot more that is available and that we can use with him now. Learning is lifelong, so we continue our journey…

    Beverley Dean MBE, Founder of Special iApps C.I.C.
    specialiapps.org
    [email protected]

    See also

Author

Beverley Dean MBE

13th March 2023

At home

Ledley Hall awarded Makaton Friendly Silver
01/03/2023

Ledley Hall awarded Makaton Friendly Silver

Pictured left to right: The High Sheriff of Belfast, Councillor John Kyle; Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Michelle Kelly; Makaton Regional Tutor Grant Wetherall; Ledley Hall Committee Member Reggie Morrow; Ledley Hall Chairman Harold Jacobs; and Andy Allen MLA.Belfast’s cross-community youth centre Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club has become the first organisation in Northern Ireland to be accredited with the Makaton Friendly Silver award for outstanding commitment to communication inclusion training.

A special ceremony took place on Friday 17 February to mark the occasion. Guests included Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Michelle Kelly; the High Sheriff of Belfast, Councillor John Kyle; and Andy Allen MLA.

The Makaton Friendly Silver award is bestowed on organisations which have achieved a consistent set of criteria relating to staff training and Makaton accessibility in their public areas. Over a seven-year period Ledley Hall has completed Levels 1 - 4 of the Makaton training programme fulfilling the requirement to earn this prestigious Award.

Ledley Hall has worked with Makaton Tutor Grant Wetherall, of sign language training company SignSimply, to train leaders, parents, volunteers and boys and girls, many of whom have varying degrees of communication challenges.

Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Michelle Kelly said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Ledley Hall to be the first youth club in Northern Ireland to receive this tremendous award. It is truly a credit to East Belfast.”

Michelle Fullerton, Ledley Hall Youth Worker in Charge, said: “Over the last seven years we have made significant investment in our work to be actively inclusive, identifying the need to become trained in Makaton to ensure effective communication and inclusion for all our members. We are now in the fortunate position where all Ledley Hall staff, as well as some of our volunteers and parents, are trained to Level 4 in Makaton.”

Makaton Regional Tutor Grant Wetherall said: “Over the past seven years I have enjoyed working with Ledley Hall to realise their goal of making communication accessible for all. I am delighted that their dedication and hard work has now paid off and they can be recognised as an example to all NI organisations who seek equity of inclusion.”

Find out more about Makaton Friendly

Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club
1st March 2023

Out and about

Supporting English as an Additional Language
01/03/2023

Supporting English as an Additional Language

EAL board
 

EAL boardThe majority of the pupils at a one form entry school in Newbury, Berkshire, have English as an additional language, with families from all over the world, making this a very special and unique educational setting.

Holly was a teacher in year 3 in the Autumn term, with a class of 32 children. While most of the ‘EAL’ pupils did not appear to have a language barrier as such in this particular cohort, there was one pupil who stood out more than the rest, who would slip behind but not reach out for help, who was kind and caring but quiet. For the sake of this blog, she will be referred to as Pupil A.

Resources

We used Makaton to sign ‘good morning’ and ‘good afternoon’ every day in class. Pupil A picked this up very quickly, leading her to be more responsive and confident during the register. Signing just these two concepts daily made a significant difference to Pupil A, who would gradually start to contribute a little more in class, start conversations and make links, building on her comprehension and inference skills.

Makaton symbols were used to support story maps of the text we were using in literacy and I would sign the story to the class, which all of the pupils enjoyed joining in with. Using the symbols with the signs further helped Pupil A to sequence the stories, creating her own story maps and innovating ideas in order to write her own version.

Communication boards

Holly’s teaching assistant and school ELSA, Sian Howard, worked with Pupil A in year 2 as well as year 3. After speaking with Sian, it became clear that since introducing Makaton signs and symbols, Pupil A has made significant progress with reading and writing as well as her making links through the movement of gesture as the connections were being made with her speech and recall.

Since returning from the Christmas holidays Pupil A continues to sign 'good morning ' and 'good afternoon'. It has been noted that her spoken English has become clearer and more confident. Makaton is used for Pupil A as much as possible in the classroom setting, for example, during a Spanish lesson on animals the sign for each animal was demonstrated to Pupil A in both Spanish and English. Pupil A finds Spanish challenging but did her best to follow the new vocabulary. After the lesson Sian went through the signs with her in English, Pupil A joined in with the signing, finding it easy to communicate using both her hands and her speech, and after felt confident enough to tell Sian a story about a cat she stroked.

