Help with developmental language disorder and communication

Young boy with developmental language disorder in classroomMakaton can help children with developmental language disorder to communicate by combining signs, symbols and speech to help develop language skills, understand and be understood. Makaton helps children with developmental language disorder to communicate independently using signs and symbols, with many naturally dropping them at their own pace, as speech develops.

How does developmental language disorder affect speech?

Developmental language disorder (DLD) is a type of speech, language and communication need that affects the way that children understand and use language. DLD was previously known as specific language impairment. Having DLD means that a child or adult has severe, persistent difficulties understanding or using spoken language.

A person with developmental language disorder may:

  • not talk much and find it difficult to express themselves
  • use language which is immature for their age
  • struggle to find words to express themselves
  • not understand, or remember, what has been said

For more information visit RCSLT – Developmental Language Disorder

How is developmental language disorder diagnosed?

Developmental language disorder is diagnosed by a speech and language therapist (SLT). Speech and language therapists also have a crucial role to play in supporting people with DLD, along with their families and the professionals working with them, to understand their diagnosis, achieve their potential and reduce the impact of their challenges.

To find a speech and language therapist visit RCSLT - Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists

How does Makaton help children with developmental language disorder and their communication?

Some individuals who have developmental language disorder may find that Makaton helps them to speak. Signs are used with speech to provide extra visual support about what someone is saying. Using signs helps people who have no speech, or whose speech is not clear. Symbols can be used by people who have limited speech, or those who either cannot or prefer not to sign.

Some children with developmental language disorder may prefer to use PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) as their chosen form of communication. Makaton symbols can be used with PECS.

Many children will develop understanding ahead of their speech, which will leave them feeling frustrated as they may know what they want but are unable to express it. Makaton targets this frustration, allowing them to communicate meaningfully and effectively which promotes inclusion and independence.

Makaton can help people with developmental language disorder who have difficulty with:

  • conveying their feelings, wants and needs
  • being understood
  • attention and listening
  • visual sequencing memory

With Makaton, individuals with developmental language disorder are able to connect with other people and the world around them, which opens a range of possibilities. Learn more about Makaton

How can Makaton be used in everyday life?

Makaton is extremely flexible, as it can be adapted to suit an individual’s needs and used at a level that works for them.

It can be used for a range of purposes. Some include:

  • sharing thoughts, choices and emotions
  • labelling objects, pictures, photos and places
  • participating in games and songs
  • listening to, reading and telling stories
  • creating recipes, menus and shopping lists
  • writing letters and messages
  • helping people find their way around their environment

Makaton signing is being increasingly used in mainstream and SEN specialist schools to allow all pupils to communicate effectively. Find out how Makaton works

How do I start out with Makaton?

Are you ready to take the first step and start learning Makaton? Getting started with Makaton is fun and easy. The best way to start learning Makaton is to attend Level 1 training . It means that you learn with other people, share your experiences, and practise with others. It also gives you the opportunity to meet and build a relationship with a Makaton Tutor, who can help and support you in the future. Use our quick and easy search tool to find a workshop near you  (both online and face-to-face training is available).

Makaton Membership complements and enhances training with 24/7 digital access to symbols, signs and video tutorials plus the support of our vibrant online forum, MakaChat. Membership is a valuable support tool for family and friends of Makaton Users and professionals who use Makaton in the workplace.

If you prefer to learn at your own pace, in your own time and in your own home, membership  is a great way to begin your Makaton journey. With a choice of Individual and Group Memberships, simply select the Membership that's right for you.

Visit our Membership  area to start your free 7-day trial.