I had been studying social work at University when my family's lives were forever changed by the news that I was expecting a baby with Down's syndrome. By the time our beautiful girl Bronte arrived, we had researched much about what would help her to have the happiest and healthiest life possible.
Makaton seemed to feature heavily in our online research, as an aid to communication for those who struggle, for any reason, to communicate. We learned that people with Down]s syndrome were found to consistently benefit from using Makaton.
My middle son has Aspergers Syndrome and I knew that although he didn't use signs, the school frequently used symbols to help him stay on task and prevent confusion or anxiety. The appeal of Makaton grew even more.
It seemed logical that we, as a family, should learn Makaton and use it with Bronte. I found that there wasn't much formal training available in my area of Scotland and met other parents who didn't have easy access to Makaton courses. A tentative idea formulated in my head that this may be my happy fate.
I travelled to Dewsbury and stayed with in-laws so that I could attend my Foundation Course run by Regional Tutor, Julie. I was a little nervous and worried whether I should be there among those with more professional experience. I shouldn't have worried as everyone was feeling the same and we were all beginners on our journey.
I enjoyed the course so much, my mind was made up that I would leave my prior carefully structured career plans behind and become a tutor. I completed my Enhancement Workshop in Northumberland with a lovely Regional Tutor, Cheryl. All the time my knowledge and interest increased and I loved using Makaton at home and with other children I met.
I went to Doncaster to do my Regional Tutor Training. What a week! It was intense and informative, yet fast and fun! I'll never forget getting into my car at the end of the week feeling tired and proud of myself. Our Senior Tutors Dot and Tracy, were certainly a couple of knowledgeable (and memorable) characters! I would love to go back and do it all again.
I went to Newcastle for the final part of my assessment by an experienced Regional tutor, Peter. He was very approachable and put me at ease. I was overjoyed when I passed and I smiled all the way back to Glasgow on the train.
So here I am, a new Regional Tutor, discovering how varied and fun life is by knowing and using Makaton. Bronte is now 2 and signing back to me about the things that motivate her most, usually food.
Most excitingly, I have ventured into new territory by starting my own business, Chattyhands, as a freelance tutor and children's storyteller using Makaton. I am increasing awareness of Makaton in my locale and benefitting the future for people like my daughter, by training staff to use this important skill. In addition, I am having lots of fun telling stories and singing songs in Makaton. I am a natural at it too!
I now get varied enquiries about my services from all walks of life and I just know I am building a career where I'll come home tired and satisfied after a days work, knowing I have made life just a little better for someone today and had a giggle in the process. Isn't it funny how life can take such twists?