What do I need to do before assessing a suspected gestalt language processor?

assessment May 31, 2023

When assessing a child who you suspect is a gestalt language processor, language samples are our data! During assessments, we want to take spontaneous language samples and score these samples using the Natural Language Acquisition framework (Blanc, 2012). In order to accurately score these language samples, there is information you’ll want to obtain first. 

Gather a detailed history

Teaming up with those who know the child the most such as family members, teacher(s) and support staff is important to get you the detailed information you need to accurately score spontaneous language samples using the Natural Language Acquisition framework. We want to gather information about the child’s language history and the child’s interests. Having an intake form that can be sent to families to gather this information or used during initial parent interviews is especially helpful. We’ve created an intake form for school-based and private practice clinicians that includes questions to help you gather the detailed information you need. We’ve also included a clinician checklist for parent interviews to ensure you don’t miss any important questions. Not only do our intake forms include information that is helpful for clinicians but these forms also include instructions for parent use. 

Child-led Assessment & Language Samples

  • Language samples are our data. Standardized assessments are not appropriate for gestalt language processors until they’re in stages 4+. These assessments are not designed for gestalt language processors and do not take into account sensory, motor or motivational factors. Instead, we want to take language samples and score these samples using the Natural Language Acquisition framework (Blanc, 2012). That is our data for evaluations. If it is necessary for you to complete standardized assessments due to the setting you’re in or for qualification of services, this is important to keep in mind. It’s also important to let parents/caregivers know this too. You might consider explaining this to parents prior to the evaluation and also mentioning this in your report. 
  • Language samples should be spontaneous and child-led. These samples should be child-led, and should be spontaneous. This means we are not prompting the child. We want to take note of any gestalts the child frequently uses, and if possible, acquire home videos. Again, we can gather this information by talking to the child’s family, teacher (s), and support staff. It is helpful to create a “gestalt dictionary” that includes gestalts the child uses, the context they’re often used in and what we believe the child is trying to communicate with these gestalts. If possible, this should be done prior to your assessment of the child. 

What do our intake forms include?

Our intake forms are available for individual download (1 person), small clinic use (1-2 locations, 2-49 therapists), and large clinic/school district downloads (*Large clinics (3+ locations, 50+ therapists). All downloads include the following: 

  • Instructions, tips, and video introductions
  • Gestalt Language Processing Parent Questionnaire & Child Intake Form (10 pages)
  • Clinician Checklist for Gestalt Language Processing Parent Interview (2 pages)
  • Gestalt Language Processing IEP Parent Questionnaire (4 pages)
  • Gestalt Dictionary for all three sets of forms and instructions
  • Language Sample Recording form and instructions for parent use

Want to learn more in-depth information about how to support gestalt language processors?

  • Consider taking the Meaningful Speech course to learn more about how your child or client processes language, how you can help support them from echolalia to self-generated (original flexible) language, child-led therapy, and neurodiversity-affirming practices. 
  • Consider taking our AAC + Gestalt Language Processing course . It will teach you how to identify, evaluate and support gestalt language processors who use AAC or who you think might benefit from AAC.
  • Look for a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who "gets it" and can help you in supporting your child's language development. Check out our registry. for SLPs who understand gestalt language processing and child-led therapy.
  • Are you a school-based or private practice clinician looking for intake forms for new clients/students or creative visual reminder posters for your space? Check out the Meaningful Speech Marketplace.
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