I have been a speech and language therapist for around 15 years and have always been involved in Makaton with my children, students and families.
I first learnt about Makaton when I was gaining experience to get on to the degree course to become a speech and language therapist and have always loved the “sign and speak” nature of Makaton. Since those early days, I have gone on to learn more and more signs and suggest and support Makaton to many families and schools all over the North West.
Nowadays, I run a small but busy independent speech and language therapy practice in Cheshire. All our team members are Makaton trained and use signs to support speech and language with a vast range of children and young adults.
We are currently working through the Signing for Babies package teaching our youngest children to use Makaton with the Cheshire Down’s Syndrome Support Group that run a cheeky monkey’s session every month and love seeing Makaton being used to request, comment and negotiate!
More recently we have been using the Makaton Core Vocabulary approach to raise awareness of signs and signing in the schools we work with and both The Russett School in Cheshire and Brookfields School in Runcorn display the Sign of the Week.
In Russett we have a display board in the main entrance showing the sign and giving ideas on how to use it which means that everyone learns a new sign every week! We have had comments about how health professionals traveling from different schools enjoy learning and using the sign to take away for other children in different settings too!
We have developed class-based Makaton dictionaries to ensure staff have access to the signs they need to support their students and I often get unusual requests for signs as I walk in the door for topic-based work! I especially like the signing choir and enjoy watching the students learn new signs to their favourite tunes and last year we were lucky enough to join in the Christmas Countdown, which resulted in much hilarity filming our students in tinsel and Santa hats!
My love for Makaton continues to grow and we are now busy making symbols and signs for our clinic and settings with a hope to reach Makaton Friendly status this year. Makaton is so easy to use and can support so many people I am often signing as I speak without realising it!
Makaton has been a real game changer for many of the children, families and staff we support, and I can’t wait to extend my knowledge of signs again this year.