We have been providing speech, language, and social communication supports for children and young adults for over 20 years! At this time, we primarily provide assessments and consultation — helping families and teams understand how appropriate physical activity supports individuals with sensorimotor challenges to achieve natural speech and language development.

Breaking News:

CDC Speech-Language Pathologist, Sally Schmidt, has been named Co-Director by the CDC Board of Directors!

Sally and Marge will share responsibilities going forward, particularly whenever Marge and her husband, Jon, find themselves in Arizona or Scotland-wherever the golf ball flies!

Welcome, Sally, to your finally-official place in our little clinic world!


by: Sydney Champion

Hi everyone! My name is Sydney Champion, a graduate student in Communication Sciences and Disorders, and a former Speech-Language Pathology Aide at the Communication Development Center. This is the second guest blog post in this series, and I encourage you all to contribute your ideas and experiences so we can learn and collaborate with one another.

My topic is the importance of treating individuals on the spectrum, or with other challenges, like equal and adequate individuals. Many of my experiences in this blog will come from respite services I provided this summer with adolescents who were also clients of ours at the CDC. With both of these boys, we hung out at home and went out in the community. One of the boys, despite his diagnosis, is extremely social and outgoing, and often addressed strangers at restaurants, parks and libraries. More often than not, the conversation between him and a stranger went like this:

Client: Hey there, I’m xxx
Stranger: What?
Client: I’m xxx and this is my best friend Sydney.
Stranger: OK..?
Client: Sydney is from speech.

[Stranger walks away]

Usually during this conversation, the stranger is so confused and uncomfortable with our client’s interaction that they either don’t respond or do so with words like
“um” and “what?” We often get food at restaurants in the community, and too often the cashier or other employees will ask me “What does he want?” and direct all of the questions to me instead of our client, the actual customer.

To most of us, it is clear that this kind of response is inappropriate and disrespectful. However, one day we went to Burger King. We waited in line for several minutes and when we got to the register, the interaction was very different:

Cashier: Hi buddy what would you like today?
Client: Hi I’m xxx. And this is my best friend Sydney.
Cashier: Hi xxx and Sydney nice to meet you.
Client: Can I get chicken fries?
Cashier: How many, 6 or 8?
Client: 8. And fries.
Cashier: OK, $4.58 is your total today.

[Client handed Cashier the money]

Cashier: Thanks, here is your change

[Cashier handed change and drink cup to Client]

Our client filled his drink cup and took a seat at our favorite booth. I was so thankful for this man and his considerate responses to my friend. He not only took him
seriously as a human being, but he modeled a back-and-forth conversation that would be considered ‘appropriate’ by others in the community.

Why is it that people consider our client’s greetings in the park as ‘inappropriate’? What part of the greeting makes it ‘inappropriate'? The timing, intonation, pitch, gestures or context? And why do people believe that an ‘appropriate’ response to those greetings is to walk away without response, or ignore him completely and interact with me instead? Fortunately, my friend is very flexible and these rude responses did not discourage him from approaching other strangers. When these situations occurred, I usually commented that that lady may be “having a bad day” or “is in a rush” so that our client felt confident trying again.

Dismissive responses perpetuate ‘inappropriate’ social interactions between children on the spectrum, and individuals in the community. We all learn best by experiencing real-life interactions, so we should continue to bring our children to social scenarios that are supportive, patient and real. However, if these scenarios aren’t supportive, we can be their support system as they problem-solve.

Unfortunately, there is adversity that our kids navigate on a day-to-day basis. In these situations, we can serve as an emotional buffer and encourage them to try again. Social interaction is extremely important to language development, and the best way to learn is by being greeted with acceptance: that of special strangers, familiar people — and when all else fails, advocates like their ‘best friend from speech.' My hope is that, together, the community that surrounds our clients can grow and help to increase the attitude of acceptance in the community!

Natural Language Acquisition on the Autism Spectrum: The Journey from Echolalia to Self-Generated Language

"Natural Language Acquisition on the Autism Spectrum: The Journey from Echolalia to Self-Generated Language is a wonderful resource that provides the most comprehensive consideration of echolalia and language characteristics of persons with autism to date."

