Part of Makaton’s charm is that it is fun to do. Signing to music and performing with a choir is invigorating, exciting and even addictive. Sometimes it’s easy to bypass the serious benefits of Makaton.
I wanted to share a success story, a story that has filled me with pride. Pride for myself, my school and the child I’ve seen go through this journey.
When he started in my class, I soon realised he was charismatic, kind and relished every opportunity to communicate with staff, pupils and the wider community. As I gave him a tour of his new school he excitedly greeted everyone who passed us, keen to build relationships and friendships in this new scary environment.
The struggle he faced was forming words and sounds, making the same noise for each word he was attempting to say. With a clear understanding of what he wanted to communicate, he would sign and gesture his way through every conversation.
The pupils and staff of Holbrook school have embraced Makaton and part of the reason they have done so, is to be able to speak with him. He has been a driving force for making our school Makaton Friendly, and is celebrated within our Makaton community.
In the past few weeks we have had a breakthrough: his speech is becoming clearer and he is beginning to form actual words and sounds.
One morning during a cold playground duty, I watched him ask another teacher if he could come in from the playground to go the toilet. He used the correct words and attempted every sound and she understood his question completely, answered yes and he walked inside.
It sounds so simple, but it was a wonderful moment, for a young boy who could not make many sounds a year ago, is now able to voice a whole sentence and be understood, being part of the spoken conversation at last.
Of course he has had speech therapy and phonics taught in school, I do, however attribute much of his success to using Makaton. It gave him confidence and was a gateway to communicating. The opportunity to sign to his peers and use speech alongside it, taught him the rhythm of speech, structure of sentences and built a vast vocabulary, one that he is not shy to use.
Makaton gave him a way to communicate and along the way helped him find his voice.