What is Makaton?
Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people communicate. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech in spoken word order.
With Makaton, children and adults can communicate straight away using the signs and symbols. Many people then drop the signs or symbols naturally at their own pace, as they develop speech. Makaton is highly flexible as it can be personalised to the individual’s needs and used at a level suitable for them.
For those who have experienced the frustration of being unable to communicate meaningfully or effectively, Makaton can be a revelation and a bridge to greater confidence and self-esteem.
Who uses Makaton?
Today over 100,000 children and adults, use Makaton symbols and signs, either as their main method of communication or as a way to support speech and understanding.
People with learning or communication difficulties
Makaton is the UK’s leading language programme for adults and children with learning or communication difficulties. It is also used by everyone who shares their lives for example, parents and other family members, friends and carers, and education and health professionals. People with learning disabilities or communication difficulties may struggle to make themselves understood - and to understand others. This can provoke intense frustration, challenging behaviour and isolation and act as a barrier to achievement. Parents and carers can experience similar feelings of frustration and isolation, wondering how they will ever ‘get through’. Makaton takes away that frustration and enables individuals to connect with other people and the world around them. This opens up all kinds of possibilities.
People seeking to develop their language and literacy skills
Makaton is used for teaching communication, language and literacy skills with children and adults who are at an early stage of communication and language development. This structured approach can also help people who are learning English as an additional language, helping them to communicate straight away, while also supporting their learning.
Makaton is regularly used in mainstream schools, to support all children to develop communication (expressive and receptive skills), language and literacy skills. It also supports integration, as children with and without language difficulties can communicate with each other, learn and play together more easily.
All of us
Makaton symbols are widely used in public buildings such as schools, hospitals, courts and libraries, to help people find their way around. Plus, the BBC’s award-winning Something Special children’s television programme has raised awareness of Makaton among a mainstream audience. So, you may be using Makaton in daily life without even knowing it.