You may notice that your child or young person finds certain sounds difficult to produce. With a lisp, the sounds /s/ and /z/ are more problematic. You may notice that your child’s speech is affecting their confidence. They are quiet, and the teacher reports they don’t engage in classroom conversations. You feel it’s impacting on their social and emotional wellbeing. The good news is that with the support of a Speech and Language Therapist and the determination and motivation of your child, we can treat a lisp can.
You feel you have so many questions and you don’t know where to begin. Let’s start by answering some of the most frequently asked questions.
1. Is it normal for my child to have a lisp?
It’s important to remember that we can expect a lisp in a child up until four and a half years of age.
2. Can I do anything for my child’s lisp?
The best approach you can take is to provide a good model. You can show the correct sound and you can talk about where in the mouth your tongue or lips are. Your Speech and Language Therapist can recommend you on what you can say.
3. Should I wait to see if my child’s lisp resolves on its own?
As always, early intervention is advised as producing sounds as a lisp can be more ingrained the longer your child waits for therapy. It is true that some children’s lisps resolve on their own.
Therapy depends on many factors, one of which is deciding on whether your child is ready for therapy. It’s best to seek advice from a qualified Speech and Language Therapist about whether your child is ready for therapy. It takes motivation, determination, and practice.
4. What should I expect from a Speech and Language Therapist when they see my child?
Your Speech and Language Therapist will ask you as parents and carers about your child’s history. This is because they’ll want to confirm it is a lisp and no other areas of communication are affected. They may ask your child about the impact of their lisp on them (if your child is aware of their speech difficulty).
They will then assess your child using a speech assessment. Your Speech and Language Therapist will confirm their findings and will put a plan in place with you.
5. How will my child’s therapist fix my child’s lisp?
- The start to fixing any sound is looking at discrimination between the sound your child is making vs the correct sound. Can your child hear the sound they should be making?
- Your therapist may still get your child to discriminate two sounds. They will begin to work on the sound in isolation, so saying the child’s tricky sound by itself (e.g., /s/)
- Then they will ask your child to say their tricky sound with a vowel, with a breath between the consonant and the vowel (e.g., s-oo, s-ow, s-ee, s-aa, s-ai)
- Your child will then remove the gap between (e.g., soo, sow, see, saa, sai)
- Your child will then be ready to move onto consonant-vowel-consonant words (e.g., sat, sit, seen, sown)
- Your child’s therapist will tell that the next step is to produce sentences using your child’s tricky sound, /s/ in this example (e.g., Simon says silly sausages)
- Your child is working towards generalising their ability but there are a few steps before this happens
- Choose a context where your child can practise their talking, focusing on one sound (e.g., during 10 minutes of special time). This is an ideal environment as you can create opportunities for your child.
- The next stage is saying the sounds correctly in general conversation
- You’ll want your child to be less reliant on you for modelling the sound, so you’ll want to start to phase this out
- It’s important for your child to self-correct and self-monitor. Encouraging this is the final stage to correcting your child’s lisp.
You and your child will need to be motivated, as it’s true: practice makes perfect!
For support on speech sound difficulties, feel free to contact me.
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.