About the presenter: Kathy Swiney, CCC/SLP, BRS-FD. A fluency specialist, author, and speaker, Kathy practices in two public high schools and private practice in Houston, Texas. The majority of the people on her caseload are teens and young adults who stutter. Kathy founded the Houston chapter of TWIST, an NSA support group for teens who stutter.

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2012.

Phrasing: One Tool Teens will Use (With Adaptations)

by Kathy Swiney
from Texas, USA

Working with teens who stutter in two large urban high schools has been challenging and rewarding giving me insight into the lives of today's teens. I learned far more from these remarkable teens than they learned from me!

In my clinical experience, teens are motivated to work on their speech if:

Phrasing as a treatment technique has been around since Van Riper. He used the technique in stuttering modification and advocated adding pauses when practicing cancellations as negative reinforcement for stuttering. More recently, Reardon & Yaruss (2004), Reitzes (2006; 2006b) and others recommend phrasing to slow the rate of conversation without slowing the rate of speech.

From a teen's perspective this is a subtle but very significant difference. Slow your rate of speech, and you are an oddball; slow the rate of conversation and you are in the company of the great speakers of the world.

The intervention strategy presented here was designed to provide an opportunity for teens to experience phrasing in a hierarchy of tasks. Starting with clinician-provided visual cues for the phrase points, the speaker gradually progresses toward the use of phrasing in spontaneous speech. In my clinical practice, this strategy has proven to be a popular and effective tool for teens. One client admitted he was helping his cousin in another city use the technique.

Hierarchal Phrasing Strategy for Teens:

Provide a visual model of phrasing until the teen gets the "feel" of where to insert phrases in his oral reading and speech. Start by having the TWS read text. The demands and capacity model (Starkweather, 1987) suggests that if the cognitive, linguistic and emotional demands decrease, a speaker's fluency often increases. Using printed material removes the demands of determining the topic, vocabulary and language format of an oral task.

Choose high interest topics for reading and speaking tasks. Select text that is below the teen's reading level even if you have to edit the text. The more teens focus on the "weirdness" of the topic, the less they focus on how they speak. This also tends to decrease speaking fears and increase fluency.

Initially, provide visual phrasing cues to further reduce the demands. Next, reduce and then eliminate these cues. Transition the phrasing technique into text and speaking situations in the teen's daily life (i.e. textbooks, oral reports, and casual social interactions).

Selecting the text

Find teen-friendly text by internet searching topics such as:

The following are articles I have used: Formatting the Text:

Adapt the text three times with three levels of visual cues for phrasing.