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Is My Child a Gestalt Language Processor?

Updated: Jan 18

Child playing with a puzzle in speech therapy

Gestalt Language Processing (GLP) is a method through which many autistic children acquire language skills. Unlike typical language development, which progresses by learning language in individual units such as one word, followed by two words, and then grammar, GLP involves learning language in complete chunks or scripts initially. Individuals with gestalt language processing abilities initially grasp full scripts and may require assistance in breaking down these comprehensive language chunks into smaller units of meaning.

Did you recently learn about gestalt language processing and aren't sure if your child is a GLP? Continue reading below for some key indicators that your child is indeed a gestalt language processor!

  1. Your child loves humming/singing songs even if you can't hear any "real" words mixed in yet!

  2. Your child "talks" but typically in long spans of utterances that are not "true" words.

  3. Your child produced phrases they have heard from their favorite media outlets, sometimes not in context but sometimes can be in context.

  4. Your child replays videos repetitively to "hear/listen" to certain parts or phrases.

  5. Your child likes to repeat play scenarios the same way each time.

  6. Your child repeats the same phrases or single words for a multitude of different meanings.

  7. Your child seems to pick up on phrases/sentences that are produced with rich intonation such as in videos or said with lots of exclamation as opposed to regular speech.

  8. Although not ALL autistic individuals are GLPs, there is a very high likelihood that if your child is autistic, they also are likely a GLP.

Sometimes, not all children who are GLPs will start off with those full chunks of language we think of as scripting (i.e. To infinity and beyond!). This often happens if a child has been in speech therapy at a very young age (often before an autism diagnosis) which used a traditional approach to therapy. Also, if a child has been in ABA from a young age, they also have been very likely been provided with "taught" or memorized language. In these instances, children who are GLPs may not present with these long scripts and rather have many "taught" phrases that are often used to make requests. Some examples include overgeneralizing certain phrases such as "all done, bye bye, more" to communicate a variety of different things.

Are you a parent and want to learn more about Gestalt Language Processing? Sign up for our 4 week course offered via Zoom here!

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