Jacob will be turning 11 years old in July this year. He uses Makaton with family, nursery, and primary school: in different ways and for different reasons.
As Jacob's mum, I eventually ended up becoming a Regional Makaton tutor and I also work giving keynote speaker lectures at universities about the preschool years and the difficult choice of what school to send their child to. How they make that decision, and how primary teachers can impact on a families experience during those early years. So you can see Makaton is now cemented into our home and work lives. Because of this Jacob is very aware of his communication, which continues to flourish every day.
Jacob has a very full and fulfilling life. He recently received his second belt at his martial arts grading without any help from a one to one or his younger sister. His martial arts teacher had found out how to sign ‘well done’ in Makaton as he was presented with his new belt, which made us all smile, but Jacob being Jacob corrected him so the sign looked better. Everyone laughed their socks off, including the teacher: he said he practised for ages too!!!
Jacob loves all types of music. He seems to use Makaton a lot with music and singing songs, as he can’t say the words quickly or clearly enough to keep up with the pace of the song. So Jacob has a great repertoire of Jessie J, Meagan Trainer, Florence and the Machine, Katy Perry, One Direction... the list goes on, and on, and on. So anyone who comes into our kitchen knows to expect Jacob dancing away next to his computer with the music blasting out, with Jacob signing and signing to his heart's content.
Jacob now attends the senior unit at his amazing Special School, Cann Bridge, which uses Makaton extensively throughout the school. They also have a very successful signing choir. They all do wonderful performances together with their peers and family, and the families are all very excited about attending a ‘We Cann Entertain You’ event in the near future, which will of course involve the students using Makaton.
Jacob's speech has developed so much over the last years or so. The clarity and fluidity of verbalisation has been the biggest development. Jacob will now use 8 or 9 signs with speech in some situations where clarification is needed. However if he doesn’t need to sign because people understand him, then the speech is enough, no signs are used.
More than anything I want families and professionals to know that Makaton is such a gift. A gift to feel heard, understood, valued, important, to enable everyone to become themselves. Give Makaton a try, find a training course, and encourage all people who come into contact with your child to take part too.
Makaton still continues to bring joy to our lives.
Ready Wendy's previous blog: Meaningful relationships