If your child is using 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. We call this process Natural Language Acquisition or Gestalt Language Processing.
Let’s explore the following stages of Gestalt Processing:
Stage 1: communicative use of whole language gestalts
(e.g., “let’s get out of here”)
Children and young people in this stage use echolalia. They need to hear more gestalts or scripts. So, your job is to model, model, model and to use functional language that your child can repeat back.
Stage 2: mitigated into chunks and re-combining these chunks
(e.g., “let’s get” + “some more”) and (e.g., “let’s get” + “out of here”)
This is when you take parts of gestalts or phrases and then combine it with other parts.
Stage 3: further mitigation (single words recombining words, formulating two-word phrases)
They are going beyond their gestalts. Furthermore, they may begin to label different objects.
Stage 4: formulating first sentences
(e.g., “let’s get more toys”)
You may see more grammatical errors during this phase as they are creating unique sentences. Please don’t worry about this, it means they are playing and experimenting with language. As communication partners, you could model the correct form of the sentence.
Stages 5 & 6: formulating more complex sentences
(e.g., “how long do you want to play inside for?”)
You can see that language learning is a process, that is trialled and tested, used in different contexts for children to be able to learn and use language appropriately.
My next blog will give you activities ideas and how you might use them specifically with a Gestalt Language Processor.
Remember early intervention is vital. So, if you have any concerns, please seek the advice of a Speech and Language Therapist.
Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.