It might seem like children all develop language the same way—they learn some words, then sentences, and finally they can have a conversation with you.
But there are two ways to develop language: analytic language processing and gestalt language processing.
Analytic Language Processing
Traditional speech therapy is based on analytic language processing. This is the type of language learning in which children start by learning small units of language, like single words, then combining those words into phrases, sentences, and conversations. Analytic language processing is a bottom-up approach to language.
Gestalt Language Processing
In gestalt language processing, children learn more in a top-down approach. These are often children who script, or who have echolalia. They might repeat lines from movies, shows, or people in their lives. These children learn entire chunks of language, or “gestalts.” They should naturally progress to be able to change up those gestalts and then learn to recombine words into their own self-generated language.
But sometimes they get stuck, and they are unable to move past repeating lines.
Gestalt language processing in and of itself is not disordered. But if you notice your child is stuck producing these gestalts, and cannot communicate in a variety of ways, that’s where we might need to intervene. When our children cannot communicate their needs this leads to frustration, shutdowns, and meltdowns.
Finding Someone Trained For Gestalt Language Processing
Oddly enough, gestalt language processing is not something that all SLPs are trained in. Not everyone receives training on this approach in graduate school, and it is a relatively new framework in the therapy world. If your child is a gestalt language processor, you need to find someone trained in this approach.
Here at Cutting Edge, we see so many individuals who are gestalt language processors that we have tried to educate our team on this approach. It is estimated that 80% or more of autistic individuals process language in this way. That’s significant! And it fits so many of the kids we work with!
Your Next Step
If you have any concerns about your child’s language development, give us a call! We can advise you about getting your child evaluated and finding them just the right support.