Author

Holly Cannon-Taylor and Sian Howard

1st March 2023

At school

Spring Taster Sessions
27/02/2023

Spring Taster Sessions

Amica signing chick

I am pretty sure all Makaton tutors love delivering training – seeing participants engaging, practising, collaborating, and having ‘lightbulb moments’ is such a buzz!

In addition to the formal Levels 1 through to 4, lots of us deliver something called a Makaton Taster workshop. This is exactly what it says on the packet; a little ‘taster’ of information about what Makaton is, who uses it, the benefits and aims as well as teaching a handful of signs.

I have really enjoyed working in collaboration with Elklan to deliver some of these online workshops based on Spring. Not only have these Taster Sessions raised awareness of Makaton and got participants started on their Makaton learning journey, but they have also made me feel properly spring like! How lovely for everyone to learn the sign for ‘chick’ (definitely one of my absolute favourites!) and sunshine! Guaranteed to put a smile on your face this Spring.

Tutor and Ambassador Amica Davies

Click here to search for Makaton Training in your area 

Author

Amica Davies

27th February 2023

At work

From Baby Signing to Talking Teenager (Part 3)
10/01/2023

From Baby Signing to Talking Teenager (Part 3)

William’s signing journey

Dean family As parents of a child who has Down syndrome, we were advised to learn to sign and start signing with William when he was just a few months old. The message was the same from other parents that we met in support groups as well as the professionals involved in William’s early intervention program.

We attended Makaton training, checking out our local library for resources, as well as buying and borrowing resources. Adding resources to his Christmas, Easter and Birthday present lists for families and friends to buy.

At the beginning we started to incorporate signing as a family at home and when out and about. Just a few key signs to start with such as “milk”, “drink”, “mummy” and “William”. I printed Makaton Symbols and put them around the house, so the toilet door had symbols and words for ‘toilet’ and ‘nappy’ (it still does today!). Sometimes this acted as a prompt for me to remember to sign during the day, not just for his benefit to see the symbol and word, but mine as well.

Something Special with Mr Tumble was new to CBeebies. In one episode we saw Singing Hands for the first time. We bought Mr Tumble and Singing Hands DVDs and signed up to local Makaton training. We also had in our collection Makaton Nursery Rhymes by Dave Benson Phillips and added Shabang and other resources as we found them. We would watch DVDs together, and so learned signs largely through songs and nursery rhymes at home as this was a really good way to repeat the actions and remember them. We joined Singing & Signing sessions with other children who had Down syndrome.

William was slow to sign, when he started he would make signs up. Many kids do. I recall we went to a Pantomime arranged by Down syndrome North East when William was just starting to sign himself. At the theatre as we sat down in our row, he started to repeatedly sign Gorilla. We were confused. There was no Gorilla at this pantomime. It hadn’t even started. Then it dawned on us. We were watching Cinderella and William did not know the sign for Cinderella, so he used what he thought best. A sign he did know from what the word sounded like. He was hearing the word endings where ‘Gor-illa’ was like ‘Cinder-ella’. We clapped and cheered and celebrated William’s drive and initiative to communicate to us, as it was one sign that came from nowhere, probably the only sign he had made that day! It’s much easier these days to check what signs are for new words you encounter and check signs that you don’t know or are not sure of as you can easily look them up on your phone. We asked other parents what the correct sign for Cinderella was. We then repeated the right sign to use and repeated it over and over again. We then went a further step, stringing more signs together to support the transition and re-enforcement. ‘Yes’, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Good’. William would sign back ‘Gorilla’ ‘Good’ accompanied by a big smile on his face. It turned out to be a little while before Cinderella was not a Gorilla in our house. His speech therapist was amused but told us that he needed to use a sign or say a word correctly more times than he did incorrectly to reinforce, associate and remember the right one.

Another time that springs to mind was when we visited a friend, and William kept signing ‘fountain’. He was obsessed with water and fountains. We were confused as could not see a fountain and explained we were indoors, there was no fountain, putting it down to his obsession. Then from the corner of my eye I realised I was in the wrong, as saw an ornament that was indeed a fountain, battery operated complete with flowing water sitting on the windowsill slightly hidden by the curtain. I quickly learned to watch and wait before correcting William’s signs. He was seeing the world differently to me, so sometimes when I didn’t understand his signs, or they didn’t make sense in context the best thing was to wait and observe him and our surroundings, by looking at what he was gazing at often at his eye-level and where his focus or attention lay. He was starting to sign to communicate and needed positive encouragement, so I needed to learn patience before jumping to conclusions.

