PECS and Makaton

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a communication system that uses pictures to develop early expressive communication skills. Pupils using PECS begin to communicate firstly with single pictures, but later learn to combine pictures to form sentences. As many of the pupils at Mill Water use PECS, we have produced some resources that may be useful to parents and carers at home. Please contact the school for further information.

Makaton signs are used by school staff in conjunction with speech to help capture and maintain pupils' attention, to support understanding of spoken language and situations and to facilitate pupils' language and communication skills.

Makaton signing is used alongside other strategies as a means of communication for some pupils - for example, some pupils may use a combination of Makaton signs, speech, symbols, gesture and objects of reference. Other pupils rarely use Makaton signs to communicate but find it much easier to understand spoken words when they are accompanied by Makaton signs.

It is important that the whole team (family members, carers, school staff, other relevant professionals and, where possible, peers) is involved in using signs with pupils. This supports pupils' understanding, provides a model for pupils, enables then to communicate successfully and shows them that their communication system is valued.

This multi-modal approach (use of signs and symbols), where one mode facilitates another, has been shown to increase opportunities for personal expression and development. It encourages participation in interaction and socialisation and increases access to education.

Makaton is used multi-modal throughout Mill Water School daily, and meets the needs of individual users. Different strategies may be needed for different situations and communication partners. Strategies and tools may be combined to meet a wide variety of communication functions.