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Pausing & Phrasing Technique

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

The pausing and phrasing technique affects timing. It involves teaching a person who stutters (PWS) to pause briefly at natural points in conversations (e.g. commas, periods, prepositional phrases). With this technique, the speaker is capitalizing on the natural flow of speaking to give the brain time to plan, and the speech machine time to produce speech without sounding odd.

Some additional important aspects of this technique :

> We want the person to feel comfortable with speaking, so using this technique in daily life is the speaker's CHOICE

> We want to help the speaker to communicate more EASILY - not necessarily to be 100% fluent

> In therapy, the goal is to help the PWS learn how to use this technique

> Again, it will be up to the speaker to decide when they want to use it in daily life


> Gives the speaker more control over the overall pace of communication

> Can reduce the feeling of time pressure to speak, thus decreasing the feeling of needing to rush their speech

> Decreases speech muscle tension

> Can increase confidence when speaking

> Increases flow of the conversation

> Increases the listener's understanding


You can start by asking the child if they know what "pausing" means. Engage in a discussion about what it means (e.g. leaving a brief pause between words) and what it looks like. Use visuals, like a stop sign to help the child visualize when to pause. You can use sentences, or cards to help illustrate (see pictures below).


Explain the purpose behind this technique - "We want to give your brain and mouth the time it needs to plan and speak more easily". You can then demonstrate for them what speech looks like without pauses while pseudostuttering (or stuttering if you are a PWS), followed by what speech looks like with pauses.


> With pre-readers, you can model the technique and use a visual, like a stop sign. Show the child a picture or video and ask them to make a sentence about what is happening. Then you can model the sentence with and without the pausing technique. Hold up the stop sign so that the child can not only hear you pause, but also visually see when you're pausing. You can ask the child to produce the sentence using the technique as well.

> You can also use cards (like the pictures above). If using cards, you can place each card face down. That way, each time the child goes to turn a card over, they will pause. You can build up to using pausing in sentences, to multiple sentences, to paragraphs, to short structured conversations, etc.

> With readers, you can start by having them read sentence strips with stop signs, and work your way up to paragraphs.

> You can also have discussions on when to pause. Talk about the natural places that we pause in our everyday conversations, like at :

  • commas

  • periods, question marks exclamation marks

  • prepositional phrases

  • clauses

  • conjunctions (e.g. and, but, because)

Give the student a sentence, and have them practice putting slash marks where they think they could pause. Again, work your way up from sentences to paragraphs, and so on.

For more information on this technique, check out this video from Stuttering Therapy Resources.

Check out this packet on Teachers Pay Teachers for awesome no-prep worksheets!

Sarah (:

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