My Child Has a Lisp, Should I Be Concerned?

lisp treatment

My neighbor came to me about her 5 year old daughter wondering if she should be concerned about he daughter substituting her /s/ and /z/ sounds for TH sounds. I explained that this is known as an interdental lisp. Interdental lisps are often developmental disorders and usually resolve themselves by the age of 4 1/2. Anytime after 4 1/2 is a good time to seek the advice of a speech therapist. If the therapist feels your child is ready and would benefit from therapy, get started as soon as possible. The longer you wait the stronger the habit and the longer it will take to fix. Unfortunately, most school therapists are unable to treat lisps until the age of 7 or 8. Even worse, in some areas if the lisp does not affect the child’s education the speech therapists in the schools are not able to help the children at all. In these cases you may be on your own to find a private therapist for help.

What kind of lisp does my child have?

There are four kinds of lisps:


1. Interdental lisps
(when the tongue goes between your front teeth and makes the –th- sound for the /s/ and /z/ sounds).


2. Dentalized lisps
(when the tongue hits the teeth while making the /s/ and /z/ sounds).


3. Lateral lisp
(when air escapes out the sides of the tongue).


4. Palatal lisp
(when the tongue hits the soft palate while making the /s/ and /z/ sound.

Lateral and palatal lisps are not typical developmental errors and children who have these speech characteristics are less likely to “grow out of it”. If your child has a lateral or palatal lisp I would advise having your child evaluated by a speech therapist.

How do you train the correct production of /s/ and /z/ to a child with a lisp?

When training a child with an interdental lisp to say the /s/ and /z/ sounds I have followed what might be considered a traditional approach by simply teaching the child to keep his teeth closed when producing the /s/ and /z/ sound. After multiple successful repetitions of the /s/ with the teeth closed I introduce them to a list of 20 words ending with /s/ since the /s/ is generally mastered at the end of words first. After the child masters the list of 20 words I have them put those words into sentences and practice reading the sentences aloud. When the sentences are mastered I have the child read a story with multiple pictures or words ending with /s/. I continue to follow this outline as we practice /s/ and /z/ as it occurs in the initial and medial positions of words as well. Finally I have the client read aloud for 10-20 minutes working toward 80% accuracy or better. I conclude therapy once a client has mastered the correct production of /s/ and /z/ in all positions in conversation.

I often 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 dentalized lisps. Straw drinking also helps reinforce centralized airflow for clients with a lateral lisp. Some speech therapists don’t believe straw drinking is necessary but it has always been very successful technique for me and my clients.

When teaching the /s/ and /z/ sound to a child with a lateral lisp I have used a short straw placed at midline so the client could hear when the airflow was centralized. I have not found this approach to be very effective! It seems to take a long time for my clients to produce their first true /s/ sound. That is why I am so excited about the Butterfly Procedure by Dr. Caroline Bowen PhD, CPSP I read about on speech-language-therapy.com. With this approach, it just seems that teaching the /s/ to a client with a lateral lisp would be so much easier because they are able to visualize exactly what you want them to do with their tongue.

the butterfly procedure
The gist of the “Butterfly Procedure” is that the tongue imitates the position of a butterfly, with the sides of the tongue up slightly like butterfly wings, and the groove of the tongue the body. The sides of the tongue touch the teeth lightly while the airflow goes down the groove of the tongue or body of the butterfly instead of out the sides as it does with a lateral lisp. You achieve this position by having the child say the “ee” as in key, or the “i” as in him. Then try for an /s/ holding the butterfly position. I have a couple of clients I am so excited to try this with!

The other new exciting tip I picked up from Dr. Caroline Bowen PhD, CPSP is to train the /s/ from the /t/ sound. She outlines 10 easy steps to teach this procedure. To give you a quick idea she begins by having the child say the /t/ sound, and then the /t/ sound repetitively, for example /t-t-t-t-t-t-t/. When you do this exercise quickly you can feel a slight /s/ coming out. Cool, huh! Check out the other steps, they just make sense.

Great sites to read over:

I found a couple of sites that give good advice for parents. Hopefully they will help.

Lisping – speech-language-therapy.com (Great Article!)

Can I help Correct My Child’s Lisp? – Baby Center.com

Lisp- Definition and Much More- Answers.com

If you have any questions about your childs lisp or other speech issues feel free to comment and I will answer as soon as I can!


Heidi - Mommy Speech Therapy Heidi Hanks, M.S.CCC-SLP has been a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist since 2000. She graduated from Utah State University where she completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. She began her career in early intervention and eventually started her own private practice where she has worked primarily with pre-K through school age kids. She is the founder of Little Bee Speech, and is currently developing apps for speech and language. Heidi lives in Utah with her husband and 4 children.


101 Responses to “My Child Has a Lisp, Should I Be Concerned?”

  1. Melanie says:

    Wow wow wow!

