Communication Development Center

Welcome. We’re glad you found us! No, we don’t look like our former clinic that provided speech, language, and communication supports for 22 years. But we have learned a lot over the years — and post-pandemic, we are dedicated to sharing thoughts that will continue to support natural speech, language, and communication development!

Please read on below for some more about us.
Illustration for Anthem by Leonard Cohen
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
Anthem by Leonard Cohen

Yes, there is a backstory here... one that needs to be told. Our ancient website had a crack in it, one we couldn’t fix. The website was so old that we couldn’t change, or even delete, anything! Marge Blanc’s published articles and book used language that was commonly used in 2004, and even in 2013, when the most recent writing was published. But that language now risks communicating ableism and disrespect. And it can hurt the feelings of some of the very people the writing was meant to embrace. Current terminology referring to autistics was not used then, so you read language like 'children with autism,' and 'children on the autism spectrum.’ Please know that I wrote those words without the understanding I have today. And please know that regardless of my ancient terminology, I honor (and honored) you and the people I wrote about back in the day! I can't fix those published articles and book, but I can address the issue.

Autistic people let us know that the crack in our bell interfered with our message. Autistic people let us know that we could not expect our message of honor and respect to get through that flaw. But their light/your light shined through that very same crack — and our website is being up-dated as you read this. If I can’t change the articles, I can at least explain what happened, and provide a disclaimer with each of the writings.

Please accept my apology. It is deeply felt and sincere. And stay tuned. Your light will be reflected back to you!

Link to the CDC Facebook page »

Link to NLA courses and NLA book

Natural Language Acquisition on the Autism Spectrum: the Journey from Echolalia to Self-Generated Language (M. Blanc, 2012)
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Natural Language Acquisition In Autism: Echolalia To Self-Generated Language: Level 1
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Natural Language Acquisition In Autism: Echolalia To Self-Generated Language: Level 2
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Natural Language Acquisition in Autism: Echolalia to Self-Generated Language: Level 3
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The NLA book

Natural Language Acquisition on the Autism Spectrum: The Journey from Echolalia to Self-Generated Language by Marge Blanc, M.A., CCC-SLP

For international orders
For international readers! An e-book is finally in the making, and should be available early in the New Year. In the meantime, please check #International in the Natural Language Acquisition Study Group to be able to read the (poorly-formatted) .pdf!

NLA Handouts!

We are so excited to unveil our new handouts, in English, Spanish, and Canadian French! They are NLA-consistent, and accurately translated! Thanks to our multilingual team of Paulina Elias and Douce Pichette who joined me in this endeavor. More languages to come!

  1. Click to download in English »
  2. Click to download in Spanish »
  3. Click to download in French »

Articles by Marge Blanc

Marge Blanc’s articles were published in the Autism Asperger’s Digest between 2004 and 2013 — and are included here for your use and sharing — with one caveat: When you read them or share them, please know that some of the language that was commonly used then is no longer used by autistic people or the neurotypical people who honor them! While we cannot change the published articles from their original form, we can apologize for this antiquated language, and ask that you share this explanation along with the articles. Thank you!

The articles are being released gradually, with a short comment about each.

When Speech Gets Stuck (2004):

This article presents a hierarchy of support for speech development, particularly when speech is ’stuck’ at the foundational levels of deep breathing, voicing, and intonation — the levels that support the more refined motor movement we recognize as speaking (vowels, consonants, sequences of sounds, and volitional speaking). The article is about whole-body ‘praxis’ or motor-planning, and offers supports for the refined coordination needed for speech production.

"...dyspraxia is a disorder of motor planning, not automatic motor execution. If a motor pattern has been practiced long enough to become automatic, it is no longer a 'plan.’

"An amazing array of muscles needs to coordinate before a child can talk fluently...muscles of breathing (specifically exhalation), muscles of voicing/phonation (vocal folds), and the muscles of articulation (oral speech), including those of the jaw, tongue, and lips. So, it is a rare child who can tell you that the rest of his body is ‘stuck.' His muscles of speech are probably ‘stuck' too, even more so."

Click to read When Speech Gets Stuck »

Finding the Words… to Tell the “Whole" Story (2004):

This multi-part article is the precursor of the book, Natural Language Acquisition on the Autism Spectrum: The Journey from Echolalia to Self-Generated Language (2012). It is a good ‘beginner’ article describing NLA as the description of gestalt language development, and follows the journey of Marge’s first autistic client through the four main stages of language development.

Click to read Finding the Words … to Tell the “Whole” Story »

More Than Words (2010):

Six articles in one, this series was written for parents, particularly parents of a newly-diagnosed autistic child. It follows the development of communication from pre-verbal reciprocity to first language chunks, and supports parents as they look at their child’s communicative intentions and interests — and ways to match them with language.

"In the beginning was the intent, the reaching out to someone who was already there, that grew into the reciprocity of all our relationships!”

“ reflect the joy of life, our language system needs to find some pleasurable contexts and expressions within which it can grow.

“...our kids were talking far earlier than their first identifiable, understandable word."

Click to read More Than Words »

Important Resources

Here is the book by Ann Peters that started it all! The Units of Language Acquisition, 1983 and 2021.

From the Abstract: “...whether a Gestalt or an Analytic approach was used, children must in general start out with whatever units they can acquire, whether large or small…this phenomenon is a manifestation of one of the central processes in all early language acquisition. This process is the extraction of pieces, or ‘units,’ from the speech stream in which the child is immersed…at the earliest stages there is a cognitive limitation constraining the child to processing (e.g., extracting and producing) what to the child is one unit at a time. This stage would have been more accurately labeled the ‘one-unit stage.’ Recognizing that children may be extracting phrases as well as words as their first units can explain the wide range of variation in the size of these units, measured in conventional words or morphemes (or even syllables). Thus one child's early vocabulary may consist primarily of one-word labels, whereas another's may contain a higher proportion of multi-morphemic expressions.”

— Ann Peters, Professor Emerita at University of Hawai'i at Manoa, 2021

The Units of Language Acquisition (1983, 2021)

Hear Ann Peters and Marge in the October 27, 2021 webinar with NJ Autism Center of Excellence, ‘Echoes of Echolalia.'

Click to watch the webinar, Echoes of Echolalia: Looking at Autistic Language Development Through a New Lens »

Please feel free to share this handout Kate Shapiro Flaxman and I prepared for the December 2, 2021 webinar with NJAutism of Excellence, 'AAC: Connecting with Language Learners.’ The handout suggests useful gestalts and mitigations that can be added to robust AAC systems for gestalt processors who use AAC.

Click to download The Units of Language Acquisition »

Click to read and download NLA Handout »

Click to watch the webinar, Connecting with Language Learners »