Mummy, Mummy” is the sound coming from the baby monitor. I jump up, startled, it cannot possibly be... it’s the middle of the night and my little girl who cannot talk is saying “Mummy”, calling for me. I rush into her room hardly able to believe that she has suddenly started talking, only she is fast asleep - the monitor has picked up the sound from another home nearby. I go back to bed upset, for my little girl is eight and unable to speak but I never give up hope. Hope that one day she can say “Mummy” and chat with her friends - I know she would dearly love to be able to tell me about her day at school and to have friends to share secrets with.
As a mum, you always have hopes and dreams for your children and my hope is that after years of fighting for survival that she could eventually talk to me.
A simple dream, but one she may never achieve. Francesca has a rare genetic condition which means she may never be able to talk.
So how do we improve the world for children like Francesca who may not be able to speak or hear?
Could you imagine what it would be like if you couldn’t understand speech? It must be similar to the experience of going to a foreign country and not being able to understand or speak the language.What would you do? You would probably start to use gestures in order to convey your message or use objects or drawings.
Makaton is used in 40 countries worldwide to help children and adults with communication difficulties. Makaton users are encouraged to use the signs, to reinforce and support the spoken word.
As a link is made between the word and sign, the signs are then dropped and the word takes over. Sometimes children are never able to speak and therefore Makaton becomes their constant tool of communication
I have learnt Makaton to Level 8 and it is my hope and desire to be able to teach local businesses, schools and mums and dads basic Makaton to ease frustrations for so many children and adults with communication difficulties. Thus they are able to ask for simple things such as a ‘drink of water’ or to simply be able to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, to feel included in society and to be able to move forward in life without as much difficulty.
Maybe it should become part of the National Curriculum that basic signing is taught in all schools. As the world becomes more inclusive and understanding, we should learn more ways of communicating with people who are born less able, to make the world a place for ALL, no matter what your disability.
I feel that all children should be encouraged and have the opportunity to the same experiences as others, to encourage them to achieve their full potential.
For these children, every day is precious. It can take longer for a child with special needs to perform simple tasks e.g. putting their shoes on.
Society needs to give these children more opportunities for learning, greater understanding and time. It is important that they feel included in society, to be able to access therapies and activities, to make friends so they feel less frustrated and more able to cope with everyday life.