    What a fantastic site! I have homeschooled for 13 years and have been able to correct our older children’s speech difficulties while they were learning phonics just by showing them very carefully how I make sounds. My seven year old, though is having an awful time making the “r” sound and my five year old has a terrible interdental lisp. Thanks so much for this terrific blog and your very clearly worded advice!

  2. Tori says:

    Hi!
    I am going to start working with my little girl who has what you described as an inderdental lisp. Where could I find some pictures of s and z words? Do you have a link I could download them from? It would save me a ton of time.

    Thanks so much!!!

  3. Shantel says:

    Hi, My son is turning three in October. He has a very good vocabulary and loves to talk. THerefore, I have noticed when he talks his tongue rolls in half sideways. Mostly when he says “s”"d”"z”. I know it sounds strange but for some reason he has a flexible large tongue. I am just wondering if he will grow out of it or if he needs to see a speech therapist.
    thank you
    -SHantel

  4. Heidi says:

    Hi Tori,

    I have some pictures of /s/ words on the down loads page http://mommyspeechtherapy.com/?page_id=55. I’ll try to get some /z/ words up soon.

    Good luck,
    Heidi

    • Andrea says:

      How many times per week should I work with my 5yr old son doing the excersises you listed? We homeschool and our insurance will not cover speech therapy for him after he had a screening and they said it wasn’t severe enough. These lessons look very helpful, just not sure how many times a week to work with on this. Thanks.

      • Heidi says:

        I usually recommend 3-5 times per week. The more frequently you do the exercises the quicker you will see progress. Good luck!

  5. Diana says:

    When you refer to a “straw drinking program”, are you simply meaning to have the child drink from a straw consistantly, or is there something else?

  6. Heidi says:

    Read my post on pacifiers and sippy cups: http://mommyspeechtherapy.com/?p=12, It explains the straw program. If you have any more questions let me know.

    Heidi

  7. Heidi says:

    Shantel,

    If your son is still rolling his tongue on the /s/, /d/, and /z/ sounds try teaching him to hold his tongue up on his alveolar ridge with some of the exercises I suggest in the article on /t/ and /d/. Then practice the /d/ sound all by itself again, encouraging the tongue tip up. If he is successful with this then practice the /d/ picture cards on the downloads page. If this works you can try the same exercises with the /s/ and /z/ and follow it with practicing the /s/ and /z/ cards.

    If you are unable to get a good /d/ sound take him to see a speech therapist.

    Good luck,
    Heidi

  8. Moe says:

    I am 27 years old male and i have a slight lisp. Can this be corrected through practice or is it too late ?

    Thanks

    • Heidi says:

      Moe,

      Definitely! It will be more challenging due to your age, but you may also be more committed than you would have been years earlier to the exercises. Find a Speech Language Pathologist that works with adults and go for it!

  9. Susan says:

    Heidi,
    Thanks so much for creating this site! I had an interdental lisp as a little girl, and now my youngest son has one as well. Since we homeschool, I can just incorporate therapy time into our school time Thanks again for the wonderful information and resources you provide! We cannot afford to take him to a therapist, but I believe we can make progress with the tools you have provided.

    Blessings on your day!

  10. Moe says:

    Heidi
    Is it something i can do at home in front of a mirror ? can i make it worse ? my tongue touches the back side of my teeth and blocks the flow of air completely.

    27 male

    Thanks

    • Heidi says:

      Moe,

      My first recommendation would be to see a speech pathologist. If you want to try it on your own first, do it. The only way you could make it worse would be if you tried to replace the incorrect sound with another incorrect sound. You want to make sure you can get a clean /s/ sound before you begin practicing it in words. Do anything you can to get the air flow to go down the center of your tongue.

      A few things you might try include stimulating the center of your tongue with a toothbrush before you begin practicing, place a straw down the center of your tongue to encourage central air flow. You may also try shaping the /s/ sound from the /t/ sound by putting your tongue tip up for the /t/ sound then slightly lowering it, allow air to flow over the tongue tip for an /s/.

      Let me know how it goes.

  11. Moe says:

    Heidi
    Thank you so much , You are an inspiration. I will try using these techniques.
    Have you heard about any adult having a complete success in curing a lisp ?

    Thank you

    • Heidi says:

      Moe,

      I work with children mostly, but I know adults can have the same success. Just the other day I was talking with a friend who was experiencing a lisp after having her bottom retainer removed. Her bottom teeth immediately began to move in and that’s when she began to notice a lisp. As we talked we realized that depending on the word sometimes she would make an /s/ with her tongue tip up, and sometimes she would make the /s/ with her tongue tip down. When she made the /s/ with her tongue tip up there was no lisp. She was so excited. She’s been focusing now on retraining herself to make the /s/ with her tongue tip up. It seems to be working.

      I know you can do it too!

