This week, we present Part 1 of Chris and Rachel’s interview with Marge Blanc and Alexandria Zachos. Alexandria and Marge are two SLPs who have written and presented nationally on the Natural Language Acquisition (NLA) framework and Gestalt Language Processing. The NLA framework looks at the different ways that people, especially people with autism, develop language. One important aspect of this is “gestalts”which are strings of language that can be long or short, and are often tied to an emotional, meaningful, or dramatic experience. This episode's half of the interview focuses primarily on "delayed echolalia," which is stage one of the Natural Language Acquisition framework.
Before the interview, Chris shares about a previous experience being taught about “learning styles” in grad school (e.g. visual learner, auditory learner) and how "learning styles" were contradicted by later evidence. Chris discusses ASHA’s triangle of evidence-based practice (e.g. what research says, what clients who got the intervention say, and what experts in that area say about the concept) and how he uses it to engage with new ideas and concepts with a balance of skepticism and openness to new ideas.
Key ideas this week:
🔑 Gestalts involve episodic memory as opposed to semantic memory. A person who is gestalt language processing assigns meaning to a whole chunk of sound - it’s the soundtrack from an experience. For example, a child may pick up the script “To infinity and beyond” watching a movie they really enjoy. Later, when they do another activity they enjoy, they might say “To infinity and beyond!” again.
🔑 According to Marge and Alexandria, we shouldn’t jump stages and start teaching individual words and morphemes to someone in stage one of the NLAF. Because the NLA framework is a developmental process, we wouldn’t want to jump ahead to teaching Step 4 before going to Step 2 and 3. If we do, they may develop splinter skills in some areas without developing important foundational skills and understanding.
🔑 When older children and adults say a shortcut phrase or idiom (e.g. “Autobots roll out” to leave the house), it is probably not a “gestalt”. Gestalts are primarily used by younger children in Stage 1 of the Natural Language Acquisition framework, and are usually tied to emotional, meaningful, or dramatic experiences.
To listen to the previous episode with Alexandria Zachos, go to
Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!
Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!