Isaac is 4½, he has Down's syndrome and hearing loss. We started using Makaton with Isaac when he was about 6 months old. The primary school my children go to have used Makaton for many years. We also heard about Makaton from our local Down's syndrome support group, which we started to attend after Isaac was born.
I went on a training course funded by the Down's syndrome support group, which was excellent. It is easy to pick up but you do need to use it regularly to become proficient.
I think more schools should use it regardless of who needs to use it, I run a daycare nursery and we sign and sing with all the children regardless of whether Isaac is attending the session. Most are aware of Mr Tumble and love Justin Fletcher.
Makaton is Isaac's main form of communication and he is excellent at it. All the family sign with him, including his 2 year old brother.
Isaac is extremely sociable and displays such pleasure when he 'talks' to someone and they understand and respond to him. It means he's on more of a level playing field, so he can join in more.
Isaac is thoroughly enjoying school. His support assistant signs with him and everyone else in the school are learning Makaton too. They have used the Makaton symbols around the school to help Isaac orientate himself. When we share books with Isaac we sign the story and when we sing songs we sign these too.
Last year on holiday at a campsite we watched a Robbie Williams tribute singer. When he sang Isaac's favourite Robbie song (You Know Me), Isaac ran to the front to sign along with him, loving every second of it.
Makaton has given Isaac a voice that without it would leave him isolated and frustrated, instead we have a happy, communicative young boy who can communicate many of his needs and feelings to those close to him. The person who invented it deserves a medal, and Justin Fletcher is a superhero in our house!