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CBeebies Grown-ups: The Benefits of Makaton for your child

Justin from Something Special explains how Makaton is beneficial for children of all ages and abilities. We talked to some parents of children who use Makaton, and they told us how it has helped them communicate. A speech therapist gives tips for parents on how to start introducing your little one to signing.

What is Makaton?

Teach your child to communicate their needs using this system of signs and symbols as used by Mr Tumble on Something Special

This activity helps: Communicating Special Needs

Makaton signing: what it is and why use it?

Makaton is the sign and symbol language used in the CBeebies show, Something Special. Makaton is designed to support spoken language – signs are used with speech, in spoken word order to help children and adults to communicate. Using signs can help children who have no speech (either because they have communication difficulties or are very young) or whose speech is unclear.

Many children’s understanding develops ahead of their speech. This can leave them feeling frustrated as they might know what they want but not be able to express it, which can lead to tantrums.

Using signing can help empower them to express what they want to say and alleviate frustration.

Symbols can be used to support communication in many different ways. Using symbols can help people who have limited speech and those who cannot, or prefer not to sign.


How to use Makaton

§  Use the sign or symbol for the important word in the sentence

§  Remember to speak and sign at the same time

§  Use clear, short sentences

§  Remember to make eye contact and use facial expression, body language and gestures

§  Use real objects and mime to give reference and meaning

§  You may need to guide your child’s hands to help them to make the sign

§  Reward any attempt at communication and use the sign and symbol for ‘Good’ to give praise


Who can Makaton help?

Makaton can help children and adults who have difficulty with:

§  Communicating what they want, think or how they feel

§  Making themselves understood

§  Paying attention

§  Listening to and understanding speech

§  Remembering sequencing

The use of Makaton signing is becoming more commonplace in pre-school and Early Years settings as a way of helping young children develop their communication skills.

Makaton is a visual way to develop communication skills, which helps stimulate sounds and words. This visual way of communicating in turn helps to encourage language development, i.e. putting words together. Makaton helps understanding, giving the child or adult an extra visual clue.