  12. Moe says:

    The way i analyzed my problem with S letter is that i had a gap between my front two teeth (about 2.5mm) since as long as i remember. As i learned how to produce the S sound i used the gap as an opening for the air to escape and produce the hissing sound of S. The sound is more of a Whistling rather than a true Hissing.
    I got my gap closed at the dentist using filling couple of weeks ago. when the gap is gone, i noticed a lisp. The air has no place to escape no more since the gap is not there.

    I dont know what is more important , appearance of a healthy teeth and smile or a correct pronunciation.

    • Heidi says:

      Moe,

      It sounds like maybe you were making the /s/ sound with your tongue tip against your teeth, allowing the air to flow through the front teeth. Now that the gap is closed there is nowhere for the air to go. My recommendation would be to try moving your tongue tip back slightly away from your teeth. Then try practicing your /s/ again.

  13. Tracy says:

    Heidi,

    I never realized that my 9 year old daughter lisped until the assistant director of a play she was in mentioned it to me. It’s very mild, more of a slight hiss when she says “s” words. She noticed that she didn’t lisp when she sang, which seems interesting. After reading your website and others, I see that speech therapy might be a good idea, but how do I bring up the subject to my daughter without making her self-conscious? She has no idea that she lisps–no one has ever noticed or said anything. She’s a pretty confident kid, but I think if I said we are going to speech therapy, it might really shake her view of herself.

    Thanks

    • Heidi says:

      Tracy,

      I understand your concerns about suggesting to your daughter that she may have a lisp. The last thing we ever would want to do is shake the confidence of our children. Consider for a minute however how much easier it will be for her to hear it from you than from her peers down the road. Talk to her about what options she has available to her if she decides this is something she would like to work on. Explain to her that the sooner she gets help the easier it will be to fix. Most importantly remind her that you are there to support her in what ever she decides.

      I hope it all works out!

      • Adrienne says:

        Heidi (and Tracy), my 9-year-old son has a slight lisp that I never noticed either–until a new dentist mentioned it out to me this summer. I think his is classified as a “dentalized lisp.” I planned on contacting the school’s speech therapist but hadn’t gotten around to it since the first month of school is so crazy. But, yesterday afternoon, my son walked out of Sunday School class and said, Mom, a girl in my class says I have a lisp and I spit on her when I talk. Oh dear. I wish I had talked to him about it first.

        Heidi, I found your site through a Google search. Thank you for all the excellent information! I’ll get him help through his school, but I will also use your suggestions to help him at home.

        Thanks!

  14. Hanaa says:

    Thank you so much for all these information ,it helps me a lot.
    I think my daughter 4years old has interdental lisp.
    She protrude her tongue between her teeth with s sound.
    I tried to correct it ,but when she close her teeth and keep her tongue in,she pronouce the letter S like ch.
    Do i have to continue or i have to stop.
    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Heidi says:

      Hanaa,

      I would encourage you to keep trying. If she produces the /s/ like a ch when she closes her teeth she has her tongue too far back and she is stopping the flow of air which is necessary for a good /s/ production. First encourage her to bring her tongue tip forward, placing it on the alveolar ridge directly behind the front teeth. With her tongue in the right place and her teeth closed encourage her to allow the air to flow over her tongue in a continuous stream like water in a river. Have her hold up her hand so she can feel the constant stream of air.

      If this doesn’t work and you are you are feeling discouraged I would recommend that she see a speech pathologist that can work with her one on one. Interdental lisps can be remediated pretty quickly through treatment.

  15. Jamie says:

    I need help determining if my newly three year old has a speech impediment. He has always had a tounge thrust since infancy where he often poked out the tip of his tounge. He seems very intelligent, with a big vocabulary and articulates most sounds well. However, occasionally his speech is spitty such as described as a lateral lisp, but not all the time and not with most sounds. His tounge tip pushes through the front two teeth when he says a word that ends in s, but he makes the s sound correctly in some words that begin with s. The letter z also causes the th sound. My mainest question is could this be a lateral lisp, are their varying degrees of lateral lisps, and would it affect his mouth all of the time if it was a lateral lisp? Also could this be a tounge thrust as opposed to a lisp?

    • Heidi says:

      Jamie,

      If your son is in fact replacing the /s/ sound with a th sound it is likely he has an interdental lisp not a lateral lisp. Interdental lisps can be a typical developmental error. This error will usually correct itself by the time the child is around the age of 4. If it has not corrected itself by 4 1/2 I would encourage you to seek the help of a speech language pathologist.

      If you are still concerned however and want to do something now my recommendation would be to model for him the difference between an /s/ sound and a th sound and see if he can hear the difference. Try reading books with lots of /s/ sounds and overemphasize the correct production of /s/ as you read. Reinforce his accurate productions of the /s/ sound in the beginning of words and see if he can imitate it accurately at the end of words. If he can try practicing my final /s/ cards on my worksheets page.

