Supporting Gestalt Language Processors in the School Setting

Dec 21, 2022

Ideally, we would see all gestalt language processors (that need support) in an individual setting but, for school speech-language pathologists, teachers, and other support staff, that’s not always possible. We can still support gestalt language processors in schools by focusing on the environment, our interactions and our relationship with the student. 

Tips for Speech-Language Pathologists in the School Setting

We understand that many school speech-language pathologist caseloads are huge and many gestalt language processors have to be seen in groups in order to service all children on your caseload. Gestalt language processors are best supported in a natural way. That means it’s really more about the environment, how it’s set up, how you interact, and the communication centering around relationships. It’s less about the activity or what you actually do. Here are some ideas for groups: 

  • Sensory, Movement or Gross Motor Activities

Have the group get together and explore a variety of sensory opportunities. The children can choose sensory experiences that appeal to them individually while the clinician’s language naturally focuses on commenting, narrating, and making observations about the sensory play including likes/dislikes.  

Examples: Obstacle courses, sensory bins, trampoline

  • Go for a group walk 

This is a great way to incorporate movement and make observations about sights, sounds, and new locations you can explore. 

  • Have a “dance party” 

Incorporate music (Most GLPs are very musical), movement and lots of motivating/fun natural language about different songs they will pick transitions (one song to the next), sensory language (“it’s too loud” or “let’s take a break” if they are overstimulated). 

  • Create a “book club” 

 Great for children who are hyperlexic, love drawing, and/or have similar interest in characters. You can make the focus of the group either the clinician reading the books, individuals creating a book themselves, or cutting out pictures or drawing pictures to go with gestalts. 

  • Create a similar interests group 

You can pair or group children together based on similar interests. This will allow more natural opportunities for language models, shared joy, and child-led therapy. Examples: lego club, animal group, train team 

Tips for Teachers and Support Staff in the Classroom

  1. Don’t try to eliminate or extinguish their scripting/gestalts. Echolalia communicates!
  2. Acknowledge their scripts and accept it as communication. You can acknowledge them by smiling, nodding your head, repeating it back to them, or saying “yea” or “ok”. Do this even if you can’t understand the script or it’s been labeled as jargon. 
  3. Try to eliminate questioning as much as possible as a form of connection and interaction. Try using declarative language instead. Comment, narrate, and pause. Most gestalt language processors aren't ready to answer questions reliably until they’re self-generating language (Stages 3-4+).
  4. Don’t take scripts literally. Most aren’t literal. Try to find the meaning behind them. Most are linked to a dramatic or emotional experience for the student which made it stick. Talk to those that are close to the child to help you investigate and understand the meaning such as caregivers, their school or private speech-language pathologist, other members of the child’s team, etc. 
  5. Work with the child’s speech-language pathologist in order to understand how to individualize and what your gestalt language processor needs in the classroom. 
  6. Consider getting staff together to make a plan to learn more about GLP and the Natural Language Acquisition (NLA) framework through a book study using the Natural Language Acquisition by Marge Blanc (, or taking the Meaning Speech course for professionals ( There are group discounts available for 3+ people. 

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

  1. There are many free podcasts, webinars and articles to get you started. A comprehensive list of resources can also be found on our website

  2. Consider taking the Meaningful Speech course to learn more about how your child or client processes language and how you can help move them from echolalia to self-generated (original flexible) language. 

  3. Consider joining the waitlist for our new AAC + Gestalt Language Processing course that will be released in February of 2023! It will teach you how to identify, evaluate and support gestalt language processors who use AAC. 

  4.  Look for a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who "gets it" and can help you in supporting your child's language development. Check out our registryfor SLPs who understand gestalt language processing and child-led therapy.

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