First of all, what is gestalt language processing?
It is a style of language development with predictable stages that begins with the production of multi-word "gestalt forms" and ends with the production of original phrases and sentences.
Stages of Gestalt Language Processing:
Stage 1: Delayed Echolalia
At this stage, children are scripting whole scripts i.e., gestalts, using single word gestalts, and/or using unintelligible strings of language. These gestalts can come from things family members, school staff or peers have said, or can come from YouTube, television. or even books.
Examples of stage 1 gestalts:
· Swiper no swiping
· To infinity and beyond
· Mickey Mouse Club House
· Are you ok?
Stage 2: Mitigations
At this stage, the child starts to mitigate their gestalts. This means they are mixing and matching and forming sentences with scripts from two different gestalts.
Examples of stage 2 gestalts:
· To infinity and the playground
· Are you swiping?
· Mickey Mouse ok
Stage 3: Single Words
The child now recognizes single words as units and starts to combine two words together.
Examples of stage 3:
· Mickey Mouse
· Club House
Stages 4-6: New Original Phrases or Sentences with Beginning Grammar, More Advanced and Complex Grammar
The child is now forming their own unique sentences! Stage 4 - they are beginning to use grammar. We know the child is at stage 4 and is forming their own original sentences as they are using “bad grammar”.
Examples of stage 4:
· I goed there
· We runned to school.
· She are eating lunch.
How to use our books: Stage 1
· What stage is your child at? This book is good for children at stage 1.
· It has a variety of mitigable stage 1 gestalts.
· Read it with your child and look at the pictures.
· You can make it a multi-sensory experience by adding different materials for the child to feel or by making different noises, e.g., animal noises, turning on the tap for water etc.
· If your child can read, then let them take the lead and read it for you!
· Remember gestalt language processors are “intonation babies” so use fun, animated intonation as this is how they learn language best!
· Model these gestalts at home, school and during day to day life.
How to use our books: Stage 2
· Your child is mixing and matching gestalts and has made it to stage 2.
· Pick a target, mitigable gestalt to work on e.g., I love, don’t worry, it’s yummy.
· Read the book with your child, either you read it or your child reads it.
· You can make it a multi-sensory experience. Other ideas: print out two copies of the book and cut out the pictures, put Velcro on these and get the child to match the cut out pictures to the pictures in the book.
· Remember to use fun, animated intonation!
· If the child likes to write/type, they can write/type out lines of the book.
· Model these gestalts at home, school and during day to day life e.g. I love the trampoline, chocolate is yummy etc.
Note: These books can be used for stage 1 too; make sure you pause between the phrase, e.g. “let’s go”, “don’t worry”, “let’s eat,” as they are not ready to mitigate (mix and match) yet!
Stage 3 Activities:
Stage 3 is a magic stage where it all comes together. For the first time, the child is ‘referring’ to specific objects and ideas — and you are not modeling gestalts! The child begins to recognize single words as units and begins to combine two single words together. The child needs to spend time isolating single words and combining 2 words together before we can get to stage 4 and start working on sentences and grammar! We are not yet focusing on verbs or grammar, it is completely mix-and-match.
How to use our memory game:
Print out 2 sets of the cards.
Laminate and cut them out.
Put the cards face down. Turn over one at a time. Try to get a match.
Name the item you see as you go along.
Remember, make it fun and use intonation to create added interest in the game.
If you don't get a match, turn the card back around.
Keep going until all the cards have been matched!
If the child isn't interested in sitting and matching, try hiding the cards around the room and getting the child to find them!
You could also use these cards to play “Go Fish”.
Our books and memory game are also beneficial for hyperlexic children. What is hyperlexia?
Hyperlexia is a learning style that emphasizes the strengths in visual processing, pattern recognition, decoding and really relies on consistency and a systematic approach to learning and teaching. Hyperlexic learners are precocious readers who depend on written language and visual instruction in order to learn, progress and acquire language. 80% of hyperlexic learners are gestalt language processors! Reading books with targeted gestalts or playing memory games with written single words is working with their strengths!
Language Acquisition and Communicative Behavior in Autism: Toward an Understanding of the “Whole” It. (B Prizant, 1983)
Analysis of the Functions of Delayed Echolalia in Autistic Children (B Prizant and P Rydell, 1984) http://barryprizant.com/resources/downloads/echolalia-articles/
The Units of Language Acquisition (A Peters, 1983, 2021) www.communicationdevelopmentcenter.com
Finding the Words to Tell the Whole Story (Marge Blanc, 2005)
Stiegler, L. 2015. “Examining the Echolalia Literature: Where Do Speech-Language Pathologists Stand?,”American Journal of Speech Language Pathology: 1-13.