Makaton is a language programme which involves speech and gesture, eye contact, body language and facial expression. It is based on a series of basic everyday words and uses speech as well as gesture and/or signs. Children who may be experiencing difficulty with their speech often find it much easier to understand and communicate using gesture and/or symbols, thus helping prevent frustration and opening up new ways for children to communicate with others.
Makaton was developed in the 1970s to help children with learning disabilities to communicate. Its use has spread however to many other children too who may, for a wide range of reasons, be experiencing difficulty communicating for short or longer periods of time.
Makaton is introduced in stages, beginning with basic words and progressing to more complex words and concepts. In every case it is recommended that the choice of core or supplementary vocabulary be personalised according to the experiences of the individual child.
Further information can be obtained from the Makaton Charity website. Here there are links to training resources and also information about the (truly excellent!) award-winning BBC television series Something Special whose presenter Justin Fletcher (now a patron of the Makaton Charity) was awarded the MBE for his services to children’s broadcasting in 2008.