Supports: Stage 6

You know the support principles at Stages 4 and 5, so you might not think Stage 6 supports would be much different. Grammatical complexity is greater, of course, which means that the semantic relationships expressed by grammar are more complex. But we can rest assured that ALPs achieve this level by perhaps age 5 or 6, so our GLPs are fully capable of achieving it also.

But there are two caveats. Semantic relationships mean relationships among vocabulary items, that is, nouns and pronouns (people, places and things), verbs, adjectives, wh words, negative forms, conjunction forms, and ways that clauses relate to one another. ALPs acquire Stage 6 grammar when semantic relationships are child-like and relatively simple, so grammar is easier to acquire (‘I know that my dog is fuzzier than your dog’). For older GLPs who have processed ‘wholes’ for a long time, the relationships among the parts of their complex observations can be enormous — but referential vocabulary can be limited. So, the task for a GLP at Stage 6 will continue, as vocabulary continues to grow. Certainly reading helps to grow that ‘lexical understanding,’ so some aspects of language development will continue for years to come.

And here’s the second caveat. For a GLP, something that was an unanalyzed whole (gestalt) at one time is now being constructed in various combinations of word + phrase + word. Not only can some language from Stages 1 and 2 be accessed and used here, but phrases from Stages 4 and 5 are also part of the new Stage 6 constructions. A few examples:

  • I’m not going + because + I just don’t want to!
  • I really wanna + bring + Fido + with us + so + I can play with him  + in the car.
  • Can you help me + with my + homework + so + I can go to bed early?
  • Fido’s fine + being +  left alone + now, because he’s not a puppy any more.

We can appreciate how this phenomenon might tempt a GLP back to Stage 2 yet again. But the truth is, we all store our ‘mini-bundles’ for quick access, so even ALPs find themselves storing and using clichés and idiosyncratic wording much of the time too. 

So here’s the bottom line. GLPs still need our support at Stage 6 so they can develop a complete grammar, have some time using it, retrieving it under a variety of conditions, and incorporating it into writing, so they can then choose language for themselves as they enter middle school, high school, and beyond. Then they will be prepared to decide the ways they will self-generate their language for themselves. 

GLPs at Stage 6 are not ALPs. Besides the special challenges they have at Stage 6 (and at each Stage), many have gestalt thinking styles that lend themselves to using language to match. Add to that the challenges any growing person has with regulation, and we can see why language retrieval is a challenge until college and beyond. Often GLPs will remind us that with time, patience and good self-regulation, they can construct grammatical sentences as well as a person who has been self-generating since age 5 or 6. But at times of dysregulation, all individuals (including adult ALPs) tend to revert to the default language of their ‘terrible 2’s,’ and shout “No!!” (or worse). And default language for GLPs can be quite different than default language for ALPs.

So let’s look at the default scenarios for GLPs. When they find it difficult or too time-consuming to access grammar,  many adult GLPs have told us that there’s a tendency to go back to those beautiful, old gestalts they used as kids — because they are so emotionally charged and rich in deep meaning. Plus, there are plenty of times when those old gestalts are really more communicative for adult GLPs, and the old gestalts become the chosen language

But when either scenario happens, are the old gestalts truly ‘gestalts’ any more? That would mean ‘analyzed wholes’ which they are not any more, at least past Stage 6. Those chunks can be accessed and used, and are! Plus, new chunks can be self-constructed: completely idiosyncratic language that is stored as bundles/phrases/chunks/scripts. And other chunks can be chosen from media. But they are no longer ‘analyzable,’ but those ‘quotable quotes’ join the idioms, and figures of speech, or beautiful formulations, that function as ‘language chunks’ in our minds and our self-expression.

Beyond Stage 6 is the rest of one’s life, so having achieved self-generated grammar at Stage 6, the GLP is now prepared to embark on a journey that is even richer than most ALPs. The GLP may well have a gestalt thinking style, which represents a whole world the ALP may try to learn from scratch as they develop more whole brain thinking. 

So as we embark on this journey of ‘NLA and beyond,’ our next stories will really take on the quality of ‘…and beyond,’ and look at this topic in a way that we’ve never been able to before — because GLPs and gestalt cognitive processors (GCPs) have not been a part of the conversation. 

So stay tuned, as the ‘…and beyond’ chapter – or book – or library has yet to be written!