      You may also want to encourage tongue retraction through straw drinking and blowing exercises such as blowing bubbles or blowing horns.

      Hope this helps!

  16. jenya says:

    I have an almost 5 year old boy who has lateral lisp. He just started his speech therapy, and I was wondering what are success rates to correct the problem. Some of the forums I read sound very discouraging.

    • Heidi says:

      Jenya,

      You are doing the right thing putting him into therapy now. Starting therapy early will make correcting the problem so much easier for him. Just do whatever you can to support the efforts of your speech pathologist by following through with any home practice that may be suggested. It has been my experience that children that get into therapy early for lateral lisps have a very good success rate. I’m sure you will find the same thing.

  17. Val says:

    Dear Heidi,

    I just want to tell you what a tremendous help this web site has been for my son and me.

    My 13-year old son developed a slight lisp after a retainer was removed from his lower teeth. Although it was mild, it was noticeable enough to attract mocking from some kids at school. He absolutely refused to see the school speech therapist for fear of being picked on even more, since among his peers, being one of the “speech kids” has its own stigma attached (but I won’t get into the many criticisms I have of his school here).

    After waiting and hoping for about a year for him to “grow out of it,” I decided something had to be done. As a first step, I thought I’d do what I could myself for a while and if he didn’t improve, I’d take him to a speech therapist outside of school.

    In this website, I found the information on how to work with him to resolve the problem. I came up with a script of words and sentences to practice, and he and I worked together daily on practicing proper pronounciation.

    After three months, his lisp is gone! I can’t believe how quickly he improved. I am so happy and relieved. I know that speech problems are complex and many people need a professional speech therapist to resolve their problems, but this worked for us. I just had to thank you for making this information available and to let you know how much it helped us.

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

    Sincerely,
    Val

    • Heidi says:

      Val,

      It does my heart good to hear stories like yours. I have always believed that the very best therapist is the one who is with the child all the time. It has been my goal to empower parents with the information they need to make what difference they can. You are an exceptional example. You did it! I hope your story inspires other moms to give it a try as well. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Angelica says:

    Hi. My daughter is 2 yrs 8 months and she has a lisp. Her little tongue comes out past her front teeth when saying words that have s’s and t’s in them and even saying words like “outside”, seems like she lisps alot. What kind of lisp is this called? Also, she has been sucking her thumb since she was four months old and he two front teeth stick out a bit. I feel so guilty that I did not stop this habit and maybe this habit has caused her lisp. Does thumbsucking cause lisps? If we work on stopping the thumb sucking will her lisp go away? I know a few other little thumb suckers in my daughters preschool and their teeth don’t stick out and they don’t seem to have a lisp, so I’m wondering why my little girls teeth were affected. Should I take her to a speech therapist now or wait? thanks.

    • Heidi says:

      Angelica,

      It sounds like your daughter has an interdental lisp because her tongue is coming out past her teeth. The thumb sucking can definitely be a contributing factor to her lisp. I would encourage you to discourage her thumb sucking. Given that she is only 2 1/2 this may just be enough to help her overcome her lisp. However, if her lisp continues into the ages of 3 1/2 or 4 with no improvement I would recommend you seek the help of a speech pathologist. Good luck!

  19. Renee says:

    Heidi,
    My 4 1/2 year old daughter has an interdental lisp, and I find this site to be amazing! I will start working with her ASAP! However, she also can not pronounce the “fl” sound. instead of “floor”, she says “thloor”. Is that a lisp, or do you think I may have bigger problems. Just curious of youi opinion…Thanks

    • Heidi says:

      Renee,

      It may be that your daughter is replacing sounds that are difficult for her with the th sound. Typically that is considered an interdental lisp. You may want to begin by targeting the incorrect production of the /f/ sound. Teach her to bite her lower lip, and then blow for a correct production of the /f/ sound. After she is successful producing the /f/ sound in isolation have her add the /l/ sound to it. Then once she is successful with that try putting it in the word “floor.” Once you have success correcting any mispronounced /f/ sounds you will want to begin targeting those /s/ and /z/ sounds she likely struggles with.

      • Anita says:

        Hi Heidi,

        Your website is fantastic!
        My daughter is 4 1/2 yrs old and has a lisp. She’s just started speech therapy.
        I’ve tried correcting my daughter’s speech during the day but sometimes she’ll co-operate and other times she won’t.
        How do you get a child to repeat the word back without making them feel self-conscious?
        How long does it normally take to correct a lisp, if in therapy she can say the ‘s’ and ‘z’ sounds back in isolation?

