I was aware that I needed more tools to help me to communicate with and support some of the children I work with. I was sometimes finding it a struggle to get the children to understand the therapy sessions that I run and had begun to feel that the sessions with children with communication difficulties were not as effective as they could be.
I work as a Senior Paediatric Occupational Therapy Assistant at a children's integrated therapy service in conjunction with speech and language therapists and physiotherapists. My work takes me into nurseries and schools to work with children who need help to develop skills such as fine and gross motor skills, coordination and balance etc.
The children I work with have a range of difficulties including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), developmental delay, coordination or sensory disorders and many others. Many of these children also have communication difficulties, in addition to their physical difficulties and often use Makaton to communicate. I came to conclusion that I needed to learn to speak their language.
With all this in mind when my employer, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, offered me the opportunity to attend one of our in-house Makaton Foundation Workshops I readily accepted. They recognise the benefits that Makaton training brings and how it helps the work we do with the children.
Having completed the training I quickly noticed the difference in the therapy sessions. Whereas before I would sometimes have difficulty understanding what a child was trying to communicate and I was unable to convey even simple requests, now I can. I do not have the opportunity to use Makaton daily but the course has given me the confidence to sign and I now know enough to understand the children I am working with. The result is that the children become more involved and benefit more from the sessions.
In turn my ability to use Makaton has helped to reduce the children's frustration and to make them feel included. They no longer feel they are not being understood or unable to communicate, which has made my therapy sessions so much more successful. I have also found that the more I use Makaton with the children, the more they use it with me making communication between us more relaxed and easier.
It was a really positive move to go on Makaton training and I am so pleased that my employer thought so too. I see the benefits in my work regularly. I think that Makaton is something that more people working in similar jobs should be trained to use, it would make the work they do more effective and successful.