What is a Lisp?
A “lisp” is an articulation problem (or speech sound disorder) that results in difficulty pronouncing one (or more) consonant sounds. In most cases, a lisp is an inability or difficulty pronouncing the letter sounds “s” or “z.” The most common cause of a lisp is incorrect placement of the tongue within the mouth when speaking. This type of lisp is referred to as an Interdental lisp. Generally speaking, lisps are relatively common and normal in children during various stages of speech and language development. For some people, a lisp doesn’t improve as they age and the lisp persists into their adult years.
A lisp can not only affect an individual’s ability to communicate clearly and effectively but can also affect their confidence and self-esteem. Many people with a lisp may avoid certain social situations, public speaking, or other valuable opportunities. Working with an experienced speech and language pathologist is the best way to work toward eliminating a lisp. Get started with speech therapy by scheduling your free introductory call today!
Do Children’s Lisps Go Away? What Age Should a Lisp Go Away?
In most cases, a lisp is not a developmental issue, but an issue with the placement of the tongue both at rest and while speaking. This means that most children who speak with a lisp when they are learning to speak don’t grow out of it on their own. While studies have shown that it is possible for children to outgrow a lisp without the intervention of a speech therapist, this is not the norm. Most children who present with a lisp at a young age will continue to lisp until they receive the appropriate therapy for their speech patterns and learn the correct tongue placement when speaking.
For many problems with articulation in children, a speech-language pathologist may wait until the child is older and matures before targeting these problems in therapy. Giving the child the opportunity to develop their speech on their own as they grow and allowing the time for the oral motor muscles to strengthen is recommended. When it comes to a lisp in a child, however, most speech therapists recommend seeking supportive therapy for the child if the lisp persists beyond the age of 3. The earlier a lisp can be corrected in a child, the better the potential outcome. If the child’s lisp is ignored for too long, incorrect speech patterns and tongue placement become ingrained in the child’s brain functions and as a result, can be harder to correct. The sooner a child with a lisp can be seen by a speech and language pathologist, the better. Get your child started on the path to clearer speech by scheduling a free introductory call today!
At What Age is a Lisp a Problem?
While speaking with a lisp is relatively common and developmentally normal for children as they learn and grow in their speech abilities if a child’s lisp persists beyond the age of three, speech therapy is recommended and if a lisp is present beyond the age of seven, this can be cause for some concern. Seeking the support and guidance of an experienced speech pathologist is an integral part of helping a child overcome a lisp, and the sooner they can begin therapy, the better the outcome.
How is a Lisp Treated?
Thankfully, the majority of individuals who speak with a lisp can be treated with speech therapy and successfully eliminate their lisp over time. Speech therapy is the best resource when it comes to helping someone with a lisp, as its primary aim is to help the individual learn and master the correct production of the challenging speech sounds. Speech therapists are experts when it comes to helping people improve their speech and language skills, as well as identifying the underlying cause of the issue and the areas that are the most problematic.
How Does Speech Therapy Help with a Lisp?
Working with a speech therapist to remediate a lisp usually involves a gradual progression of skill development, focusing first on clearly producing the challenging sounds on their own (S and Z for example.) From there, the speech therapist will work with the individual to incorporate these speech sounds into a variety of sound combinations, words, and combinations of words. Breaking this down into smaller, more manageable steps helps the individual to maintain focus and not become overwhelmed or discouraged. How long this process takes varies between individuals and depends on the severity of the lisp, the age of the individual, the underlying cause, and how frequently they may be receiving therapy.
Speech therapy is highly goal-oriented and aims to bring awareness and encouragement to the areas that are most challenging to the individual, as well as facilitate mindfulness surrounding the related goals and ideal outcomes. Speech therapy for a lisp is often referred to as Articulation Therapy, and typically involves some specific strategies, exercises, and techniques that are specially selected by the therapist to target the area of difficulty. Each therapy plan is completely individualized and designed by the speech therapist to help the individual to reach their goals. This may include the use of visual, verbal, and tactile cues to appropriately model and illustrate how to correctly produce a certain sound, correct tongue placement, as well as how to properly incorporate that sound into other sound or word combinations.
Some of the other techniques that are often included in speech therapy for lisping are muscle strengthening exercises, learning to effectively pronounce specific sounds and words, and a more general approach to enunciation and articulation coaching and guidance.
If you or your loved one is struggling to identify or correct a lisp, connecting with a speech therapist is the most important, helpful, and effective first step. Eliminating a lisp not only means improving communication and clearer speech, but it also means boosted confidence and independence and better success in academic, professional, and social situations. Get started on your path to clearer speech by scheduling your free introductory call today!