        • Heidi says:

          Anita,

          It sounds like you are on the right track putting her into therapy You mentioned that she can say the /s/ and /z/ sound in isolation during therapy. It is likely that your SLP is now practicing the /s/ sound with your daughter in syllables and maybe even words during therapy as well. Follow up at home by practicing on the level your daughter is at in therapy, either in syllables or words. Do this at a specified time. Tell your daughter it is time to do her speech homework and practice her words. When time for speech homework is up, don’t correct her speech any more. Depending on the child, too much correction can make them self conscious. That is why it is better to set aside a certain amount of time each day to practice the sound. Once your child has mastered the sound in therapy, then you can correct her at home when she misses the sound.

          I hesitate to put a time line on correcting your daughter’s lisp since every child is different but, if you and your child are committed to working on correcting her lisp and she is consistent about doing her speech homework you should see positive results rather quickly. Having said that I consider continuous progress positive results. If your daughter gets hung up, and doesn’t seem to be making progress that is when I would be asking questions to see what I could do to help her get over the hump and make progress again.

          I hope this helps.

  20. Monique says:

    Hi! my daughter is gonna be 6 next week and my husband and I are growing more and more concerned with her lisp. We’re still not sure what type of a lisp she has. She has an underbite and since she was able to go to the dentist ive brough it up to them several times. They dont seem to be too concerened about it at all right now. They said once she gets in all her adult teeth, then they’ll fix the problem with braces and and head gear??? but 1) we dont wanna wait that long and 2.) We’re starting to notice that her speech impediment, we think is being caused by the underbite. Can you tell me if an underbite does cause a lisp and if so, what kind of a lisp, it is considered? The word “south” she struggles with saying both the ‘s’ and ‘th’ sound. but other words that start with ‘s’ or ‘th’ she doesnt have any problems pronunciating. So, im very confused as to what to do and where to go if the dentist doesnt want to do anything this early. i scheduled her a doctors appt for tmrw, so im curious to hear what they have to say, but im affraid their gonna turn me back to the dentist because of her underbite :(

    • Heidi says:

      Monique,

      Without seeing your daughter it is hard to say if the underbite is causing the lisp. If your daughter is struggling with both the /s/ and the TH it is likely that she has a lateral lisp meaning the air is escaping out the sides of her tongue. Braces and headgear may or may not help. If it is indeed a lateral lisp you need to work on central air flow, or air going down the center of her tongue. Try scheduling an appointment with your school SLP or a private Speech Language Pathologist in your area to find out exactly what is going on and what you can do to help.

  21. Charlotte says:

    Hi, I’m 15 and have a lisp. I came across this website when i was trying to find out if I’d ever grow out of my lisp. I think it’s a palatal lisp as when I say words with s in comes out sssh. It disheartens me to see so many people concerned with how their children speak. I know of at least 8 people in my year at school who have a lisp and nobody ever says much, just the occasional comment from some of our peers.

    I really don’t understand what the big deal is, why should society decide the right and wrong ways to speak? Why can’t they just accept how people speak instead of trying to correct it, people don’t try and change accents do they? So why do people try to change lisps? Its just an excuse to be more critical of people.

    Subsequently, I told you in the above that I am 15 (year 10). When i was younger my lisp was worse and some people found it hard to understand me, but without any speech people it got better. I didn’t even know I had a lisp until year 3, when a boy in my class told me, I’ll admit that some people would make fun of me, but it’s just something you ignore, I meant young children are like that but they soon mature. I don’t understand why mothers are so concerned with their children having a lisp, they should have their children doing sport- keeping fit or playing with their friends instead of trying to change themselves, just because you think it’s wrong to talk like that, even though many famous people have lisps and nobody tried to change them did they?

    I when I’m older wish to be either a school teacher or a skating coach. I’m worried that if parents now are so concerned about their children having a lisp that they wouldn’t want somebody that can influence them alot having a lisp. At the moment I help out at the rink, teaching people to skate and none of the younger children say anything about it or even the people my own age.

    So I ask you what’s your opinion, I wont be offended I just want to know the point of view of somebody who is trying to ‘cure’ people of their lisp.

    • Heidi says:

      Charlotte,

      If I understand you correctly you want to know if you will grow out of your lisp. At the age of 15 it is unlikely that you will overcome your lisp without some kind of intervention. Having said that, you are absolutely right, there is no need to fix it if you are happy with the way you speak. Unfortunately, you will likely run into people over the course of your life that may judge you negatively because you have a lisp. I hope that is not the case for you.

      I imagine as a skating coach it is your job to help those who desire to skate better become better skaters. It is the same thing for me as well as other speech therapists. We help those who desire to speak more clearly, to do so. Often I work with children whose articulation is so bad they are unintelligible to their family and friends. It is frustrating for them not to be understood. Teaching them to speak clearly opens up a world of communication for them. I have many clients that bring their children to me because they want to help their kids learn to articulate clearly so they won’t be teased. Some of my clients are teenagers. They know what if feels like to be teased and they don’t like it. They want to change their speech, so I help them. It is such a good feeling to see how proud they are of themselves when they learn to speak more clearly and the difference it makes in their self confidence.

