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Being able to communicate is one of the most important skills we need in life. Almost everything we do involves communication; everyday tasks such as learning at school, asking for food and drink, sorting out problems, making friends and having fun. These all rely on our ability to communicate with each other.

What is Makaton?

Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people to communicate. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order.

With Makaton, children and adults can communicate straight away using signs and symbols. Many people then drop the signs or symbols naturally at their own pace, as they develop speech.

For those who have experienced the frustration of being unable to communicate meaningfully or effectively, Makaton really can help. Makaton takes away that frustration and enables individuals to connect with other people and the world around them. 

Benefits of using Makaton

Makaton uses signs, symbols and speech to help people communicate. Signs are used, with speech, in spoken word order. This helps provide extra clues about what someone is saying. Using signs can help people who have no speech or whose speech is unclear. Using symbols can help people who have limited speech and those who cannot, or prefer not to sign.

Makaton is extremely flexible as it can be personalised to an individual's needs and used at a level suitable for them. It can be used to:

  • share thoughts, choices and emotions
  • label real objects, pictures, photos and places
  • take part in games and songs
  • listen to, read and tell stories
  • create recipes, menus and shopping lists
  • write letters and messages
  • help people find their way around public buildings

Learning how to use Makaton

The best way to learn Makaton is to attend a workshop. It means that you learn with other people, share your experiences, receive feedback on your signing and symbol work and enables you to practice with others.

The Makaton Charity advertise training on thier website. You can find out if there are any sessions or workshops running near you: 

Training in Ealing 

The Ealing Speech and Language therapy team run a 6 week 'Makaton Sign Time' course every term, designed for parents, carers or family members who would like to enhance communication with their babies and children (under 5 years old).

Parents and practitioners attending the 'Parent and Practitioner' workshops will also be provided with an introduction to Makaton signing.

All training is advertised on our Events page, alternatively you can get in touch with the Ealing Speech and Language Therapy team directly.  

Tel: 020 8826 8856 


Useful links and resources

Makaton Charity - The Makaton Charity exists to ensure that everyone living with learning or communication difficulties has the tools and resources they need to communicate. Find out all about Makaton and how it is used, download free online resouces and access training near you.

We Talk Makaton- Find out what the 'sign of the week' is and learn how to do it by watching the video or downloading the free printable resource. 

Ealing Speech and Language Therapy- Ealing Speech and Language run a signing course in Ealing for parents and children who would like to learn Makaton, as well as various other groups supporting communication.

Benefits of using Makaton- Cbeebies Grown ups video on how makaton has helped children with SEND communicate. 


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