Makaton therapy is a sign language program which consists of signs, symbols and speech. These signs are taken from the British Sign Language which is used for children with hearing impairment, learning difficulty and other communication problems. Makaton therapy is a language program which can be used alongside different modes of communication, that is, speech. Makaton therapy involves signing which will be easier for the individual to move their hands to a position than their mouth to form words. This form of therapy is an easier form of communication as it helps in the development of the early communication skills such as gestures and pointing which helps the individual with communication impairments to communicate more effectively. It helps the children who are developing normally as well to express themselves more easily. Makaton therapy helps in improving the child’s attention, listening skills, comprehension and memory. Makaton therapy can be done in the following manner:
- The key words within a sentence can be signed
- It helps to use the signs in word order
- It helps in using the Makaton signs and the spoken language simultaneously
- Makaton uses the body language and appropriate facial expression to convey the information more effectively
- Makaton therapy uses movement and direction
- It is a Universal language which remains the same throughout the world.
Makaton therapy can be used for children with a range of communication difficulties which includes the following:
- Learning disability
- Sensory impairment
- Developmental delay
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Specific language impairment
The candidacy of Makaton therapy is not limited just to the above mentioned communication difficulties and can include any other difficulty which impairs the communication needs of the child.
MAKATON IN VERBAL CHILDREN:
Makaton therapy involves signing which increases the ability of an individual to comprehend the spoken word because there will be an additional visual cue that will be present during signing, the rate of speech will be reduced and simple language will be used which makes it easier for the individual to understand. With the help of the visual cues present, it will be easier for a verbal child with unclear speech to communicate what he/she is saying. This in turn would make the child’s communication attempts more successful which will build the child’s motivation to communicate with others.
ADVANTAGES OF MAKATON THERAPY:
Makaton therapy is a type of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) which helps in the following:
- This therapy will help the child to develop the fundamental needs of communication
- There will be an increased understanding present in the child
- It will help them to support or supplement the spoken language
- It will help in developing the language skills of the child which includes the spoken and written language
- Most importantly, Makaton therapy will help in improving the social interaction as well as help in building meaningful relationships with people
- The clinician should begin by working on teaching 3-5 words/signs at a time. Once these are learnt, then the therapy can be taken to the next stage. This does not mean that the other signs cannot be taught to the child. This is to make sure that we keep a small target which will make it easier for the child to understand
- It is important to speak and sign at the same time which will support the child’s comprehension and development of vocabulary
- Makaton can be used in young children as research suggests that the children who use the sign language will develop a broader vocabulary compared to the children who do not use the sign language
- It is very essential to practice the words and the signs together as it will help in establishing consistency and will also help in building the association between the words and the signs to help the child learn better.