How our journey began

Zoe O
6th June 2017

Leon in a ball pit


I'm married with 3 beautiful children. My husband and I homeschool our son Leon, 5 years old, who is on the autistic spectrum: he's non verbal but can sing songs word for word. It was music to our ears when we first heard him sing 'In the jungle, the lion sleeps tonight': that's what we sang to him when he was a baby.

Leon couldn't communicate what he needed and wanted: using PECS cards alone wasn't keeping his attention for long.

Leon watching Sing hands on TVAfter trying numerous ways to help him to communicate, friends who have worked with and have children with additional needs kindly gave me some Makaton resources to start my journey. When I learnt the basic signs like 'hello', 'goodbye', and 'how are you', I decided to go on YouTube to look for some more signs to learn: that's when I saw Tracy and Suzanne from Singing Hands doing some of their makaton singing for 'Peter Rabbit' and 'Wheels on the bus'. I played them over and over again until I was confident enough to show Leon.

He loved it! He never took his eyes off me: I had his full attention. I couldn't believe it: my son was showing an interest in me singing and signing. He was trying to learn to sing the songs and was connecting with me more everytime we watched the Singing Hands videos. It was brilliant!

Leon with his Singing Hands DVDsMarch this year his Daddy surprised Leon with three Singing Hands DVDs. He was so happy when he saw them. This started the first breakthrough of Leon's progress, with him saying 'teddy bear' for the first time when he saw the Makaton symbol. I was so excited and proudly videoed him saying it. I was over the moon! I couldn't stop smiling. Now when Leon wants me to sign the teddy bear song, he comes up to me and says 'teddy bear' very clearly.

The week after that, Leon surprised me by saying 'it's a rainbow'. It made me determined to learn the signs for the song just to see him smiling happily, watching me singing and signing. The 'Hello Song' was the next one, then 'Baa Baa Black Sheep'. 'Open Shut Them' is his latest favourite.

Zoe with her three childrenLeon learnt to sign 'Five little monkeys swinging in the tree with me' by looking at himself in the mirror. He's just learnt the alphabet with the 'A..... your adorable' song. Singing Hands have really done wonders for him. Leon has started to say some of his favourite foods when he sees them, he's slowly back to using PECS cards again, with Makaton signing helping him recognise more objects. I've recently joined in The Makaton Charity's Signs of the Week: I absolutely enjoy doing it, which makes it fun to helping Leon with his interaction and communication path.

I'm so proud of how much Leon has achieved in a short space of time. He's taught me that anything is possible because Makaton has opened a door for him to communicate. I'm so thankful to Makaton singing: it really has brought a massive positive difference. As a family we all love to join in learning together. I recommend it to anyone.

At home

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