Harry's first word

Samantha Crookes
10th June 2019



Hearing your child’s voice is something that every parent, including myself, takes for granted until that day that the realisation hits you: my beautiful boy may possibly never talk. My son Harry (5) is diagnosed with Non-Verbal Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Makaton made a grand entrance into our lives, much the same as all new parents, in the form of Mr Tumble.

My eldest boy Freddie, spent his toddler days absolutely besotted by the legend that is Justin Fletcher, so naturally when Harry arrived, he too shared the love and enjoyment that came along with anything Makaton related. Along the way I had managed to pick up a few signs, as did Freddie.

Noticing Harry’s level of engagement seemed to increase and he suddenly became more aware of what you were saying and would will you to talk and sign, tapping you on the chin and lifting your hands. It was decided when he was 2 that Makaton would probably be the best way to encourage communication.

We started having the Portage service coming for weekly meetings where the symbols and signs formed his first PECS folder, visual timetable for at home, and sheets upon sheets of resources in order for me to self-teach.

I was then made aware of a one-day workshop that would be happening in my local CDC, so immediately I booked on. During the session we were shown some basics signs, which unfortunately I already knew therefore had a thirst for more. When the wonderful Tracy Clark announced she would be running a beginner’s course over 2 days. I chomped at the bit and couldn’t wait to start!

The training was invaluable! I was shown so many useful signs and it has allowed me to be able to use Makaton in the majority of my communication with Harry. He now has an awareness and understanding that was lacking before, therefore assisting in making his life that little less frustrating. Things that may seem so small to others such as explaining that its time to eat or sleep now are something that I can do with ease.

At the start of the training process it was explained how Makaton is a language program that supports speech, not just sign language. You have a very minimal understanding of how true that actually is until you can see it in action. Within a couple of weeks Harry was signing “more”. This was then immediately followed by the sign for drink then along came cake. All of lifes most important things, nailed!

I am so grateful to Makaton along with support from family and school for the improvements in Harry’s world and I’m incredibly proud to say Harry finally has a first word!

His little voice is the most incredible sound I have ever heard and it fills me with so much hope for his future.  For anyone sat on the fence and trying to justify attending the workshops, my advice is: do it! This has been by far one of the best things I have ever done for my beautiful boy! Its no where near as tricky as you might be led to believe and by just adding one new sign a week you would be surprised how quickly you can pick it up!

Sam Crookes x

At home

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