Our Speech Therapy team has put together some helpful do’s and don’ts tips for parents on communicating with Gestalt Language Processors.

 

Communicating with Gestalt Language Processors: Do’s and Don’ts for Parents

Gestalt language processing is a way of developing language in which one acquires scripts or chunks of language, known as gestalts, usually learned from stories, TV shows, movies, or phrases from others. As a parent of a gestalt language processor (GLP), understanding your child’s unique communication style is essential. GLPs follow a series of stages in their language development, eventually leading to original flexible language. While this is a common way to naturally acquire language, you may be wondering how you can best help your child move through these stages. Below are some practical guidelines to enhance communication with your child and facilitate their language growth.

 

DO:

  • Acknowledge your child’s gestalts as meaningful communication – GLPs often use scripts or gestalts from books, media, or people. Even if you don’t fully understand the meaning yet, acknowledge their utterances. Engage with them using their preferred gestalts. Let them know you heard them and know they are communicating. You can repeat it back, smile, nod, and/or respond with “yes,” or “okay.”
  • Follow your child’s lead – Let your child engage in highly preferred activities during playtime and don’t try to change their play. All forms of play are okay! Follow the child’s interests, as this will elicit the most engagement and communication.
  • Model language naturally – During daily routines and within play, model language in a natural way. Avoid asking a lot of questions. Your child might not yet be ready to respond to questions and excessive questioning can cause pressure to communicate.
  • Provide modeling from the child’s perspective and without expectation for the child to repeat you – We can infer what the child might be trying or want to say and provide a model, but it is up to the child to decide whether they want to repeat the model. Your child might not imitate if it doesn’t resonate with their intention.
  • Collaborate with professionals who understand gestalt language development and sensory integration – Work with your child’s SLP to determine your child’s current stage of development. Collaborating with your child’s OT can help you better understand your child’s sensory profile and activities that may help to regulate your child, further facilitating language development. Some gestalt language processors move through these stages independently, while others may need support through speech therapy.

 

DON’T:

  • Don’t attempt to eliminate scripting or use of gestalts – These chunks of language have meaning for your child and can be communicative in nature. In addition, they serve as building blocks for language development.
  • Don’t take your child’s gestalts literally – Your child is using the gestalt for a purpose, but we may not immediately know the meaning. Gestalts can be acquired during emotionally salient moments and may have more do with the context of the time it was acquired or the scene the gestalt was from. Do the detective work to try to figure out what it might mean. When does your child use this gestalt? What is the gestalt from and what is happening in that scene or situation?
  • Don’t utilize “me” or “you” when modeling for your child – Personal pronouns can cause a lot of confusion and lead to more pronoun reversals (for example, the child says “Do you want a snack?” every time they want to request a snack). Instead, try modeling with “we” statements (for example, “We need a snack!”)
  • Don’t assume that your child is able to respond to questions from you – depending on the stage your child is in, your child might not yet have the language to be able to answer questions. It’s unlikely they are ignoring you or intentionally not responding. You might see your child fail to give a spoken response, respond with a gestalt, or repeat back the question to you. If this is the case, reduce questions and increase comments.
  • Don’t assume that all SLPs know about Gestalt Language Processing and how to work with GLPs – This is a new shift in our field. Finding an SLP who understands your child’s communication style is important for progress with communication skills.

 

Keep in mind that each individual’s communication style is unique. Working with your child’s treatment team can help guide steps for the home environment.

For more information on gestalt language processing (GLP) and natural language acquisition (NLA), please visit: https://communicationdevelopmentcenter.com/

Is your child struggling to generate his or her own language?  Think your child might be a gestalt language processor in need of support? Our speech team is trained in gestalt language processing and we would be happy to help!

 

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