      I hope I’ve been able to give you a perspective on why most parents and speech therapists make it a priority to help children speak clearly. Basically, we want our kids to be happy and give them the best start possible. Helping them effectively communicate can be a large part of what gives our kids the confidence they need to do their best in the life ahead of them. I know you can be successful even if you speak with a lisp, but know that if you have the desire to change your speech you can.I wish you the best!

      • Charlotte says:

        Thankyou for your perspective on things I appreciate it. I was wondering though about if I did want to get rid of my lisp hound go about it as I will admit it can be rather problematic sometimes as I worry when I meet new people what they’ll think of me, so do you have any tips?

        • Heidi says:

          Charlotte,

          I know you can get rid of your lisp with some dedicated practice if that is your desire. I would recommend you first try to access speech therapy services. If you are not able to take advantage of speech therapy then I would give you the same recommendation I gave Cheren to try “Speech Buddies” for the /s/ sound. With this tool you may be able to train yourself how to say the /s/ sound correctly. If you can successfully say the /s/ sound correctly all by itself then try practicing the /s/ sound with my /s/ worksheets found on the worksheets page. Also review the post above for any additional tips. Good luck!

      • Cheren says:

        I also hate the feeling to be teased by my colleagues and even by my professors who, by profession, should educate students to be better persons and not laughing about my bad trait. Not until when I was in college, I try to find solution for my lisp problem. and I feel hopeless when I discovered that I lisp because of my bad trait when I was young.. and that is thumb-sucking. I have developed an open-bite teeth and I am now trying to fix it with braces. I don’t know if my teeth will be fixed, so as my speech.

        • Heidi says:

          Cheren,

          I’m sure it is frustrating to be teased. No one should ever be laughed at because of their differences. By what you have described it sounds like you may have an interdental lisp. If you are able to access speech therapy services I truly believe they could help you overcome your lisp if that is your desire. If you don’t have access to speech therapy services I would recommend you try “Speech Buddies” for the /s/ sound. With this tool you may be able to train yourself how to say the /s/ sound correctly. If you can successfully say the /s/ sound correctly all by itself then try practicing the /s/ sound with my /s/ worksheets found on the worksheets page. Though it won’t be easy, I believe you can change your speech with some dedicated practice.

  22. Nicole says:

    My 7 year old daughter still has her tongue between her teeth when saying the /s/ and /z/ sounds. I’ve worked with her periodically and she can physically do it correctly. But she gets very aggravated with me when I try to have her practice it correctly or if I remind to say her /s/ correctly. She says she doesn’t care if she says it incorrectly. She has no interested in working on it. Is there anything I can do at this point or do I wait until she does want to change it (but then it’s even harder)?

    • Heidi says:

      Nichole,

      You pose a good question. In order for your daughter to really be successful she needs to be self-motivated. But before you decide to just wait awhile, try to figure out what motivates her. In the words of Dr. Phil, figure out what her currency is. My children for example will do almost anything to earn movie time or a trip to the dollar store. If it were my daughter I may promise her a trip to the dollar store if she can practice her /s/ words everyday for a week. Sit with her while she practices and encourage her. When she is not practicing, discipline yourself not to be critical of her speech. Remember, until your daughter can say the sound correctly at the word level, sentence level and story level she does not have the skills to say the sound correctly in conversation. Correcting her in conversation before she has mastered these steps will be frustrating for both of you.

      I hope this is helpful. Let us know how it goes.

  23. Rachel says:

    I was looking at your worksheets and it looks like the link to the s sound stories have been lost. Could you please point me in the right direction. Thanks so much!
    Rachel

    • Heidi says:

      Rachel,

      I am so sorry. I actually haven’t gotten around to creating stories for the /s/ sound in the medial and final position. As soon as I get them up I will let you know.

  24. Kal says:

    Hi Heidi, good thing i came across your website.My 3.5yr old daughter has a lisp and am gonna get down to the worksheets you posted(they look workable).However she has problems with other alphabets such as F , J and “Tion” ie mention, conversation. Do you have any therapy for that?Even saying her name which ends with “sha” she says “ta”. Husband and I are both thinking of going to a speech therapist. Should we? or should we wait for another 6 months and see how she does with the progress of the worksheets and proceed from there?Desperately looking forward to your opinion.Thanks!

    • Heidi says:

      Kal,

      For some children just sitting down with them everyday and working on their speech for 10 to 15 minutes will make a huge difference. Sometimes all they need is someone to point out the correct way of saying things and through targeted practice they are able to make the corrections to their speech rather quickly. If this is the case you will usually see progress right away. My recommendation would be to try these worksheets for a month. If you don’t see improvement and you are struggling with how to help her say the right thing then it is definitely time to see a speech therapist.

