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speech and language delay. would sign language help?

(10 Posts)
FallingWithoutStyle Mon 03-Aug-15 21:43:10

My son is 4 . He's starting school in sept. He has a speech and language delay. A limited vocabulary and problems making sounds. I've had meeting with reception teacher, senco and salt; he's been put on the sen register because he has outside agencies involved (salt).
I'm clutching at straws but is there any hope that if we learnt sign language (bsl or makaton) we could improve his communication? I mean enable him to communicate better without it all being reliant on speech? (Obv if it improves speech it would be fantastic).
I'm feeling nervous about him starting school

hazeyjane Mon 03-Aug-15 22:39:58

I am a big fan of Makaton, ds started school with no speech, but as he had some signs, a group of staff were sent on a Makaton course.

Because it is used alongside speech it encourages speech development whilst reducing frustration.

I would ask his SALT about using some with your ds.

The courses and makaton books are expensive, but maybe you could start with some of the signs used on Something Special - this is where ds and I started learning.

BSL is much more of a complete language in it's own right, although many of the signs used in early years, are the same as Makaton.

Does your son have an EHCP? With ds it is written in to his EHCP that the staff should use Makaton, and that he has daily oro motor exercise to improve his mouth movements.

FallingWithoutStyle Tue 04-Aug-15 00:04:10

No ehcp. on my first conversation with the school senco he wasn't going to be on sen register, but in a 'closely monitor' group. But the speech therapist insisted that he be put on the register because of outside agency (Ie salt) involvement. The first I heard of this was in the school meeting.
The school have this far been good. we are sending a camera to and fro from school and home so he can share what he's done. The teacher is preparing visual cues for him to use. He's going to still attend his speech therapy group in school time and a ta is going to attend with him once a month
but I don't know if I'm coming or going with it all tbh . He uses a lot of visual signs that he's made up him self , hence the clutching at straws

Memom Tue 04-Aug-15 07:39:24

I would 100% recommend Makaton, surprised SALT hasn't already started it.

Our DD had 5-10 words and was very frustrated, 6 months on she can tell stories using a mixture of Makaton and spoken words (she tends to stop using sign once secure with a new word). It has been life changing for her and our family (and nursery).

Something Special magazine has some good things in but also have a look at MyChoicePad - it's amazing!

signandsingcarols Tue 04-Aug-15 08:17:04

another one here! ds (with ASD), pretty much non verbal till 4.5, (but had 300+ signs and was signing 3 word sentences by that point, we went with SSE (sign supported English, which is (basically) BSL signs but with spoken English (and thus English word order/grammar). It gave ds communication, relieved frustration meant he could go to school and I could be (reasonably) sure he would be able to communicate,

We went with SSE rather than Makaton for personal reasons (Ds has no cognitive impairment and they weren't sure he would ever talk, so I wanted him to have a complex language and a community he could belong to, and it would be easier to link from SSE to straight BSL, (which I am fluent in anyway)

but as other have said signing, whatever you use, can be really really helpful,

PS ds is now talking 19 to the dozen, (utterly randomly, grin wink but that's the ASD)

hazeyjane Tue 04-Aug-15 08:48:57

Lovely to her about your ds, Sign.

We had the same dilemna with bsl and makaton, at one point ds was diagnosed with a hearing impairment and it seemed as though bsl was going to be the way to go, but he then had a normal hearing test, and we stuck with makaton!

I am now half way through makaton training, partly for ds, and partly because I am working as a 1-1 with a disabled child at preschool. I find that most of the children at preschool pick up makaton really quickly, and this was lovely when ds was there, as he saw other children signing as well.

Now at his mainstream primary (he is in a special needs unit, within the school) they sign during assemblies, carol services etc - it is lovely.

Ds has a couple of words now (he is 5) but they are very difficult to understand. He has a tablet communication device, which is amazing, and which we are all just learning to use, which I think will help him for the time he spends in mainstream, but the signing is a very quick and easy way of communicating.

Falling, I think you need to talk to the SALT about signing (like sign, i am surprised it has not been mentioned before), but also need a clear plan of how SALT, school and you are going to work together to support your ds with his communication. I have found that schools sometimes use visuals without much focus, and when it doesn't really suit a child, because it is fairly easy to do, and looks good (they have their place, but imo are often used inappropriately)

Your SALT should know of any local makaton courses. A facebook page for a charity which raises awareness and organises courses for makaton - they often have good makaton links and videos. The official makaton website - their resources are pretty expensive, but they do some free sign sheets, and if you like them on FB they send current signs to your news feed. something special - the website has a lot of info and the comic has loads of signs each month

At the beginning it is a good idea to think of, say, 10 words that are used often - eg more, biscuit, juice, finished, school etc and use them, whilst saying the word, everytime. This video has some good signs, to start with, and it is easier to watch a sign being demonstrated than looking at an illustration!

FallingWithoutStyle Tue 04-Aug-15 12:17:56

There is a plan. I just don't have it in writing . can I insist on a copy in writing?
Is there a link to explain the special needs terminology in schools that you could recommend. I'm going to have to keep on top of it all and not being familiar with the system is a blocker

uggerthebugger Tue 04-Aug-15 16:59:12

Hi falling, you can insist on a copy in writing, and they really should have given you a copy already - they should be asking you to do some of the plan at home, and to monitor how he's progressed against the goals they are setting him at school. The buzzword you need is 'co-production.'

Here's a very good link to some of the SALT-specific terminology -

... and here's a more general link to SEN jargon (click on pdf for full detail) -

Just keep coming back here if you need something explained, and there's often a world of difference between theory and practice...

Otherwise, yy to what sign and hazey said.

I used SSE with my two, it's just too difficult to keep BSL and spoken English going simultaneously.

Whatever sign mode you pick, it's also a good idea to sign in a way that allows your DS to see your lip patterns at the same time - so not too far away from the body or face, but not in front of the face either iyswim? Not 100% vital, but it reduces the processing load, and stops your DS looking like he's watching a tennis match...

Chocolate2015 Tue 04-Aug-15 18:16:25

I would highly recommend MAKATON as it focus on signs for the main words not every word which is easier for a Child with a Speech and Language delay to pick up also MAKATON is used alongside speech which is essential for developing language.
You used to be able to attend a Parents/Carers course levels 1 and 2 which Pre-School used to be able to book you on and you got a book with the core symbols in which was great as a reference when you are unsure of a sign. and they could come along with you, I'm not sure if this option is still available but it is worth mentioning to your little ones Pre-School/Nursery Setting smile

Free Resources

If you type in FREE MAKATON RESOURCES into google search engine you will be able to find many more symbols.

FallingWithoutStyle Tue 04-Aug-15 20:51:42

Thank you all so much. I'm touched by how willing you are to share your knowledge. I need to take some time to go through the links, esp all the sen jargon ones. I'll be back smile

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