My grandson Ryan, aged 3 years 9 months, has Down's syndrome. He goes to nursery two days a week.
Ryan started using Makaton when he was 10 months old. He attends a music and movement class where they use some Makaton signing, and his parents and I have now been on an evening course.
We've bought books and DVDs and I have picked up a lot from the people at the music and movement class. The pocket book of baby signs is very useful as you can put it in your pocket or handbag.
We are trying to teach Makaton to my husband, Ryan's 'Gramps', but it is a very slow process as he is recovering from a stroke and his short term memory is poor, but Ryan is making him persevere. It was lovely last Christmas to see that my husband had remembered one of the songs we use and signed it to Ryan. The joy my husband and I get from being with Ryan is immeasurable.
Ryan knows a lot of signs but his favourites are biscuits, cake and chocolate: quite natural for a 3 year old I would think! He does them slightly wrong but we all know what he means. You can tell he is really pleased when he communicates correctly: he claps himself and we all join in clapping.
Everyone who knows Ryan has said he is coming on a lot quicker now that we are all doing Makaton. Ryan is very bright as he connects things that you would not expect any child to do at his age, so we feel he has a bright future. The fact that we are all using Makaton in the family has certainly made communication much better for him. If all the people who are dealing with a child 'sing from the same hymn sheet' it is better for the family and the child.
When I was a child, Down's syndrome babies were put into an institution. Today people are much more educated about Down's and the various therapies they can get. And with families being able to use Makaton to communicate at a much earlier age, children with Down's syndrome can now live a meaningful life.