      I have posted new worksheets on my worksheets page for the /f/, j, and ch sounds. Hopefully these will help! My recommendation would be to start with the /f/ sound. It is typically acquired at an earlier age than the other sounds your daughter is struggling with. Best of luck!

  25. Ssna says:

    Hi

    My daughter is almost 5 and she has a speech impediment, I dont know if it could be called a lisp as she doesnt have difficulty with the lettet ‘s’, her main problem is that instead of ‘G’ she says ‘D’ and instead of ‘K’ she says ‘th’… I’m so worried about her, I’ve spoken to her teacher & school nurse but they’re not doing anything! What should i do?? I dont know if this is related but she’s been sucking her thumb since she was a baby and her front teeth stick out slightly? :(

    • Heidi says:

      Ssna,

      It sounds like your daughter is struggling with tongue retraction. This means she has a difficult time moving her tongue back for sounds that are produced in the back of the mouth like /k/ and /g/. She likely struggles with the ng sound as well. The ng sound is the sound in the middle of hanger. Having difficulty retracting the tongue is often the case for children that suck their thumb. When you suck your thumb you reinforce the suckle motion which moves the tongue forward and backward only slightly. When your mouth is closed your tongue naturally retracts into a resting position. This naturally reinforces tongue retraction. I would do everything you can to first discourage the thumb sucking. Then I would work on some straw drinking exercises to strengthen the tongue retraction. In order for the straw drinking to be effective it is necessary to make sure the straw is placed in the center of the lips and your daughter is sucking from the tip of the straw only. If too much of the straw is in the mouth your daughter will suckle the straw just as she suckles her thumb when she sucks it. I would encourage you to see a speech pathologist for more in depth exercises to strengthen the tongue. I hope this helps!

  26. Cheren says:

    Hello. You have a very interesting blog. I also lisp when I speak and pronounces s and z as th. Though it is very obvious since I was a kid, my mom never sent me to a speech therapist or help me correct my speech. I am now 19 years old. I think it is because of my bad habit back when I was a child. I suck my thumb and developed an open bite teeth. I do well in school but I know, it still affects my performance like in communicating with other people. Do I still have a hope of correcting my speech? I would like to hear a feedback from you. I hope you could send me an email at cherenbalmores@yahoo.com I would appreciate it so much. Thank you!

  27. Taylor says:

    Heidi-
    My 2yr 8month old daughter has (what sounds like to me) a lateral lisp. Her problem sounds are /j/, /ch/, /sh/. She does that slushy sound out of the side of her mouth when she says those sounds. I keep reading how much harder it is to correct a lateral lisp and if therapy is needed I would like to start working with her asap. Is she too young to receive therapy? Our school district will screen them at 2 yrs 9mths and I am going to make an appt with them as soon as I can. From what I read this is not something she is likely to outgrow-is that correct? In the meantime, how can I work with her to help fix this problem? What is the success rate of curing a lateral lisp if therapy is started as early as possible?
    Thanks so much.

    • Heidi says:

      Taylor,

      I believe your daughter will be able to completely eliminate her lisp with early treatment. In my experience the earlier you train your daughter how to say these sounds correctly the less time she will have to spend in therapy to correct her lisp. Another side benefit is you will be able to fix the sounds she struggles with before she becomes self conscious of her speech. Teaching her to say these sounds clearly at an early age will help build her confidence.

      While you are waiting to get her into therapy I would work on stimulating the central groove of her tongue. When you brush her teeth at night brush the midline of her tongue really good. Then see if she can try to blow air down the center of her tongue. I would also work on blowing bubbles. This will help her direct the air down the center of her tongue. Straw drinking is also helpful. Be sure the straw is placed in the center of her lips before she begins drinking. Don’t allow her to drink from the side of her mouth. This may take some supervision. Be sure she drinks from the tip of the straw only, about 1/4”.

      I hope this helps! I know she can do it!

  28. Alyssa says:

    I just want to thank you for all of the information you provide here, free of charge. You are a wealth of knowledge and a blessing to many people. I was praying this morning about how best to correct my daughter’s interdental lisp and then I found this page through Google. My daughter can say the /s/ correctly in isolation. But as soon as she gets chatting it’s all lisp. I’ve printed off the /s/ word lists and can’t wait to get started. These word lists will help immensely. Thank you!!

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks Alyssa, I am happy to share this information with everyone. Being a parent myself, I know how much we want to help our kids and I feel this is a small way I can help out other parents who want the best for their kids. Good luck with your daughter, it sounds like you’re on the right track!

