Gestalt Language Processing
Zoah Speech & Outreach specializes in supporting children who use echolalia and scripts to communicate. Our goal is to help your child move through the stages of Natural Language Acquisition (NLA) and say what they want to say!
What is Gestalt Language Processing?
Have you heard about the "other" language learning style yet? Surprisingly, there are actually two ways to learn language - analytic language learning and gestalt language processing.
Gestalt language processing is a natural and valid way to learn language. Research suggests that at least 85% of autistic children learn language this way - starting with repeating things they hear from others (e.g., song lyrics, catchy phrases, movie lines) to eventually using more flexible, original, and spontaneous language over time.
While some children progress through the language learning stages quickly on their own, others may get "stuck" in the early stages and need support to grow. Our goal is to support your child in moving through the Natural Language Acquisition (NLA) stages to eventually say anything they want to say with novel, self-generated language!
How do I know if my child is a Gestalt Language Processor?
Here are 10 characteristics that are common in gestalt language processors (GLPs):
They seem to be "stuck" using single words
They use echolalia or scripts they heard someone say (e.g., repeating lines from movies, videos, TV shows, songs, etc.)
They speak with an expressive voice and rich intonation, even if the words are not clear
They started singing or humming songs before they started speaking
They say words in certain sentences that they don't seem to use in other/new sentences
They use language that sometimes seems "out of context" for a given situation
They try to use long strands of speech, but the words are hard to understand
They make pronoun errors or talk in 3rd person
They have difficulty answering questions
Their language skills are not growing with "traditional" (analytic) speech therapy approaches
Please note that this is not a complete list of characteristics, and not all gestalt language processors demonstrate all of these signs. Likewise, just because a child demonstrates some of these characteristics does not mean that they process language this way. If you think your child may be a gestalt language processor, we recommend an evaluation to learn more about their language learning style and stage of development!
Our Approach to Speech Therapy
~ Neurodiversity Affirming Therapy for Autistic Children & Families ~
Zoah Speech & Outreach focuses on building communication skills while honoring each child's unique interests, sensory needs, and learning style. We make sure that your child has a way to say what they want to say and authentically connect with those around them. Speech therapy is most effective when we are able to combine parent coaching with individual child-led sessions.
As parents, YOU are your child's primary language model... which is why we teach you helpful language strategies throughout the speech therapy process!
Using an approach called Natural Language Acquisition (NLA), we will partner with you to support your child's language development in their daily life - at home, therapy, and school. This approach is simple and natural, allowing you to easily apply strategies during normal routines and interactions with your child.
Our parent coaching sessions will make you feel educated, confident, and more deeply connected to your child.
Language opportunities are everywhere... whether your child loves to climb, build, read, pretend, or play chase, we will model natural language during:
Sensory and motor activities that get their bodies regulated and moving
Fun activities involving favorite toys, books, and play routines
Special interest activities with materials and toys from home
Creative and hands-on tasks (e.g., making a book or a comic)
Children learn best when they are regulated, self-motivated, and engaged!