Let’s break it down into steps to make these complicated words easier to understand. Once you have a deeper understanding, you will then be able to support your child or young person develop their communication skills in the best way as a Gestalt Language Processor. Remember not every child will be a Gestalt Language Processor; if your child uses echolalia and/or has a diagnosis of autism then your child’s way of processing language is most likely different to the classic way children typically learn language.
Let’s start with understanding what each of these words “Gestalt Language Processors” mean.
Gestalt: “the way a thing has been placed or put together”
Language: “a system of human communication”
Processors: “responds to and processes basic instruction”
So, let’s put those meanings together. “Gestalt Language Processors are children who process early language in strings of sounds or chunks.” They tend not to process single words.
It is important to understand this way of processing communication because between 75-90% of children with Autistic Spectrum Conditions process language in this way (Blanc, 2012). We know that it’s important for young people to have their voice heard and to be able to express themselves. So, it’s vital that they move from echolalia to self-generated communication to be able to do this. This means that our children’s communication partners play a vital role in supporting their child’s language. We can support our children by modelling phrases until the child has learnt the process themselves.
Let’s explore an example together
X (who is a gestalt language processor) and his family love to feed the ducks in their spare time; this is an activity that takes place regularly. Let’s look at how you, as the adults, could support X in his communication. Look at the phrases that are used. They are meaningful to the activity with repetition used throughout.
Top tip: You could think of an activity you and your child or young person take part in on a regular basis and brainstorm some key phrases that you could use.
Need a boost in confidence to support your child’s gestalt language processing?
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