Samantha has difficulties with oral language. She does not have any hearing problems, but she is often unresponsive when others speak to her. On the rare occasions that she talks, she never uses more than one or two words. She struggles to express herself through language, and cannot formulate complete sentences. As a result, Samantha appears shy, or disinterested. Her parents have been told that she has developmental disabilities, and exhibits symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. Despite seeing a few speech therapists for help, and trying some programs designed specifically for early childhood language development, Samantha’s parents continue to see her frustration as she struggles to express herself. They fear that she really does have a developmental disorder, and will never be able to speak in complete sentences or include herself in social interactions.
Samantha's oral language difficulties are very common. Many children and adults experience problems when processing and responding to spoken language. Additionally, they often struggle to express themselves verbally. These kinds of comprehension and expression difficulties are not disabilities - they are symptoms. And, the root cause of these symptoms is usually a weakness in concept imagery.
Concept imagery is the ability to consciously create and access mental representations of the language that we see and hear. Many children and adults who are thought to have developmental language disorders are able to read and hear language. However, like Samantha, these individuals struggle to process that language into an organized, useable gestalt (whole) and, thereby, have difficulty connecting and responding to social interactions. For example, a child who loves animals may know exactly what a tiger is; but, because she does not image the gestalt of "tiger," when asked what it is, she may only respond with "stripes" - if she responds at all.
A weakness in concept imagery can often result in difficulties with language processing, verbal expression, and social interaction. These language difficulties often manifest through the following symptoms:
- Difficulty with general verbal and non-verbal expression
- Difficulty formulating sentences
- Difficulty following directions
- Apparent disengagement or frustration
- Symptoms of autism spectrum disorders
The Talkies® program helps children and adults develop the sensory-cognitive function of concept imagery. Unlike most speech, language, and comprehension programs, Talkies directly applies concept imagery to the comprehension and expression of oral language. As a primer to the Visualizing and Verbalizing® program, Talkies instruction takes students through a series of simpler, smaller steps to develop mental imagery as a base for language comprehension and expression. Talkies instruction may be of particular benefit to children and adults with prior, third-party diagnoses of expressive language delays or autism spectrum disorders.
It is common for children and adults to gain years in oral language comprehension and expression from just weeks of intensive instruction. Developing the imagery-language connection through concept imagery is necessary to becoming an independent communicator, which is an essential aspect of everyday life. And, the process-based instruction provided by the Talkies program has proven successful for individuals exhibiting symptoms of hyperlexia, ADHD, ASD, CAPD, and other learning difficulties.