Children are like sponges. It wasn’t just me and William learning Makaton but also William’s elder brother Joseph who would sign to his baby brother and me. He is a very good Makaton signer today as has kept up and regularly practices. When they are together, they talk a lot about what they have been doing and use Makaton throughout. It’s important everyone around William knows Makaton. William had a new PA (personal assistant). She attended Makaton training after supporting him for a few months. It was interesting talking afterwards as she had thought William was making quite a few hand gestures but having been on training realised he was talking to her using sign language. It’s made a big difference in them understanding each other.

Looking back now, incorporating signing into our life has empowered William to communicate with his hands. We believe it has reduced frustration and has also developed his communication skills. He doesn’t sign everything perfectly and he doesn’t always sign but when we struggle to understand each other we fall back to signing and we can communicate and understand each other. He has a very large bank of signs today and can remember and sign practically anything you ask when prompted by saying ‘What’s the sign for…?’ I’m often impressed with what he has remembered and the breadth of his knowledge.

We are not at the start of our journey anymore, if you are I would say that at first it can be hard work. You may have a new baby, and this is a life changing experience. All babies are different and if yours has medical conditions then that adds to the load. Supporting a child with sign language may at times seem like a steep learning curve. Remember everyone is learning something new as you and your baby learn together. Everyone is adding something new to their daily routine, if it gets too much step back and take it one step at a time. Taking up signing and using it in your day-to-day life does need commitment, especially when your child isn’t signing back but I’d say stick to it as it can take a long time before you see the rewards. I agree with what others said to me when I was at the beginning of our journey. Be persistent, practice and start off with small manageable steps. There was a long time when we signed to William, but he didn’t sign back. He watched and understood us but did not sign himself as did not have the fine or gross motor skills to do so. I’m really pleased we persisted, believe me there were times when I wondered if it was worth it and times that I did stop and pause, but then we picked it up again. Now, I know the positive benefits Makaton has had for him and how it continues to do so. Makaton still has a place in his life with our new perception as a teenager. It’s helping him transition into adult life, continue developing speech and communication, life skills and independence, enjoy singing and signing and this happens both at home and at school since he's in a Special School 6th Form.

Beverley Dean MBE, Founder of Special iApps C.I.C.
specialiapps.org
[email protected]

See also

Author

Beverley Dean MBE

3rd March 2023

At home

Makaton story time with Ian
10/01/2023

Makaton story time with Ian

I have been tutoring Ian, 53, since February.

Ian has autism and has minimal speech, which can be unclear to those unfamiliar to him. Since February, we have been exploring Makaton symbols with an aim for Ian to be using them as a communication aid to help build his independent communication when out and about.

We introduced the symbols through story spoons for the characters in Room on the Broom. I would read the story and sign each character, to which Ian would then match sign to the story spoon. Over time, Ian added sound effects for the animals as he became more confident with the use of them. Recognising symbols through stories has been effective for Ian and he now recognises a range of them.

Since the video was filmed, we have moved on the exploring how the witch feels at various parts of the story, using the Makaton symbols for each emotion. We have then linked the emotions to how Ian feels. He now accepts that it is good to feel sad, angry and worried as well happy in different situations.

Ian also has a lanyard with emotions and of interests that he uses to request and as conversation starters.

Holly Cannon Taylor

Author
Holly Cannon Taylor
10th January 2023

At work

From Baby Signing to Talking Teenager (Part 2)
10/01/2023

From Baby Signing to Talking Teenager (Part 2)

Baby signing is for any child

William as a babyOur eldest son, Joseph, was born in 1999. It was when he was around 6 months old that I first encountered and learnt about baby signing. I vividly recall being in my kitchen, standing at the counter as I prepared his lunch watching him as he sat in his highchair and talking to him throughout. But something was different. This was the first time I saw him frustrated. As I made lunch, I talked away to him (as usual) but he was getting quite agitated, becoming more and more frustrated which was so unusual for him. Normally he would be happily playing and watching me whilst I prepared our lunch. A number of things were going through my head, “was he starving and just couldn’t wait?”, “was he thirsty?”, “did he want something different to eat?”, “did he want a toy?”, “did he need a nappy change?”, “was he too hot? or too cold?”, “did he have a pain?”, “was he ill?”…

