A few Saturdays ago Matt’s speech therapist invited Lloyd and I to attend a training course in Makaton Sign Language. Makaton was started in the UK to facilitate adults with mental disabilities to interact with their world. It has now been adapted for children with communication delay, and also specifically to the South African context.
At the end of the day my brain was exhausted as we had spent a lot of time learning and practicing new signs. But my heart was soaring as I just knew that this would further open up the world of communication with Matt. He has already shown a real interest in signing a few basic signs.
It was also a special day for me because it was the first time I have been around a group of people who know kids with special needs – those who attended were parents or therapists. I have only ever been around one person at a time who is familiar with my life experience – not a whole room full of people! I felt affirmed and understood – it was amazing. So often in social settings I am wondering how much to share about Matt with people – I have to weigh up what do they need to know. Whilst I don’t want to label Matt so they see a syndrome rather than this beautiful personality, I also don’t want them to think that it is taboo to discuss Matt’s special needs. This experience was so different – everyone understood, and so I could be completely comfortable and relaxed.
It has now been a couple of weeks since this training and we have included the signs in our everyday interaction with him. In this short time Matt has picked up some new signs – “mom”, “eat/drink” (he uses one sign for both), “bath”, “more”, “bird”, and his latest is “where?” although he sometimes uses it out of context. It's really so exciting!!!
I have taken photos of Lloyd doing each of the signs that we are teaching Matt (about 30 signs) so that we can equip the other key people in Matt’s life to also use them.
Here is Lloyd saying SLEEP and GOOD