You may be questioning ‘will my child grow out of having a lisp?’ There are so many myths out there that it’s sometimes difficult to find your way out of a complex maze of information.
The good news: lisps can be successfully treated by a Speech and Language Therapist and the earlier it’s resolved, the better. We know from the evidence base that some children’s lisps will resolve and, as always, it is completely age appropriate to have this speech pattern up until aged 4 ½.
As with any speech and language targets your child will need to be motivated to practise their newly acquired techniques, at home and in other settings. They will eventually be able to generalise this skill, but it takes lots of practice. So, think carefully about if your child is ready and motivated before commencing Speech and Language Therapy.
There are essentially two ways in which your child has acquired a lisp. It’s key here to mention that parents have no blame in this.
- They’ve mis-learned it and now incorrect production has become a habit
- Children have difficulties organising the sounds to make a clear production
You may be surprised to realise that there are different types of lisps. But all the techniques will be the same.
- Interdental lisp
When your child pushes their tongue too far forward, they will make a /th/ sound instead of /s/ and /z/
- Dental lisp
This is where your child’s tongue pushes against their teeth
- Lateral lisp
Air comes over the top of the tongue and down the sides
- Palatal lisp
Your palate is the roof of your child’s mouth. Sometimes they will touch their palate when making certain sounds (e.g., /s/ and /z/)
It’s useful for you to know what type of lisp your child has because you can then support them to make the correct production. You’ll be able to talk about where in the mouth their tongue is and where it needs to be to produce a clear sound. Your Speech and Language Therapist will be able to help you with this.
Top therapy tips for lisps
- Awareness is key. Does your child know where their tongue and teeth are (i.e., are they behind their teeth)? Do they notice the air escaping? Use a mirror so that your child can see not only themselves but also you in the mirror.
- Repetition! As with most therapeutic intervention, practice makes perfect. So little and often is key!
- Make sessions fun, perhaps around your child’s interests or allow them to drink from a straw
- Comment on how the sound is produced (e.g., /z/ is like a bee, /s/ is like a snake)
- Use tactile cues. Your child’s vocal folds vibrate when they produce a sound like /z/ but not with /s/. You could use the words ‘loud’ and ‘quiet’ to describe this.
- Start with a /t/ sound and gradually elongate the sound to an /s/
Having a lisp may not be problematic for some, but for other children, it can have a significant impact on their emotional wellbeing. Intervening at an early age can prevent this from happening. We always advocate for early intervention!
Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.