I talked. He got more frustrated. I then started picking things up to show him so I could see his reaction. “Are you thirsty?” as I held his bottle. “Are you hungry?” as I held a banana, then showing him his teddy and toy car it was obvious didn't want either neither... I repeatedly asked, “What do you want?”, and he repeatedly pointed elsewhere making frustrated babbling noises. It was obvious that he wanted something, but I simply did not know what and could not work it out. I couldn’t see quite what he was pointing at and did not understand his babbling. It was frustrating for us both. In the end I gave up, took him out of his highchair, put him in his pushchair and we went for a long walk.

I just didn't understand what he was trying to communicate, it saddened me as I had snapped and said, ‘Just talk to me!’ which was unrealistic expecting him to be able to talk at his age. I mulled it all over in my mind as I pushed his buggy. I had previously read an article on baby signing and decided to explore further when I got home. Research I did and yes it confirmed signing was a fantastic way to communicate early with babies before they developed speech. Joseph didn’t have a learning difficulty; in fact he was the opposite (as we later found out that he was gifted and talented). At the time we did not know this, I was a new mum and simply wanted to try signing with him so that we could communicate. It made sense, so I bought a book, learnt a few basic signs, “eat”, “banana”, “milk”, “drink” and eagerly started. As the months past we incorporated signing into our routine and had fun together. Joseph started to talk, our need to use sign language dwindled so quickly phased out of our lives as his speech was rapidly developing. I gave the signing book to a friend who was intrigued by learning more about baby signing as at the time it was a relatively new concept. Remember this was over 20 years ago.

I didn't think about baby signing until five years later. We knew William our younger son had Down syndrome before he was born. Knowing this allowed us to do a bit of background reading before he arrived. A friend pushed a flyer through my door about a conference organised by our local Down syndrome parent support group. We registered for the event when I was pregnant and attended it when William was just 3 months old. Signing was on the agenda, and it brought back a few memories, so I was quite keen to start again from scratch with both my boys. This time with an older sibling to try things out on was a bonus!

The message was clear. Research showed that children with Down syndrome benefit from a signing environment and that using sign does not delay speech development. Engaging in any form of communication and language will help with brain development. Both professionals and parents we met endorsed this from their experience with their own children. We learned that speech development varies from child to child and as spoken words develop, children start to replace signing with spoken words and transitions from sign to speech. “Couldn't be easier“, I thought at the time, but second time round would turn out to be a very different experience for me as I wasn’t using it to support communication with an able gifted and talented child but with one who had a learning difficulty and complex needs.

William started his early intervention program around 4 months. He was in and out of hospital has had several operations. We started to have input from his Speech Therapist and his Portage worker as well as his Physio once settled at home. William was then diagnosed with a severe hearing impairment, so we met his Teacher of the Deaf who directed us again to Makaton. William got his first pair of hearing aids to wear which we knew from his reaction to sounds worked. He wasn’t hearing much if at all without them. He wore them daily and the message from everyone was the same “Learn to sign and start signing to him now. It’s best if everyone in the family learned to sign. Don’t give up as he will take longer to sign back to you”.

You can read about how William progressed with learning to signing as a baby and as he grew up to be a teenager in Part 3 .

Beverley Dean MBE, Founder of Special iApps C.I.C.
specialiapps.org
[email protected]

See also

Author

Beverley Dean MBE

13th March 2023

At home

St Columb’s College
09/01/2023

St. Columb’s College

 

Pupils at St. Columb’s College

Hello, my name is Ana. I am from Spain but I live in Derry, Northern Ireland. My first memories of Makaton come from a video tape that I ordered when my daughter was recuperating from her heart surgery back in 2002. It was a video tape of Makaton Nursery Rhymes with Dave Benson Philips. My daughter was so poorly that I was never offered any formal training. They considered it an “unviable option” as there were little resources and they were only offered to those who were going to benefit most from the training...

Fast forward to June 2021, when despite the pandemic, lock-downs, remote teaching, remote learning, adjusting to the reality of having my daughter living in a residential setting, I qualified as Makaton Tutor. I did the Tutor Training via zoom. I was so lucky not only because my tutors were Zanna Finnerty and Tracy Clark but also because I met some of the most wonderful Makaton tutors: my fellow trainees. I found the whole experience both enriching and terrifying. (I didn’t know what zoom was until my tutor training and discovered that you can actually set the camera on top of the screen... )To this day, I meet regularly with my fellow tutors and we have become close friends. We practise; pick each other brains and we are hoping to meet in person one of these days...

