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Therapy for Gestalt Language Learners versus Analytic Language Learners

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

When children develop language differently, their treatment must also be approached in a unique way. Gestalt language processors are children who develop language in chunks, or gestalts, and may need support progressing through their various stages of development. Analytic language learners are children who learn first words and when they have a robust repertoire of single words, they start to combine them to produce short phrases.

When working with an analytic language learner, session goals might be to work on “target words” and gestures. A child may be supported to develop words and gestures for words such as open, more, and help. To do this a speech therapist plans a session with materials to continually model and reinforce these words and the accompanying gesture.

A session with a gestalt language processor may use the same toys and materials, but the way the speech therapist interacts and models language must be different. If a child is at Stage 1 of Natural Language Acquisition, they are working on building gestalts to share a variety of things, including asking for help, seeking more of a sensory experience, or protesting an activity or action. The speech therapist will plan gestalts to target and model these throughout play. These gestalts might be, “Some help?,” “Let’s do it again” and “Maybe next time.”

It is essential that therapy is tailored to the needs of a client. Gestalt language processors develop language in a very different way than analytic language processors and so their therapy must also look different.


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