You have come to the right place! It is here that you will discover amazing truths about language development! And it is our hope that through this site you will learn that language development:

  • is far more inclusive than you ever imagined.
  • has more paths to success than you were taught in school.
  • is natural and accessible for all children when we understand and embrace the two main paths children follow

We all know about the ‘typical’ path. But there’s a second path of natural language development called ‘gestalt language development’ — which contrasts with ‘analytic language development’ that we have labeled in the past as ‘typical.’ Gestalt language development is common among both neurotypical and neurodivergent children, and has predictable steps just like ‘typical’ language development. It’s not new; it has been well-verified by early, qualitative research — but it’s gotten lost in the last few decades — and is now being rediscovered by all of us!

The truth is that both styles of language development are typical. In fact, they both lead to original, complex, self-generated language. What’s different is how each begins. One begins with language gestalts (whole phrases, songs, stories, movies); the other with single words. Each is natural, research-verified, and predictable — however, analytic language development is commonly known while gestalt language development remains unfamiliar to many of us. Why? Because analytic language processing (ALP) seems logical to us. Single words are easier for young children to say, and easier for us to understand. ALP can be easier to follow and document in kids’ development; therefore it has been easier to study. GLPs have a hard time making their long gestalts understood, are so often misunderstood and ignored, and get left out of today’s quantitative (large group) research.

But there’s another reason ALP has the reputation of being the ‘only way.’ Gestalt language processing (GLP) seems pathological to some people, because language gestalts have been seen as ‘meaningless echolalia.’ That terminology and prejudice have set us back many decades. So, even if you’ve never heard anything good associated with echolalia, here is where you will find out that there’s everything good about echolalia. It’s natural language development!

This website is the home of everything you have ever wanted to know about gestalt language development. How did this come to be? Because of Natural Language Acquisition (NLA), the culmination of clinical research that brought GLP back into focus, and back on the map.

What is NLA?

It is a detailed description of gestalt language development, supported by the clinical research of Marge Blanc and colleagues (M. Blanc, 2012). Founded on the pioneering work of Ann Peters (A. Peters, 1983), and Barry Prizant and colleagues (B. Prizant, 1983), NLA evolved as a way to quantify and detail the process: all the way from Stage 1 (use of language gestalts) to Stage 6 (use of complex grammar). NLA describes the logical, natural, developmental process of gestalt language development, and provides a road-map for supporting children in natural, conversational, developmentally-appropriate ways. 

It’s an exciting and amazing story, one that we will bring to life on these pages. As we continue to spread the word, more and more GLPs are being seen as the capable communicators they are and will continue to become. No longer are these children seen through the lens of ALP, or seen as disordered children who need to be prompted to achieve a small semblance of analytic language development. Instead, they are developing language naturally — the gestalt way! 

You will learn about it here. You will learn how to spot GLPs, and develop the confidence to support them in their journeys from language gestalts to complex self-generated language. 

You are here!

And now that you are here, we want to give you a road map, really a star map, to our website…to help you decide where to travel next.

Yes, your journey is all about language development. But this map begins with Development in general, because language development is a part of child development.

Child development is natural, and when we partner with our children, we have the potential to support them in *becoming* the people they already are. They were born to be themselves; and with our support, can develop into the freest version of themselves.

As you continue to look at the tabs at the top of the Welcome page, glance at the Development topics, and see that Processing is first. We chose this as first because how individuals see, hear, and think about life depends on their own natural neurology. It also depends on their environment, learning opportunities, and partners, but it begins with their own, highly individual, neurology.

You’ll see that Language Development is the next topic, but it’s not separate from overall child development. Language is part of life, and experienced in individual ways. Different cultures have conventions that decide some of the rules of language forms (grammar, word structure, etc), but language itself is the ‘close-caption’ part of an experience. It’s the sound track, the surround-sound, a symbolic part of experience. Language is a part of experience, so language processing is part of ‘experience-processing.’ As our illustration shows, some young children first experience single words (‘ball’); others experience long gestalts (“There it goes. The ball went out of the park.”). This illustration encapsulates the difference between analytic and gestalt processing very succinctly.

Take a look at the next topics: Regulation, Sensorimotor, Praxis. Whether or not you know anything about these topics now, you will find an introduction and lots of detail on each one. That’s because they are part of Development, and may be more or less related to your child’s language development. Information on each topic will help you, an adult who cares about a gestalt language processor, to support that child in the best ways we know.

The Communication Development Center, soon to become the Communication Development Collective, is an outgrowth of a long-standing clinical practice that developed Natural Language Acquisition (NLA), and is still the home of NLA. Now that the Collective has become an international information center, it is becoming an important resource base, with incredible articles, blogs, posts, handouts, and a full library of materials available to peruse now or later.

There’s no hurry about any of this. This is, after all, your journey, the one you share with your child. You can skip straight to NLA Stages if you wish, and look at NLA as a developmental process. Or if you already know about NLA, you can go straight to Supports and look at Supports for every stage in this process. If you are looking for materials in other languages, these will begin to multiply over time, so stay tuned to International!

As we continue to expand our universe of possibilities, you will be able to read everything on this growing site, and save anything you want for your personal use, free of charge. We feel passionate that this information be accessible to everyone. While there are links to purchase the original NLA book, and three professional-level NLA courses for those who feel it may benefit them, the same information is all here and it is completely free. This information doesn’t ‘belong’ to anyone, and exclusivity is antithetical to the universal sharing that this movement is about. Just as the NLA Facebook groups are spreading internationally, we are cognizant of the fact that this natural language acquisition style needs to be understood by everyone. The days of pathologizing echolalia, and considering GLPs to be substandard ALPs, can no longer continue.

To make this material available without cost, donations are graciously accepted — if and when you are able. All donations are tax deductible in the US, as Communication Development Center, Inc. is a registered not-for-profit organization. 100% of donations will be used to extend our educational forum — and greatly appreciated.


September 30, 2022

Wow! We are so gratified with the response to our new website! And we’re excited to point you in the direction of the newest features in our star map.

First of all, you will see that Jes’s blog is now easier to find, and as you immerse yourself in it’s profound content, you will realize what an amazing researcher she is — and how well she describes autism for us!

Next, we’re excited to showcase NLA-style assessment for gestalt language processors. Check it out under Supports!

Enjoy yourself, and be sure to let us know what you think! Take a look at the Discussion form that you can fill out and submit to us!

See you in the cosmos…

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