Marena Mitchell is a Natural Language Acquisition Trained Speech-Language Pathologist
Gestalt Language Processing or Natural Language Development is an evidence-based and natural way of acquiring language.
Research from Barry Prizant, Ph.D., CCC-SLP and clinical research of Marge Blanc, M.A., CCC-SLP states that echolalia (repeating of words/phrases) is meaningful and part of language development for gestalt language processors.
Rachel Dorsey, Autistic Speech Language Pathologist reports Gestalt Language Processors initially assign an overall “feeling” to a word, phrase, or sentence. These words, phrases, and sentences are called “gestalts.” These gestalts are commonly known as “echolalia” or “scripting.” They can be spoken as an immediate response, a delayed response (such as hours or days later), or both. Because echolalia appears so different from Analytic Language Processing, the method of language development seen in many children, it is often viewed as a disordered language pattern that should be treated, eliminated, and ignored as to not reinforce it. However, Gestalt Language Processing or echolalia is a natural method of language acquisition with distinct developmental milestones, just as Analytic Language Processing has distinct developmental milestones (Banc & Lyon, 2012; Prizant & Duchan, 1981).
Gestalt Language Development has 6 stages including: stage 1 (delayed echolalia), stage 2 (mitigations: delayed echolalia + spontaneous utterance), stage 3 (isolation of a single word), stage 4 (novel language featuring grammatical errors), and stages 5-6 (novel language featuring advanced grammar).
Using a Gestalt Language Processing framework is essential to moving through the stages of language development. Natural language acquisition certified clinicians are trained to use a child-led approach, collect language samples, determine the stage of language development, and implement evidence based therapy to move through the stages.
At Bringing Therapy Home, a play-based and sensory rich approach is utilized as language models are embedded in each activity. The speech pathologist works as a team with the family to affirm and determine the meaning behind scripts, provide access to robust communication, model a variety communication functions, and move through Stages 1-6 of Gestalt Language Development. A team approach is utilized to ensure language strategies are shared and carried over across environments.