NLA Overview

We welcome you again — this time to the true heart of our website. You are finally reading about the NLA Stages, and taking your first brave steps towards supporting your gestalt language processor to begin their language development journey. We intend to help you in every way we can as you take this leap forward.

We know that the direction you are going is definitely forward, because we have lived this process for many years, in the company of many parents, practitioners, and educators. We hear over and over again how natural, even intuitive, the process of gestalt language development is — and we know that with the right supports, your gestalt language processor will make incredible progress towards self-generated language.

We thank you for your partnership. We know that some of the faith you have given us, we have yet to truly earn. So let us begin!

You know from your reading so far that language development is just one part of development, and that conversational relationships are just part of emotional/trusting relationships. But it’s finally time to address language development directly — particularly gestalt language development! Let’s get started!

Here’s what you can do first:

1. Acknowledge how you know your child is a gestalt language processor.

A trusting relationship forms the foundation of everything you and your child do from now on. You learned that early in our journey together, and you know you and your child have one! Any time you doubt its strength, you know you will go back and strengthen it!

Within that trusting relationship, you will be able to observe your child, and inventory their play, their interests — and the language your child already has. You don’t need to ‘do’ anything more until you know where your child already is!

How? First, consider this: your GLP has already acquired some language gestalts! Even if you don’t know what they are, they are there, in your child’s head. Whether they can say or sing them or not, your child already has memories — and those memories include a sound track. It may not be clear, but it’s most likely melodic. A child as young as 12 months has already been exposed to the rich sound stream of every-day life and media — and they have acquired some gestalts in their heads. We know this because of the extensive qualitative research that formed the foundation of our language development knowledge — and from the myriad stories you will hear in the Supports thread. Your child is no different!

You may not have evidence of any gestalts, however. Your child may not even seem to be attending to the world around them. But the first premise of gestalt processing is that processing is in our heads, with or without tangible evidence. Your child may or may not be intelligibly speaking, may or may not be speaking at all, or may or may not indicate in any discernible way that they are processing that sound stream. You might be lucky enough to hear some humming; you might hear a little singing; you might hear nothing — but now you will notice any time your child is attentive to particular songs, or particular video clips that are accompanied by sound. You may be fortunate enough to see their eyes light up when they hear a particular Peppa Pig scenario or catch the refrain of a favorite song in the background. But even if you are not aware of any of these signs, you will be — once you attune your eyes and ears and brain to what your child pays attention to.

2. Take a language inventory

A trusting relationship forms the foundation of everything you and your child do from now on. You learned that early in our journey together, and you know you and your child have one! Any time you doubt its strength, you know you will go back and strengthen it!

Within that trusting relationship, you will be able to observe your child, and inventory their play, their interests — and the language your child already has. You don’t need to ‘do’ anything more until you know where your child already is!

How? First, consider this: your GLP has already acquired some language gestalts! Even if you don’t know what they are, they are there, in your child’s head. Whether they can say or sing them or not, your child already has memories — and those memories include a sound track. It may not be clear, but it’s most likely melodic. A child as young as 12 months has already been exposed to the rich sound stream of every-day life and media — and they have acquired some gestalts in their heads. We know this because of the extensive qualitative research that formed the foundation of our language development knowledge — and from the myriad stories you will hear in the Supports thread. Your child is no different!

You may not have evidence of any gestalts, however. Your child may not even seem to be attending to the world around them. But the first premise of gestalt processing is that processing is in our heads, with or without tangible evidence. Your child may or may not be intelligibly speaking, may or may not be speaking at all, or may or may not indicate in any discernible way that they are processing that sound stream. You might be lucky enough to hear some humming; you might hear a little singing; you might hear nothing — but now you will notice any time your child is attentive to particular songs, or particular video clips that are accompanied by sound. You may be fortunate enough to see their eyes light up when they hear a particular Peppa Pig scenario or catch the refrain of a favorite song in the background. But even if you are not aware of any of these signs, you will be — once you attune your eyes and ears and brain to what your child pays attention to.

The conversations and stories in this thread and the Supports thread will introduce you to the varieties of Stage 1-6 experiences clinicians, parents, and educators have witnessed. Once you read a story that reminds you of your own story, you will be intrigued. And once you realize how much a particular gestalt means to your child (even if you don’t really know why), you will be hooked. And once you understand why, you will be an official communication partner. Then you will be on your way!

Welcome!

Stages Overview.1

This first overview video begins with a comparison of analytic and gestalt language development, and continues with a description of the research and linguistics involved. Two short video clips illustrate gestalt language in very young children.

Stages Overview.2

The second overview video describes some of the history behind our misunderstanding of ‘echolalia’ when applied to children — and continues to describe why we can feel comfortable moving from that term to ‘gestalt language.’ All the NLA Stages of gestalt language development are presented briefly, preparing you for addressing each Stage specifically.