This month we are thinking about Makaton.

Makaton – what is it and why do we use it? Makaton is a language programme that uses signs and symbols to support communication. Unlike signed languages such as British Sign Language (BSL), Makaton is used alongside spoken language rather than instead of it. We use Makaton as an additional visual tool to support children and young people’s understanding of what is being said to them as well as their ability to effectively express themselves.

How do we use Makaton? Makaton is always used alongside spoken language, which means that we always speak as we sign. We do not sign every word that we speak and instead focus on the words that carry the most information – the key words. Take the sentence “the boy is running“, for example. As we are speaking this sentence, we would sign the words “boy” and “running” as these are the two words that carry the most information. Signing provides an extra visual “clue” and the child will begin to link the word they are hearing with the visual sign. They may then even begin to start using the signs themselves! Supporting children to use Makaton signs to communicate can be especially powerful for those who have difficulty communicating using spoken language alone.

Who do we use Makaton with? Here at Sarah Buckley Therapies we use Makaton with the children that we work with in schools and nurseries. But Makaton is not just limited to use with children in these settings! Almost every activity that we carry out throughout the day involves communication of some form or other, whether we are playing with friends, asking someone what they did at the weekend, or buying food from the supermarket. Makaton can be used in all these situations to support communication with children, young people and adults.

Have a go yourself! Below is a link to the Makaton Charity website where you can find out more information about Makaton.

Kate Saunders

Speech and Language Therapist