Module 3: The Jump
Learning to use The Jump with other people
Reading aloud to other people
Most people who stammer usually produce at least some blocks when reading aloud to other people, so reading to other people should afford at least some opportunities to practice jumping over real blocks.
Start reading to just one person—someone you know well and who knows what you are trying to do. Then later, after you’ve become confident using The Jump when reading to just one person, try using it when reading to a small group of people (if you get the opportunity). If you belong to a stammering self-help group, you may be able to arrange some suitable opportunities to read to them.
Importantly, when practicing The Jump while read aloud to other people, make absolutely sure that you employ it correctly and that as soon as you realize you are blocking, stop and let go. You must be very strict with yourself, otherwise it won’t help you.
In the beginning you may find yourself blocking on every word—and having to jump over sounds in every word you try to say. If this happens, it’s absolutely fine—just carry on jumping and carry on gently moving forward. Don’t worry about whether or not the listeners have understood you. In these practice exercises there is no reason to go back and try problem sounds again, even if the listeners have not understood any of what you have said.
In our experience, generally the biggest obstacles to success in employing The Jump when reading (or for that matter in conversation) are students’ own reluctance to abandon trying to say the sounds they are stuck on and their tendency to use too much force.
Abandoning sounds may feel like avoidance and like accepting failure, and it may seem to run contrary to our desire to say the word as well as possible before moving on. To overcome such reluctance, it is important to have a clear understanding of the theory behind The Jump. In particular, try to remember that the purpose of The Jump is to enable you to gently move on from blocks after they have occurred, with the minimum disruption to the forward flow. Consequently, when practicing The Jump with other people, the production of fluent speech is not an indication of success. On the contrary, the more you block during these exercises, the better. “Success” in the context of these exercises means, blocking and then being able to get going again with a minimum of disruption. It may help to explain this to your listeners before you start.
Using too much force
For The Jump to work, you need to be wary of the tendency to use too much force. People who stammer often believe that if they just tried a bit harder, they would be able to speak without stammering. Unfortunately, “trying harder” often translates into using more force, and consequently, the use of excessive force becomes a habit. Speaking, and jumping should be relatively effortless. The main effort required for jumping is simply to remember to do it! A side-effect of using too much force is the tendency to produce unnecessary glottal stops, especially before vowels. Glottal stops can precipitate further blocks, and can impede your ability to get started again after jumping over a block. See our info on glottal stops for a full explanation of this issue.
Using The Jump in Conversational Settings
The Jump does not require any prior preparation, and you only need to utilize it when you find yourself blocking. Consequently, it is ideally suited to use in conversational settings which, by their nature, are unpredictable and difficult to plan for in advance. When you become proficient at using The Jump, you will find yourself doing so spontaneously and automatically, which means that you remain free to focus your conscious attention and efforts on what you want to say, rather than on how to get through it without stammering.
If your overt stammering symptoms are only mild, you may well find that you can use The Jump in all speaking situations right from the start. However, for people whose symptoms are more severe, a common difficulty when first learning to use The Jump in conversation is in remembering to use it before any secondary symptoms (like stalling, avoiding, pushing, and repeating) start to occur. Once such secondary symptoms have started to occur, it becomes more difficult to employ. Bearing this in mind, if your stammering is relatively severe, you may find it helpful when you are first beginning to use The Jump, to focus initially just on employing it in relatively easy conversational settings. So, for example, in casual settings in which you are not trying to say anything complicated, where there is no expectation for you to speak particularly “well”, and where you are only likely to stammer relatively mildly. Also, you will probably find that some conversation-partners are easier to use The Jump with than others, so start using it on the easy conversation partners first. Once you have become proficient at using it in these relatively non-demanding situations, you can then expand its use into more difficult situations and with more difficult conversation partners.
Irrespective of whether or not you are trying to use The Jump in all conversational situations, when you first start using it, make sure that when you find yourself blocking on a sound, you really do let go completely before then starting up again from the next sound or word. The post-block pause need only be a fraction of a second, and when you get more experienced, you will find you can reduce its length to the point where it is essentially unnoticeable. But there must always be enough of a break to ensure that you are not still trying to join the two sounds (the problem-sound and the sound that comes after it) together.
How much to jump
Ideally, when using The Jump, after having made a post-block pause, it is best to try to start speaking again from the next sound. In longer words this will usually mean that you will re-start a bit further into the same word, and it is generally very easy for the listener to recognize what the word is that you are saying. So, for example, with a word like banana, if you experience difficulty with the /b/, the remainder of the word /nana/ is still very distinctive. However, with short, monosyllabic words, jumping over the initial sound can make it harder for the listener to understand. Luckily, stammering is most likely to occur on the longer words, so most instances of jumping do not cause difficulty with understanding.
With shorter words beginning with vowels, most commonly the vowels themselves are diphthongs, meaning that they are really two vowel sounds stuck together. So, with such words, it is possible to jump over just the first part of the vowel and re-start from the second part. (see our examples of how to do this on “I” and “a”)
What to do when The Jump doesn’t work
It is important to understand and accept that The Jump doesn’t always work as well as we would ideally like it to. There are several things that can go wrong:
The two most common problems are:
(1) stammerers sometimes find themselves unable to start speaking again after jumping over a block;
(2) listeners fail to recognize a word you have jumped over.
If you find yourself unable to start speaking again after jumping over a block, just jump again to the next sound or word in the phrase you are trying to say. Keep jumping forward like this until you get to the end of what you want to say. Then, if the listener hasn’t understood you, go back to the beginning of that phrase and say it again using Orchestral Speech.
Integrating The Jump with Orchestral Speech.
Inevitably, when using The Jump, your speech will be a little disfluent and disjointed and occasionally, even when it works well, the listener may still fail to recognise what you have said. When this happens, you will need to repeat the phrase that the listener has failed to recognise.
At such times, rather than try using The Jump again, it can be more satisfactory to repeat the phrase using Orchestral Speech. For full instructions on how best to do this, go to the next page: Integrating The Jump with Orchestral Speech.
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