Tips to Support a Gestalt Language Processor

Tips to Support a Gestalt Language Processor

Tips to Support a Gestalt Language Processor

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, it goes to his heart” – Nelson Mandela

Gestalt Language learning is a completely normal way of developing language. Language is developed in two ways: analytically or in gestalt. Further, both these ways of learning language are considered normal in children. So, today we are discussing tips to support a gestalt language processor. Is your child learning a language in gestalt? Then, continue reading to learn tips to support your child.

Research Evidence

The first research evidence published by Prizant in 1983, reviews the way autistic children process language. Further, the author discusses echolalia and the cognitive-linguistic processing associated with it. The latest study was done by Luyster in 2022 and reviews the unconventional language patterns in autistics. The study details the complexities of autism and language development.

Tips to Support a Gestalt Language Processor

The overall goal of speech therapy for GLPs is to enable them to use self-generated language. Hence, these tips are most effective when interacting with a child in a natural and engaging context. So, use playtime or an interactive activity while applying these tips.

What can you do?
  1. Respond to your child. In other words, smile, nod, or repeat to acknowledge your child’s attempts to communicate.
  2. Respond using words or phrases to comment on the intention of the child’s speech. Further, do not focus on the literal meaning of what the child said. E.g.: If a child says “wheels on the bus” every time you go outside, say “Yes, going outside”.
  3. Utilize pronouns while speaking. E.g: say “I want to go play football”.
  4. Use your child’s echolalia to build on their speech.
  5. Identify the situations and context in which they echo or use scripted phrases. In other words, if a child says “wheels on the bus” whenever he/she or anyone else prepares to go outside, it means the child is using this phrase to say “go outside”. Similarly, identify specific contexts and scripts your child is saying.
  6. Use core words while communicating. So, instead of saying “Ram’s new shoes are amazing”, simplify it and say “I love the shoes” or “I love it”. This is easier for your child to pick up and speak.
  7. Provide easy phrases and repeat them often at home during playtime. Children learn chunks of speech they hear. E.g.: Say “My toy” “Come here” “Go there” or any core words often at home.
  8. Treat their scripted language or echolalia as communication attempts.
  9. Use high-frequency words and phrases at home often during interaction time.
  10. Expand your child’s words into sentences. E.g.: If they say “come come” to call someone, say “papa come here”.
  11. Observe and comment on what your child says or does.
  12. Model simple phrases. In other words, say “I want …”. Modelling sentences help GLPs build self-generated language.
  13. Always take conversational turns with your child.
  14. Use and repeat functional scripts such as: “I’m thirsty” instead of asking “Are you thirsty?”.
  15. Listen to what your child is trying to say.
What not to do?
  1. Do not ignore their attempts to communicate.
  2. Consider their scripted phrases and echolalia as speech
  3. Avoid saying “say..” “Tell me..”
  4. Reduce or avoid asking questions.
  5. Additionally, do not use long and complex utterances. In other words, use simple easy functional phrases.
  6. Do not take their echolalia as literal meaning.
  7. Don’t force them to use only verbal mode to communicate. If they use gestures or AAC acknowledge their attempts.
  8. Do not focus on teaching grammar or expect perfect grammar from your child
  9. Do not rush them to respond to your comments.
  10. Avoid focusing on their faults.

How 1SpecialPlace supports children with Gestalt language processing?

We at 1SpecialPlace employ the neurodiversity-affirming clinical practice. Further, our therapists are trained in identifying neurodiverse children who will benefit from speech therapy focusing on GLP strategies. Therefore, we believe in understanding and supporting a child’s needs and abilities. Here is an overview of the steps we follow for a neurodiverse child who is a gestalt language processor.

  • Baseline assessment for speech and language skills
  • Detailed extended assessment session to evaluate the GLP stage
  • IEP designing, keeping in mind the stage of GLP
  • Initiating speech-language therapy sessions
  • Regular progress checks to note the progress
  • Referring the child for OT / Special education sessions if required.

Useful Resources

If you are a parent of a child who is a Gestalt language processor, here are some useful links for you.

Book on Different Way of Seeing Autism

Check video on Making Sense of Echolalia

Check video on Gestalt Language Development

Listen on spotify:

Natural Language Acquisition

If you wish to know more about Speech Therapy, kindly contact us! 

For more ideas check out our other blogs! 

Ayesha Anjum
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  • Mom2J

    I have a 5 year old autistic son and I just recently heard about Gestalt Language Processing. I see several signs of it in my son. Thanks for posting the resources, especially the video. I plan to check it out as soon as I can.

  • SFKB

    Really nice article..! Thankyou for posting this.. I believe the primary caregivers might pick up and adopt most of these techniques naturally seeing how their child responds, and there’s more to learn- always.. but this is especially helpful for other adults and caregivers around the GLP children- family, friends, teachers—everyone would benefit from this!

    • Pratiksha Gupta

      Hi, I agree with you! Thanks for taking out time to share your thoughts 🙂

  • Sarah

    Thanks for sharing this! I find the “what not to do” section particularly helpful and relevant!

    • Ayesha Anjum

      Hi Sarah! I’m glad you found it helpful. Thank you for your comment!

  • Guy

    Four days ago the Therapists said Gestalt. I felt loss. Two days ago my daughter emailed me link to 1specialplace,com . This article has been so helpful. Thanks!

    • Ayesha Anjum

      Hi! I’m glad you found it useful. Thank you for your comment!

  • Dr. Kristen Prater

    As a BCBA I would love to share this resource with my families! Thank you so much for making it easy to understand.

    • Ayesha Anjum

      Hello Dr. Prater! I am happy you found this resource helpful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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