What is Makaton?

Makaton is a multi-modal communication programme for people with severe communication and learning disabilities. It was designed to aid functional communication, and it encourages the development of language and literacy through the use of signs, symbols and normal grammatical speech.

UNICA welcomes Makaton as a Teaching Tool

In 2006, all members of UNICA's teaching staff completed an intensive week-long Makaton training course. Visitors to UNICA will notice Makaton signs in key locations on the walls of the school. By improving the skills of the staff, it is hoped that Makaton will assist learners with autism to access meaning and to make everyday life and interactions more understandable.

How Makaton Can Help Teach Communication

Research shows that the preferred method of learning for most learners with autism is "visual over verbal." For example, if a spoken sentence is used, "Would you like a drink?" learners with autism may be too slow in processing the words to fully grasp the message. However, if the normal spoken language is accompany by signing the key words with iconic signs (i.e., you and drink), the learner has a visual cue to assist his understanding.

Sometimes parents worry about using signs with their child, in case it prevents him or her from developing speech. Research now shows that using signs -- even with normal developing babies -- actually stimulates the child's communication and, in the case of many children without speech, increases vocalisation. Makaton is a flexible programme which is successfully used with other teaching systems such as TEACCH, PECS and ABA.

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