Hi, my name is Sharon and I am mum to daughter Poppie who has Down’s syndrome.
Our journey with Makaton started when Poppie was first born, but little did we know this at the time! Each day we would play a programme on CBeebies called Something Special, we’re all friends. In this programme there is a character called Mr Tumble and he uses Makaton.
From 12 months old, Poppie started to respond if Makaton was being used around her, so I started searching for a beginners class in Makaton so I could communicate better with her. At this point Poppie’s hearing was suffering through Glue Ear, so she was finding it hard to hear what people were saying.
I contacted The Makaton Charity and was given details of all the Local and Regional tutors in my area. The closest tutor was holding their next class at the Barnardo’s charity head office, so I booked myself onto it, which was the Beginners Workshop in July 2016. I absolutely loved it! I found out that there was a follow-up course, which would mean I’d be trained up to stage 8 of the Core Vocabulary, so I put my name down for that next course and sat it in April 2017.
Before attending any courses, I would regularly go onto The Makaton Charity's website to learn new signs and symbols, as well as learning from Mr Tumble and now also Singing Hands (a female duo who use Makaton to children’s nursery rhymes and now also pop music).
I can’t express enough how Makaton has helped to open the gates of communication between myself and Poppie over these past 4 years, but the last 2 years especially.
When Poppie was first introduced to Makaton, she never used to sign back but she understood what I was saying to her, so responded as needed. This helped her understand and feel less frustrated about communicating.
Now Poppie signs to most words to communicate and loves signing to her favourite nursery rhymes. From day one, Makaton was used on a daily basis between the two of us but it was as Poppie got older that she started to sign back, and to use more words once attending her SEND nursery in September 2016.
Anyone reading this who is interested in learning more, please contact The Makaton Charity to find out more information. It has been the BEST thing I’ve ever achieved, after becoming a mum of course.
Through learning Makaton, I have volunteered at Poppie’s SEND school and I’m now about to embark on a whole new career working with children with learning difficulties, so my Makaton will be put to good use.
It’s also made Poppie and myself local celebrities, as we starred in the famous World Down’s Syndrome day Carpool Karaoke video, 50 mums, 50 kids | 1 extra chromosome, which went viral back in March 2018.
Little did we know or comprehend how well received the video would be but it’s definitely been worth it!
The amount of schools, both primary and secondary, who have copied the video, and some have even put their own together, has been absolutely overwhelming.
It has hopefully helped in some small way to change people’s perceptions of Down's syndrome but also opened up this new world of communication that most people never knew about.