Monday, 25 June 2012

Learning about Makaton Sign

I have always thought about learning sign language as I thought it would be a useful skill. I thought about learning it when I was at university but it was one of things that I didn't get to do. I have seen staff at early intervention use it and wonder if it would be of benefit to Faith but no one had mentioned it so I didn't think that much of it. Then I learnt a few signs at early intervention and tried using them with Faith and she responded with curiosity and interest so when we were in Brisbane and talking to the speech pathologist I mentioned it and she introduced us to Makaton sign.

What is Makaton Sign?

Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people to 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 signs and symbols. Many people then drop the signs or symbols naturally at their own pace, as they develop speech. (sourced from The Makaton Charity

Faith's speech is slowly developing, she is saying more words and trying out more sounds but we have sort of reached a plateau so the speech pathologist thought that by teaching Faith Makaton sign we would be able to use a different cognitive pattern in Faith's brain and help her speech along. She gets so frustrated when she isn't able to communicate what she wants or needs so we are hoping that teaching her Makaton she will be able to communicate more. She loves watching the hand movements and she seems interested. It will also get her hands moving more and improve her motor skills. It is exciting that Faith will be able to communicate more in time but also to have something else to think about and entertain my brain I think is good too. It will provide insight into Faith's mind and who she is and what she wants to say. It will also provide a strong foundation for early literacy and continued language development. 

So in the last few days since we have been home we have been watching The Makaton Vocabulary Auslan Edition CD on my computer and it has been showing us what we need to get started. Participating in a course would be better but this is the next best thing. Shortly we will have the book to go with the CD and can learn more. We are starting really simple and very slowly so as not to overwhelm Faith and us. We will be really patient with her and ourselves. I learnt recently that a child has to know 150 - 200 words before they start using more words so I guess that idea would apply to sign as well. Another key is to be consistent and incorporate sign into every day life and always use it so Faith can learn. To ensure Faith gets the connection more quickly we will always use the sign and the spoken word. We have chosen simple words to begin with. For example, finish, more, play, water and bath. Just to get us started. We will also teach other family members so we are all doing the same things and Faith will hopefully be able to understand easier. Sign language is so visual that we will have to make sure that we have the appropriate facial expressions and encourage Faith's attempts and have loads of fun too which is so important.

Some of the resources that I have found include,

We are excited to start this new activity with Faith and it will give us something to work on as a family and provide numerous benefits to her.

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