Getting Bertie to Sign

By Laura Brompton | Published on January 19, 2021 | 6 Minute Read

From birth, Bertie was always a quiet baby, we thought we’d hit the jackpot: he never cried, never grumbled, just sat happily in his chair without any fuss but as time went on it became apparent that his lack of vocalization may be a sign that he wasn’t developing as he should be.

Bertie was referred to Speech and Language Therapy at 9 months and we as his parents were advised to attend a Makaton course to aid his speech development and communication. At the time I assumed it was pointless as he’d surely start speaking, I had no idea we’d be using Makaton every day to communicate with our boy.

We followed the advice given and chose a few signs to use every day with Bertie, and although it felt we were getting nowhere because of his lack of concentration and eye contact we persevered and continued on.

"I had no idea we’d be using Makaton every day to communicate with our boy"

Bertie was placed on the autism pathway at 19 months, by this point he was attending a Special Needs playgroup, having portage, and awaiting placement at a specialist nursery, all of which had a whole Makaton approach so Bertie was being signed to consistently at all times, which was supportive to us as his parents as it felt like we were sharing the responsibility.

At 2 and a half, Bertie was diagnosed with Autism and started to receive autism outreach instead of portage. A similar concept but specifically designed for children on the spectrum. Bertie’s outreach worker supported us with his Makaton and how to engage him so he would make eye contact and see what we were signing, we followed this and after a few weeks I signed “more” to Bertie and he signed it back. The elation we all felt that day was incredible, after 3 years we’d finally made a breakthrough and it gave us the motivation to carry on.

Since then Bertie’s Makaton has come on leaps and bounds and is his main form of communication. He signs so many different words and can also sign to nursery rhymes. There were so many times we thought we’d give up but I’m so glad we didn’t as our nonverbal boy now has a voice!

About the Author

Laura Brompton

I’m Laura, mum to Bertie who is about to turn 5. Bertie was diagnosed with Non Verbal Autism in 2018 as well as other diagnoses. He attends a specialist school and is doing amazing. He is the happiest little boy and being his mum is a joy!