In our daily lives, the way we carry out normal conversation might seem like an offhand and an effortless process but that’s not all true. Our conversations basically pass through precise informed movements of lips and tongue as well as heterogeneous work of muscle and nerve control including, larynx, which consists of vocal cords; and the respiratory system. Any change in this perfect rhythm can lead to a negative impact on our speech patterns.
Lisp is a very common speech impediment which for some can affect self-esteem and cause social anxiety, for some it is a celebrated feeling and for some, it hardly is a matter of concern. Since it is not health hazardous and has no effect on their gray matter what so ever, many tend to ignore the condition.
Types of Lisp:
A lisp is a speech disorder in which the subject has difficulty articulating sibilants s, z, and ch and j sounds.
There are generally four types of lisps
- The Interdental Lisp also called a Frontal Lisp, in which the tongue pushes forward through the front teeth, creating a th sound instead of /s/ or /z/ sound.
- The Dentalised Lisp, in which the tongue makes contact with the front teeth or rests against them (but does not protrude between them).
- The Palatal Lisp, wherein the tongue comes into contact with the soft palate, which is located at the far back part of the roof of the mouth.
- The Lateral Lisp means that air flows out of either side of the tongue making a slushy lip sound. It is also commonly known as wet lisp.
Child VS Adult Lisp Speech Disorders:
The causes can be either psychological or physical. But the reasons for speech impairment in adults and toddlers are slightly different. Lisps formed in early childhood are commonly due to tongue thrusts. The protrusion affects speech and swallowing which can lead to lisping. Lateral and palatal lisps are rare developmental errors and children with this type of speech impairment are less likely to “grow out of it”. If your child has a lateral or palatal lisp it is advised to see a speech therapist. Lisps in early childhood are formed due to
- Out of Habit
- For attention
- Dental procedures (that makes the words sound skewed)
- Oral deformity
Most lisps if left untreated can last into adulthood. The good news is that if the lisps are due to functional causes and not anatomical, higher chances are that this particular speech disorder is treatable at any age through speech therapies and dental treatments to make lisp less noticeable.
How to Get Rid Of Lisps:
In the majority of the cases, for growing children just learning to speak coherently, lisping is just a temporary phase and goes away after a certain age. However, if it’s not the case then the work of pathologist is to sever the sibilants and have the child practice them in a variety of contexts. The pathologist works on different kinds of lisps with unique techniques so that the specific treatment will vary in the plan.
It is better to get help from a professional or a speech-language pathologist who can assess and provide necessary treatments and therapy sessions. However, there itself-help program which can be done at home, and if done diligently can lead to successful results free of lisp. As the early intervention is the best intervention, let’s quickly find out what those exercises are.
Precautionary measures in Avoiding lisp:
- Thumb sucking can lead to lisp disorder. It’s extremely essential for you to retrain your child from sucking his thumb as much as possible for flawless speech development.
- Start using straw in his liquid intake; since you’re using your lips instead of putting pressure on your teeth, this kind of sucking motion promotes good oral-motor strength.
- Cure all types of allergy, cold, or sinus issues so your child can breathe freely with his lips together and through his nose. Work on nose blowing, too, as a stuffy nose is often the main reason of developing a lisp.
1. Analyze the Problem area:
The first and foremost job of any lisper or the speech and language pathologist is to identify the words creating lisp. In case you are having struggle with identifying, take guidance from people around you. They might guide you better. You can even record your voice to track where you are going wrong or use sound bites through the online dictionary to guide you. Getting to know the root cause of lisp is the beginning to impeccable language development.
2. Position of Mirror
Keep the mirror in a vivid and bright area of your room, so that it’s convenient for you to see your face while practicing sounds. Just smile in front of the mirror to have a better look at your teeth. You can pull your tongue slightly inverted while smiling and it will help you in pronouncing‘s’ in a proper way. This is a very simple technique and you must give it a try in the comfort of your home.
3. Practice Another letter to make S Sound:
Generally, the placement for T sound is the same for the S sound. According to Caroline Bowen Ph.D., a well-known speech-language pathologist, If the subject has trouble iterating the S sound, and then have the child say the T letter repeatedly and fast TTTTTTTTTT. Continuously repeating the letter T, the child will swiftly slide into S sound. Try it and you will see that the child has successfully cracked the code to produce the S sound.
4. Drinking With A Straw:
Speech pathologist encourages children with a lisp to drink liquids via a straw. The sucking motion is beneficial in two ways. Firstly it’s a great exercise to develop oral-motor skills and secondly, it makes you accustomed to the feeling of having your tongue retracted. It forces the tongue to pull back, rather than push forward and will strengthen his lips and cheek muscles.
Since a lisp is a tongue placement issue and muscle memory is often the greatest enemy in getting the treatment done. Hence involve such activities like blowing bubbles or balloons or shout out of a mouthpiece. This way the child will slowly and steadily learn to involve his lips and jaws and urge him to keep the tongue back in its place.
5. Practice S and Z sound:
Children with an interdental lisp can follow a rather classic approach of repeatedly saying S and Z subsequent times while keeping his teeth clenched. Stand in front of a mirror to have a clear view of how to keep the tongue behind your teeth while keeping it away from the roof of your mouth. Keep repeating the sounds 10 to 20 times. This exercise can be followed by repeating words starting with S or Z like Sneeze, bicycle recess to get the hang of accurate pronunciation of the said words.
These speech therapy exercises are beneficial for children but can be equally great for adults. You can even pair the articulation therapy for /s/ and /z/ with a straw drinking program to pull the tongue back since a forward tongue posture often contributes to interdental and decentralized lisps. The Straw drinking technique is also very helpful and effective in strengthening centralized airflow for children having a lateral lisp.
6. The Butterfly procedure:
The first question that arises is why this exercise is called a butterfly procedure. Well because the tongue has to imitate the position exactly like a butterfly. This exercise is relevant for lispers struggling to pronounce S sound. This technique requires you to place the sides of your tongue tilt upward like butterfly wings. This will allow you to keep the center of your tongue curved into a groove letting the airflow over it.
Keeping a hold on this position and let the child say the “ee” as in key or the “i” as in him. Then attempt for the S sound keeping the butterfly position with the tongue. Practice this technique 10 to 20 times. It is imperative that you hold on to the butterfly shape position of your tongue for the actual exercise to work effectively.
7. Speech Therapy With blended and broken syllables:
Place a “z” in front of a vowel-like “o.” Then, say “z” and “o” separately. This is a broken syllable. Try it again by saying the “z” and the “o” together. This is a blended syllable. Keep repeating broken and blended syllables 10 to 20 times to help repair your speech.
- You can also say words like “sax,” “lass,” and “tease.” Break them up into syllables and say each of the syllables gradually.
- Practice both the /s/ and /z/ in all different word positions.
It refers to testing when the sound is at the beginning, middle, and end of the word as well as in consonant clusters (blends) at the beginning and end of the word. Let the child practice words with the sounds in all of those contrasting places.
Only due diligence is needed for people with Lisp disorders who feel that this disorder can hamper their professional and social life. The language and speech pathologists can help them professionally improving their oral motor skills.