We are all different in so many ways – but did you know that there is more than one way in which we can develop language?
Many of us start with small building blocks – single words and single sounds. We are ‘word babies’ – we say ‘b’, and then ‘ball’, and then ‘ball go!’. This is called ‘Analytic Language Processing’.
But some of us start with large building blocks – the tune of a whole phrase. We are ‘intonation babies’ – we start by copying the tune of a whole phrase, and then gradually learn to break the tune down into sounds and words. This is called ‘Gestalt Language Processing’.
We can develop language using either of these developmental processes – they both lead to the same place, and many of us won’t know which path we followed.
But both language development processes can also get ‘stuck’. That’s where Speech and Language Therapists come in – when the process gets stuck and children need a hand to move on – we can help.
We know that different language development needs different support. ‘Word babies’ and ‘intonation babies’ are on different pathways to the same place, and they need the right support to help them get there!
Children who are Gestalt Language Processors might start by singing, or using long strings of sounds which you can’t understand. You might hear the same ‘tune’ over and over again. They might copy, or echo, words and phrases which they hear on media or which they hear you say, using the same intonation every time. Our first step is to recognise this as communication, and be a detective – trying to work out what they are communicating using these ‘tunes’.
Natural Language Acquisition is a therapy process which has been developed to support children who are Gestalt Language Processors. A number of Soundswell Speech and Language Therapists have recently attended training on this, and we are excited to continue the journey with the children we support.
Written by: Abi Varley, NLA Trained Clinician