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Gestalt Language Processors versus Analytic Language Processors

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

There are two different ways children can develop language. Most people are familiar with language development that includes cooing and babbling and develops into first words and word combinations, such as “momma up” or “bye dog.” Children who develop language in this way are called Analytic Language Learners. But there is another way children can develop language. For some children, they learn ‘gestalts’ or chunks of language first. These children are called Gestalt Language Processors. Often, gestalt language processors are referred to as “intonation babies” because they are very attracted to music and rhythm. They may hum the tune to a familiar nursery rhyme or song at a young age or use a chunk of language from a song (e.g., “All fall down” from Ring Around the Rosie). Gestalt Language Processors often use chunks of language picked up from other sources, such as television shows, adults or kids in their life, books, or songs. The first stage of language development for gestalt language processors is “delayed echolalia” or repeating language from one of the sources previously mentioned. An example might be, “round and round” from Wheels on the Bus or “It was no good, very bad day” from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” The terms Analytic language learners and Gestalt Language Processors are descriptive ways to characterize their language develop and are not diagnoses. Each is a common and expected way of developing language. When does an analytic language learner or a gestalt language processor need speech therapy? For Analytic Language Learners, we look at their development of babbling, use of gestures, and first words. More information about these stages of development is found here. When a child is not meeting these milestones, speech therapy is often recommended. For Gestalt Language Processors, we cannot look at their language development through the same lens, because the development and trajectory of how their language will grow is different. There are stages of language development that Gestalt Language Processors work through, with the first being “Delayed Echolalia,” as previously mentioned. When a child is somewhat stuck in this stage of development, speech therapy is recommended to support their progression through the other stages of Gestalt Language Processing development. Similarly, if a child has progressed to Stage 2: Mitigations, but is not progressing further on their own, speech therapy is recommended to support the child with their language development. Speech therapy for a gestalt language processor and an analytic language processor must be planned and executed differently as well. Here is more information about how that process differs.


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