Have you been hearing a lot about echolalia, gestalt language processing, Natural Language Acquisition, or scripting lately? I’ve gotten a bunch of questions in my inbox in the past few weeks and love talking about this topic… so I thought I’d share some thoughts and resources with you all today! I can’t wait!
First things first, I want to share why this topic is so near and dear to my heart.
Back when I was an undergrad student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I reached out to Marge Blanc to see if I could get any experience at her clinic, Communication Development Center. I was incredibly lucky to get hired by her and work at her amazing clinic that specializes in echolalia and Natural Language Acquisition.
Working with her before even starting grad school was formative in how I see the students I work with and how I understand scripted language.
For a good laugh, check out some pictures of me during my time there:
Just from that peek into life there, you can get a glimpse of of how fun it was. And how supported kids were there!
Anyways, long story short, I love talking about all things echolalia so get ready for my favorite resources so you can learn more about this essential area of SLP!
To start, if you want to learn more about the background behind gestalt language processing, the names you’re going to want to know are Ann Peters, Barry Prizant, and Marge Blanc (the SLP I mentioned in my story above). Ann Peters wrote The Units of Language Acquisition in 1983! I was able to read a sample from her book on Google Scholar here.
My favorite resource from Barry Prizant is his book, Uniquely Human. It’s a must read for every pediatric SLP in my opinion! He also has a podcast!
Last, if you want to dig in really deep, or learn more about how to apply this information to your own students, I’d highly recommend following Alexandria Zachos of Meaningful Speech on Instagram or taking her course. She shares the most easy to digest, easy to use information on this topic I’ve seen!
If you’re a podcast type of person, below are my favorite 2 episodes about this topic:
1. Delayed Echolalia & Gestalt Language Processors by Alexandria Zachos (on Two Sides of the Spectrum)
2. A Discussion on Echolalia – with Barry Prizant, Dave Finch, and Rebecca Rosenozweig (on Uniquely Human the Podcast)
You could learn so much by just listening to these 2 episodes, honestly.
In addition… The Informed SLP, one of my favorite subscriptions for SLPs, recently did a free review of the evidence on gestalt language processing. You can read that here.
As with most of their reviews, this is a really brief summary and official research on this topic is hard to find… so the resources I shared above are your best best for a deep dive on this topic.
If I can impart one message with you, it’s to assume your students scripted language means something. There is nothing that makes me sadder than seeing a child whose attempts at communication are being squashed, rejected, or ignored.
If you work with autistic students, you owe it your students to learn more about this topic! Every year since becoming an SLP, I’ve had at least one gestalt language processor on my caseload. And this is important to recognize because these students benefit from different types of supports than your more analytic language learners.
**I wanted to mention that I am not an affiliate for any of the above mentioned tools or resources. They’re all things I purchased myself and found incredibly helpful to bettering myself as an SLP! Hope it’s all helpful for you too.