Autism Acceptance Week
At Bloom Baby Classes, we recognise that every child is truly unique. From cuddly toy preferences to the wide range of dreams of what they want to be when they’re older, there’s a whole range of attributes which make our Bloom babies – and toddlers – special. In our classes, these differences are celebrated, including the various ways little ones learn. So, in honour of Autism Acceptance Week, we wanted to share with you the art of Makaton, an element we incorporate in each class to ensure every child is included.
Communication is our key
At Bloom, we want to ensure all little ones can communicate in a way that feels the most
comfortable for them. To make our classes truly inclusive for children with all different kinds of learning needs, we introduced Makaton, a simple and easy form of signed communication. Using a combination of signs and symbols in addition to speech, Makaton is used all over the world to develop communication, language and literacy skills in little ones.
Autism can affect speech, language development and social communication in many ways including difficulty with understanding or using spoken language. Whilst neurotypical children can speak their first words between 12 and 18 months old, some children with autism may take until around 36 months – this is where using Makaton can truly make a difference. Using signs with speech provides extra visual support to your little one, helping those who are experiencing communication difficulties to still have a sense of identity as they understand and are understood through the independent use of signs and symbols.
Where our journey with Makaton began
During lockdown, our founder and baby development expert, Victoria Jennings, set up Bloom
Wellbeing – a parent’s group on Facebook which included sessions from a range of professionals.
Used to create a safe space for parents who were isolated at home, the group offered
encouragement and motivational posts and videos to help parents support their developing babies. Jennifer Ellison, Makaton Tutor and Speech and Language Therapist, invited parents to aid in their little one’s development through Makaton, volunteering to run fun weekly ‘Makaton Monday’ speech and language sessions for the Bloom Wellbeing families.
From this, Bloom’s love for Makaton grew and a plan was put together to train all Bloom Baby Class network leaders in all of their locations across the UK. In 2022, we committed to a nationwide initiative to ensure our classes are accessible to every child by making sure every single member of our network achieves a Makaton Friendly status before becoming a teacher.
Making memories through Makaton
Within our training teacher training programme, we introduce our teachers to everything they needto know for them to achieve Makaton Levels 1 and 2. Level 1 training provides a practical introduction to Makaton as a language, and Level 2 training builds on this knowledge to ensure each child feels supported and understood in our classes. Today, our classes are more inclusive than ever, as we continue to make each class accessible and exciting for little ones all over the UK, including those with additional needs. In your next Bloom Baby or Toddler session, why not keep an eye out for some Makaton elements? Look for teachers signing Makaton signs of the week, greetings in class or weekly songs and see if you can get involved as we celebrate our differences together.
For more top tips, or to find out more about our specialist baby development sessions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0800 4647960.