Studies have found that teachers typically allow only 1.5 seconds to respond after asking questions. However, research conducted by Mary Budd Rowe found that when teachers embed more wait time there are significant benefits in the quality and attitude of responses.  “When teachers wait for three seconds or more, especially after a student response, there are pronounced changes in student use of language and logic as well as in student and teacher attitudes and expectations.” (Mary Budd Rowe quoted in Cazden, 2001, p. 94)


Wait time means pausing after asking a question before expecting answer.




Since students with autism often have a delay in language processing, wait time is important. Extending wait time to 45 seconds reduces processing demands placed on students and allows time to consider what has been communicated and to formulate a response. This in turn increases accuracy of response and increases the number of respondents.  A 45 second wait time is recommended for optimum processing – however any wait time you can provide will make a difference!


The next time you ask a question, PAUSE for 45 seconds and let your students think.


You can read more about using wait time in the classroom by clicking HERE

or to read Mary Budd Rowe’s study click HERE


Post by Allison Graham-Brown, Director of Professional Development ASD Nest Support Project.