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  • Meredith Lamb M.S., CCC-SLP

Analytic Language Processor or Gestalt Language Processor?

Let’s talk about different ways to process language! Did you know there are two ways a child can develop language? Both processes eventually reach the same goal, which is the ability to produce flexible, self-generating language, BUT they have different ways of getting to this final developmental stage.

The first type of language development we’re going to discuss is called analytic language development. An analytic language processor begins their language development by babbling and then transitions to producing single words, two word combinations, phrases, and sentences in order to reach the skill of using original language while using appropriate grammar in conversation.

The other way a child can develop language is through gestalt language development. Gestalt language processors (GLPs) go through six stages in their language development, however, their stages look different than an analytic language processor’s. In the early stages of their language development, you may hear a child produce various phrases, whole sentences, single words, or long strings of sounds that hold a different meaning to what they actually say; this is because GLPs focus on speech intonation, relate language to a specific context or memory for a longer period of time, and learn language in “chunks” or “gestalts” versus single words as individual units with meaning.

So, what does that sound like? In stage 1, you might hear your child produce exact words, phrases, sentences, etc. that they have heard in any form of media (e.g., Youtube video, movie, music, etc.) or something a loved one has said in particular moments of time. When a GLP moves into stage 2, they begin to mix and match (i.e., mitigate) the initial gestalts they have learned and create new phrase combinations. A child then begins to recognize single words as separate units of meaning once they are in stage 3 and starts to create original word combinations. In stage 4, they use beginning grammar while producing new sentences and move on to more advanced/complex grammar while using that self-generating vocabulary when they reach stages 5-6.

You might be wondering, “why is it important to know what type of language processor my child is?” It’s important to understand the type of language processor your child is because this impacts how we can best support your child’s language skills and needs! There are specific evidence-based interventions that we use in therapy to help analytic language processors and GLPs generalize their skills to become independent communicators. If you have questions about the type of language processor your child is or how to best support their language development, give us a call or schedule an evaluation to see what a speech language pathologist says.

Below are some other resources that provide more information about gestalt language development:

- Meredith Lamb M.S., CCC-SLP



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