Makaton signs and their associated symbols give visual clues to the meaning of words, questions and instructions.
Many of the signs look like the objects or activities they represent. For example, ‘book’ looks like someone opening a book. There are also clues in signs that you don’t get in the spoken word. For example, the sign ‘To Wash’ shows what should be washed.
Similarly, symbols also give information about the meaning of words and for older babies have the added advantage of stimulating the visual memory for longer than the spoken word. Information provided in a visual way may help a baby to understand much more of what is being said and presenting information in this way is likely to be done at a slower pace, thereby giving baby more time to process and understand what is being said.
Using Makaton reduces frustration
Babies often use gestures before they can speak, to tell us what they want. For example, a baby might ask for a biscuit by making urgent sounds and looking or pointing at the biscuit tin. He or she may hold out their arms to be lifted up.
Signs can be linked into early patterns of language development. Communication begins with crying, eye contact, facial expression (a smile) and social interaction. It develops with vocalising, gestures such as pointing, imitation, play and turn-taking.It is essential that these skills are in place before speech can develop.
Signing uses all these aspects of communication and so can help to reinforce them. Babies have limited ways to communicate and may become distressed because they cannot express themselves. Being able to form signs makes it easier for them to communicate their needs. When a baby begins to speak, he or she may be difficult to understand. If you have been using signs with your baby then they can help when these difficulties arise.
Makaton simplifies communication and encourages sociability
Using Makaton Signing for Babies helps us to think about what we want to say to our babies at a language level that is appropriate to them. It is important that the signs your baby learns are the most useful and relevant ones.
By starting out simply, it is more likely that you and your baby will remember them more easily. Signing may also encourage your baby to be more sociable and to join in and develop the potential to communicate and interact from an earlier stage in their natural development.
Makaton provides flexible and complimentary communication
You can use Makaton at the same time as you may be using other early child development or stimulation programmes that may have been recommended by your Health Visitor or Speech and Language Therapist.
The words in Makaton Signing for Babies have been chosen specifically to make it possible to develop two-way communication with your baby.