Maddy, who's nearly 4, has Down's syndrome. Her brother Zac, 2, has no learning or communication difficulties.
We have been using Makaton since Maddy was about 6 months old. So Zac has been exposed to Makaton all his life. We learnt it as we went along. The Something Special and Singing Hands DVDs have been hugely valuable. And the sign and symbol books from Tipi Books have been useful: they've helped Maddy's playgroup to grow in confidence with signing.
When Maddy was about 10 months old she began to use signs such as all gone, drink, eat and hat. Our vocabulary has increased as our daughter has needed new ideas and concepts to be introduced. We now sign all sorts of things. Though as Maddy's speech develops we use signing less, but always use it to reinforce new ideas and concepts.
Maddy loves music and signs to songs. She now speaks in two and three word phrases, sometimes more. For example, she'll tell us to be quiet because her little brother is asleep. It is wonderful to see her tell us what she is thinking about - it's often the cat!
Her speech is getting clearer all the time. I am convinced that early signing has helped hugely. She is becoming quite a chatterbox.
On a farm visit when she was 14 months old she told us (signed) the horses had hair as she stroked their manes. It was a fantastic moment!
Maddy picks up new signs very quickly. Using Makaton has meant that she has been able to communicate her basic needs for some time now, in many cases for longer than her typically developing peers.
At home all four of us use Makaton. In addition some friends of the family also communicate with Maddy and Zac using Makaton as well as speech. It has been wonderful to see both children communicate their wants and needs well before their speech is at that level.