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What is Gestalt Language Processing?

Updated: Apr 28

Child playing with doll 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. There are four primary starting stages of GLP.

In Stage 1, individuals comprehend full gestalts, exemplified by expressions like "we're going on a trip in our favorite rocket ship," from their favorite TV show "Little Einsteins."

Stage 2 involves mitigable gestalts, where children begin to mix and match components, like combining "we're going" with "to the store."

Stage 3 marks the point at which children transition to processing words as single units and commence combining them into unique productions. For example, ""

Finally, Stage 4 represents the initial stages of grammar development, wherein children start producing spontaneous utterances, albeit with some grammatical errors.

Unfortunately, GLP is not a standard part of most graduate programs, and unless a speech therapist undergoes additional training, it is likely that the child is being treated with a more traditional language approach. Children who are gestalt language processors can make progress in producing self-generated, spontaneous speech through a GLP-focused approach.

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