Lisping is a common speech concern that can affect both children and adults. It’s characterized by difficulty in accurately producing sounds, especially the /s/ and /z/ sounds. While lisping is a typical developmental stage in young children, it can sometimes persist, causing communication challenges.
Lisping occurs when an individual has trouble articulating sounds correctly. The /s/ and /z/ sound are the most common sounds that children may produce a lisp on. Instead of the clear hissing or buzzing sounds associated with these phonemes, lisping may result in a distortion of these sounds, often sounding like a “th” sound or a more slushy variation.
As previously mentioned, lisping at 2 or 3 years of age can be a natural part of speech development; however as children’s speech mechanisms mature, they should outgrow lisping. However, in some cases, lisping may persist beyond this age range. Persistent lisping might be related to various factors, including tongue placement, dental structure, or muscle coordination.
Speech-language pathologists play a vital role in helping individuals overcome lisping challenges. The therapy process typically involves:
Assessment: A thorough evaluation by a speech-language therapist helps identify the specific type and severity of lisping, as well as the underlying cause of why this type of articulation error is occuring.
Targeted Exercises: Therapy sessions may include exercises that focus on tongue placement, lip positioning, and muscle strengthening and coordination to correct lisping. Myofunctional exercises are often utilized and successful in remediating an individual’s lisp as proper tongue resting posture, proper swallow pattern, and proper oral facial musculature will support the remediation of a lisp.
Articulation Practice: Speech-language therapists guide individuals through practicing correct /s/ and /z/ sounds in various words and sentences.
Visual and Auditory Feedback: Therapists use mirrors and audio recordings to provide real-time feedback, helping individuals monitor and adjust their articulation.
Home Practice: Practicing exercises at home reinforces the progress made during therapy sessions and accelerates improvement.
Spot Pal can also be a great tool in helping individuals overcome lisping challenges. Spot Pal improves articulatory precision of many lingual alveolar and lingual palatal sounds by supporting proper lingual placement at rest, when speaking, and when swallowing.
Bowen, C. (n.d.). Lisping – when /s/ and /z/ are hard to say. https://speech-language-