As well as being a mum to a young lady with a rare chromosome disorder and a wonderful adolescent son, I am a full-time Modern Languages teacher in St. Columb’s College Grammar School. I wanted to become a tutor so that I could train the carers in my daughter’s setting, to show parents with children with special needs that we can do whatever we set our minds to, that there is hope; but I also wanted to bring Makaton to a main-stream setting. It is so important that everyone knows Makaton so that they can use it with those who rely on it as their way of communication.

I use Makaton everyday when I am greeting my colleagues and students, in the classroom when I am teaching, with my daughter... She is non-verbal but understands English, Spanish and Makaton and uses a Total Communication approach to get her point across.

I feel privileged that my workplace, St. Columb’s College, has incorporated Makaton Training as part of the Social Education Programme for our Year 13 students (formerly known as Lower Sixth). Every single year 13 student attends a Makaton Taster. Furthermore, as part of their Curriculum Enrichment, they also have the opportunity to do the Makaton Workshop Level 1.

I am so proud that nine of these young men have already achieved their Makaton Level 1; I am currently in the process of training another group of eleven students. These young men embraced Makaton and have learnt so much. They will be applying for part-time jobs, summer schemes, to work in voluntary organisations... They will be able to use what they have learnt in our wider community.

I firmly believe that education is the key. The more people that know Makaton the more inclusive society will become. When I train these young men, as part of the workshop, I talk about my own experience, about my daughter, about how a parent might feel when their child is not included or how a child might feel when he/she does not have the chance to make their voice heard.

Makaton makes it possible for everyone to build a better society. I love the core values of Makaton. I feel it is my duty as an educator and my privilege as a parent of a child with special needs to make sure that I spread the word. Makaton changes lives, not only the lives of those with special needs and/or communication difficulties but of everyone!

Author

Ana María Valadez Peña

9th January 2023

At school

Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club
09/01/2023

Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club

Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club logo

Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club is a youth centre based in Inner East Belfast, operating in the community since 1942 we have very strong links and are in the privileged position of delivering youth services to young people aged 5-25 years. The young people choose to come to us and it is this voluntary participation at the heart of youth work practice which makes the interventions we make with our young people and the relationships that we have unique to those with other professionals.

Over the last seven years we have made significant investment in our work to be actively inclusive, identifying the need to become trained in Makaton to ensure effective communication and inclusion of all of our membership. We are now in the fortunate position where all of our staff are trained to level 4 in Makaton as well as some of our volunteer team and parents. We have regular refreshers with our Makaton tutor Grant to keep us up to date.

We have purchased the Makaton Vocabulary CD’s which allow us to produce signage etc for around the centre. We operate sign and symbol of the week which is headed up by our Makaton Champion, we also have signage around the centre in Makaton, our safeguarding materials are displayed in a Makaton and easy read format and our Youth Worker in Charge has completed the Makaton Safeguarding Workshop. We not only use Makaton as a way of communicating with and providing an inclusive environment for Makaton users but we have also used Makaton to help develop the communication of our junior members through the use of songs, rhymes and at one point we had a Makaton choir.

Workshop ManualsOur plans for the incoming year are to work both on our own inclusion projects but also to work with our Makaton Tutor Grant Wetherall to share our knowledge and experience of developing the use of Makaton within the youth centre to others that Grant has recently trained by hosting them at our centre and showcasing the work that we do.

Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club
9th January 2023

Out and about

Conwy Connect
09/01/2023

Conwy Connect

Conwy Connect

Conwy Connect spent a busy few weeks really getting festive with Makaton!

Our Makaton choir consists of members with learning disabilities and their parents / carers. It was established 4 years ago and has gone from strength to strength. Our inspiration comes from the amazing Suzanne and Tracey, 'Singing Hands'.

The Choir was invited to perform at Conwy Culture Winter Sounds event, following which were then asked to perform at an all-inclusive church event for the Archbishop of Wales. The choir performed beautifully.

The Choir was started by Michele Pipe, and over the last few years over zoom and face to face we have watched communication develop and signs become clearer. We are so proud of them all!

 

Non L
9th January 2023

Out and about