I really wanted to learn Makaton - children’s sign language. In college, I studied Children’s Care, Learning and Development and we spent two days a week on placement. I worked with this little boy who had autism; I loved him to bits and it’s honestly one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Children with additional needs often struggle to express themselves and can find communicating quite stressful, so Makaton gives them an outlet to be heard.
Children using Makaton can often speak and hear, but signing helps them to communicate and understand better. Simple signs like yes, no, toilet and thank you help to improve their ability to communicate. Some children choose not to speak as well, so it can be a way to encourage them to express themselves.
As the Children, Young People and Education Department Officer, I spoke to my Head of Department to see if we could set up some introductory sessions. I didn’t know if we would actually be able to organise it, but we found someone who was passionate about supporting students and he jumped at the opportunity.
Then there was the challenge of getting students to come along but I was overwhelmed with responses. It sold out and there was a waiting list! It will now continue each year for the department. Even though the Makaton session is only a beginners class, the amazing thing is that with a few hours of lessons we were able to sign basic human needs, which is all some children need to feel confident.
Makaton makes such a big difference; I strongly believe that it is everyone’s human right to be able to communicate effectively and I feel really proud that I played a part in that progress.