"In this seminal work, Marge Blanc, an experienced clinician and clinical researcher, brings us back to a crucial understanding of language characteristics and language acquisition in ASD based on her deep understanding of language development from a social-pragmatic, child-centered perspective. Unfortunately, too many educators and therapists hold on to outdated and disproven perceptions of echolalia and gestalt language and attempt to 'treat' echolalia with a lack of knowledge of the historical context and research basis of our understanding of language development in ASD."

"By looking at echolalia only through a behavioral lens of pathology rather than through a developmental perspective based on research on autism and typical development, such practices may actually be hindering functional language development. It is hoped that this important work will help educators, therapists and parents move to more contemporary understandings and practices."

"This book is a 'must-read' for all who care about supporting social communication for persons with ASD based on research and sound clinical practice."

Barry M. Prizant, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Adjunct Professor
Brown University

Director, Childhood Communication Services
Cranston, RI

Echolalia unscripted!

Echolalia communicates! And it jump-starts our students’ natural language development!

This ground-breaking book will show you how to:

  • Recognize the meaning and intentions behind echolalia
  • Support students on the autism spectrum from echolalia to self-generated language
  • Bring this information to families and your school teams
  • Connect with your students on the autism spectrum, and watch them grow!

NLA Book

Order your copy today by going to the link:


$29.95 plus shipping and handling!

A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words

Welcome to the CDC!

We are a small, non-profit clinic on the west side of Madison, WI, specializing in natural communication development in children and young adults who benefit from physical activity to support their interactions, speech access, and language development: individuals with challenges associated with autism, dyspraxia, and sensorimotor coordination.

Please email us if you are seeking an assessment or consultation. At this time, we are unable to provide on-going therapy to more clients than we serve as of May, 2019 — but please look through our website to find articles you can freely download and share. Marge’s book is a particularly good resource for families and professionals


Spring Session:
Begins January 14
Ends May 24

Spring Break:
March 18 - 22

Summer Session:
Begins June 24

ASHA 2018

Thanks for joining us for two great sessions at ASHA 2018 (Language Sample Analysis: Guiding Treatment for Gestalt Language Processors With and Without Autism and Beyond First Words: The Evidence for Gestalt Language Acquisition)! Stay tuned for more information.

In the meantime, please feel free to join our Natural Language Acquisition Study Group on FaceBook!


We are now on Amazon Smile! If you shop on Amazon.com, consider shopping at smile.amazon.com and select "Communication Development Center, Inc" in Madison, WI. Each purchase you make helps support our mission and everything we do here at the CDC!

New NLA course

The second level NLA course has been viewed many times now and the reviews are in:

"I can hardly express how important this information is – it has the potential to revolutionize language therapy for autistic children all over the world. I hope it will become one of our field’s ‘best practices’ to embrace echolalia as the first step in the natural progression of language development for our clients with autism who are gestalt language processors. I believe ALL speech-language pathologists who work with children with autism should have to take this course – it’s that important. (I think it is telling that Barry Prizant recently praised Marge’s work in his recent book, Uniquely Human.) I plan to strongly recommend Levels 1 and 2 to my students and colleagues. I certainly hope there will be a Level 3 follow-up course, and that NLA will be a topic of discussion ASHA-wide!"

Check out the course here!

What's new on facebook?

Check out this thought-provoking and eye-opening blog post about "Motor Difficulties in Severe Autism," and other links in our CDC Facebook page!

even if you've read the articles on echolalia, you may want to read about: dyspraxic speech support, language retrieval, and self-regulation.

Read more at our articles page.

articles by Marge Blanc

Bringing It Home: Physical Supports for Speech at Home and in Other Environments

It's All Gibberish to Me: Redefining "Non-verbal"

More Than Words (Parts 1-6)

Click here for more articles by Marge Blanc

NLA Study Group

Have you seen the NLA study group on Facebook? Check it out and join!

Students and professionals with background in understanding echolalia and gestalt language development can now share ideas for supporting our kids next steps in language development.

If you have not taken the NLA course through Northern Speech Services, that will bring you up to date.

Please join us, click here for more!

In case you haven't read the NLA book, here's a nice review:

"It is hoped that this important work will help educators, therapists and parents move to more contemporary understandings and practices."

Barry M. Prizant, Ph. D., CCC-SLP
Adjunct Professor
Brown University