Communication is a fundamental skill in the lives of all human beings. Through language, people can express their needs, emotions, thoughts, and ideas. However, for some individuals, communication can be a challenge due to disabilities or speech difficulties. It is in this context that Makaton emerges as an invaluable tool. In this article, we will explore what Makaton is, its history, how it works, and its importance in promoting inclusive communication.
History of Makaton
Makaton is a communication system that combines gestures, symbols, and spoken words. It originated in the 1970s in the United Kingdom, developed by Margaret Walker and Katy Reynolds, who were looking for an effective way to communicate with people with speech disabilities. The name “Makaton” comes from the words “ma” (hand) and “katon” (sound), emphasizing the importance of gestures and sounds in the system.
Since its creation, Makaton has evolved and become a widely used communication system worldwide. It has proven to be particularly beneficial for people with autism, Down syndrome, developmental disorders, and other disabilities that affect communication.
How Does Makaton Work?
Makaton uses a combination of manual signs, symbols, and spoken words to facilitate communication. In its most basic form, it consists of three main components:
- Manual Signs: These are simple gestures that represent words or concepts. The manual signs in Makaton are specific gestures with clear and consistent meanings. For example, the gesture of touching the tips of the index and thumb together can represent the word “water.”
- Symbols: Makaton symbols are images or graphic representations of words or concepts. These symbols are used in combination with manual signs and spoken words to provide more comprehensive communication. Makaton symbols are especially useful for people who have difficulty understanding or remembering written words.
- Spoken Words: The third component of Makaton is speech. Spoken words are used in conjunction with manual signs and symbols to help people fully understand the message. The combination of gestures, symbols, and spoken words creates richer and more effective communication.
Makaton is adaptable to individual needs, and people can use it in various ways. Some may rely more on manual signs and symbols, while others may use spoken words to a greater extent. The system’s flexibility allows it to be tailored to the abilities and preferences of each person.
Importance of Makaton
Makaton plays a crucial role in promoting inclusive communication. Here are some reasons why it is so important:
- Facilitates Communication: Makaton provides people with disabilities with an effective way to communicate with others. It allows them to express their desires, needs, and thoughts, which, in turn, improves their quality of life.
- Promotes Inclusion: By using a communication system that combines gestures, symbols, and spoken words, Makaton facilitates interaction with people who may not be familiar with speech disabilities. This promotes an inclusive environment where everyone can actively participate in the conversation.
- Reduces Frustration: For people with speech disabilities, the inability to communicate effectively can be extremely frustrating. Makaton gives them a tool to express their thoughts and feelings, reducing frustration and improving their emotional well-being.
- Improves Understanding: Makaton can also be beneficial for those who interact with people using the system. Manual signs and symbols can help clarify the meaning of words, making understanding easier.
- Promotes Autonomy: Makaton empowers people with disabilities by allowing them to communicate more independently. This provides them with a greater degree of autonomy in their daily lives.
- Wide Applicability: Makaton is used in a variety of settings, including education, healthcare, therapy, and everyday life. Its versatility makes it valuable in different situations.
Makaton is a universal communication system that combines gestures, symbols, and spoken words to facilitate communication for people with speech disabilities. Its history, functioning, and relevance in promoting inclusive communication make it an invaluable tool for improving the quality of life for many individuals. By giving people with disabilities the ability to express themselves and connect with others, Makaton plays a fundamental role in creating a more inclusive and accessible world for everyone.