Let’s unpack some buzz words that you may have been hearing lately:
“Echolalia” is the repetition of language spoken by others. It can be repeated either immediately or after some delay. With echolalia, language is stored as a “chunk”, or a whole unit.
“Scripting” is another term that refers to echolalia. “To infinity…and beyond!” is an example of a script from media. “See you later alligator” is an example of a script that may be heard in conversation. When children are “scripting”, they may be observed reciting dialogue from a TV show, singing lyrics from a YouTube song, or copying phrases they’ve heard other people use. The message is often identical to the source where they heard it, and has the same melody.
“GLP” stands for Gestalt Language Processing. This is a form of language development where children learn the meaning of language in chunks first, then over time learn to break the chunks down and formulate their own original language.
Let’s bust some myths:
Are most autistic children GLPs? YES!
Does being a GLP automatically mean a child is on the Autism Spectrum? NO! Some neurotypical children learn language via chunks as well.
Unsure if your child may be a “GLP”? Here are some common signs:
1. They echo back what you say or the last part of phrases you say, without appearing to process the language.
2. They have difficulty answering questions in conversation.
3. They like to hum or sing songs rhythmically.
4. They have a preference for intonation-rich sound input, such as music or videos.
5. They replay certain portions of video clips over and over.
6. They like to repeat play scenes in the same way over and over.
7. They like to play with the WHOLE set – if a figurine is missing, they are not pleased. They are seeing the world in a “gestalt” way.
8. They like to label objects they see around them and can recite their ABCs or count 1-2-3, though have trouble using their language to ask for help or communicate other important functions.
I think my child is a GLP… Now what?
1. Find a Speech-Language Pathologist near you that has been trained in Gestalt Language Processing. They can help determine which stage of the Natural Language Acquisition framework your child is in and give tailored advice on how to support your child’s language development at home.
3. Take a look at free resources on the website www.meaningfulspeech.com. If you have extra time, consider taking Meaningful Speech’s parent friendly course.
4. Check out Marge Blanc’s book, “Natural Language Acquisition on the Autism Spectrum. The Journey from Echolalia to Self-Generated Language.”
Things to Keep in Mind:
- Echolalia is not just a “stimming behavior” that should be ignored, decreased or extinguished… Echolalia communicates.
- We should acknowledge children’s scripts by nodding our heads or repeating back what they say, even if we are unsure what they mean.
- Speech therapists are here to help!
By Julia Navarra MA CCC-SLP