  29. Michelle says:

    Hi Heidi,

    I’ve just stumbeld across this part of your blog through google and you seem so helpful and knowledgable. I have only tonight started to reseach lisping. My son is 3 next month and he has the common ‘th’ for ‘s’ lisp which I’m figuring he’ll grow out of. But he also says ‘f’ for some ‘s’ words. E.G. foon for spoon; fower instead of shower, fittles instead of skittles, foke instead of smoke. Is this very unusual because I haven’t come across it on line yet? Also what advice do you have for me. His speech ad vocabularly in general is quite good.
    Thank you,
    Michelle, Ireland

    • Heidi says:

      Michelle,

      It sounds like your son is making very typical articulation errors for his age. Having said that there are still ways you can help. First, always make sure to model the correct pronunciation in your own speech. Some of us enjoy these adorable mispronunciations so much we start to use them when speaking with our little ones. Second, make a fun game out of practicing the /s/ sound all by itself. Tell your son his tongue is a snake and his teeth are the cage. Tell him he has to keep the snake in the cage by closing his teeth tightly. Tell him the snake (his tongue) is angry about being in the cage and so he hisses, “ssssssss.” Both of you take turns hissing, or making the /s/ sound until he can say it correctly. You may even make up fun stories to go along with the angry snake in the cage to make it even more fun.

  30. Jagbir Singh says:

    Thank You so much this is what i needed, my little 5 year old sis is really struggling with c,s,x,z and with these techniques i hope to get rid of this, i was worrying this might go on and get really bad!!

    thanks

  31. Rachel says:

    Hi
    My daughter has a lisp but she is 11 turning 12. And I think it’s the one where her tongue touches her teeth when she is saying snake or snack anything that makes a s sound.
    Should I be concerned?

    • Heidi says:

      Rachel,

      Yes, you need to see a speech language pathologist and get her some help. She can correct her lisp with some help. If you don’t have access to a speech language pathologist try following my recommendations in this post and use the worksheets I have on the worksheets page for the /s/ and /z/ sounds to begin practicing at home. Good luck!

      Heidi

  32. Jason says:

    Hi, i Have foud out that i have lisp, but i am age 15 and my dad say it is a waste of time at my age, which i find rather odd, but will this way help cure my lisp? i have read the top page about it and i have trouble with (c) (s) and (z) words, my tounge does tuch my teeth wehn i say any words with them letters.
    i am fine with my (th) words but i would rather try and get rid of it, i only found out about a month ago and no one told, if i do the teeth shut and keep saying (c) (s) (z) untill it wears off and then move to words? i do need help to understand how to treat it, many thanks and please send me some info for this at PeaceStealers@hotmail.com thank’s

    • Heidi says:

      Jason,

      If you are motivated to fix your lisp you can do it. If you attend a public school I would talk to a counselor and see if they can get you a referral to a speech pathologist serving in your school district. In the meantime use my worksheets to practice saying the /s/ and /z/ sounds in words. Watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you are keeping your tongue between your teeth. Clench your teeth in the beginning if necessary. Practice these multiple times a day. Maybe print them out and put them in the bathroom by your toothbrush and practice them everyday after you brush your teeth. After you master the words try them in sentences. You can use my sentences I have on the worksheets page or you can even make up your own. Once you have these down practice reciting stories in the mirror that have the /s/ and /z/ in them until you feel confident you have it down. Then do your best to produce those sounds correctly in conversation. I am impressed with you Jason for searching out an answer to your problem on your own. I know you can fix your lisp with practice. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

      Heidi

  33. Deborah says:

    I have an 8-year-old son with a dentalized lisp. I am also studying to a speech pathologist (one more year to get my master’s degree). I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t been able to help him one bit with his lisp. As the expression goes, “The cobbler’s children have no shoes!” We have done mirror work and the ‘long t’ trick, but I haven’t been able to get him to pronounce his /s/ or /z/ properly in any context. A few weeks ago, he got braces because of an underbite and a crossbite and generally messed up teeth. I’m wondering if the relationship of his articulators makes /s/ and /z/ impossible for him. Is it something that might resolve itself after braces, or should I keep going with the home therapy?

    • Heidi says:

      Deborah,

      I understand how hard it is when your own children struggle with speech sounds. My son struggled with the /r/ sound at age 8. Finally I sat down and really focused in on his speech and we were able to correct it last fall. I know you can do the same. It may be that his teeth have contributed to his lisp, it is hard to say without seeing him. I would definitely keep working with him while he is in braces. What I have found in therapy as well as with my own son is you can’t give up. The day will come when suddenly something clicks. Have you considered trying the “S” Speech Buddy? I have had great success with this tool. Maybe it will be the key for you and your son. Let me know how it goes.

      Heidi

  34. Tia says:

    Hi Heidi,
    A friend recommended your site for my daughter and I am excited to get started to help correct her many speech problems. She is 3 1/2 years old and struggles with almost all beginning consonants, but will use them often at the end of words. Thanks for all your useful information! Also, I was wondering how you can tell for sure which type of lisp is associated with saying the “s” sound incorrectly. My daughter says it as a “th” and sticks her tongue through her teeth so hers is easy to tell, but I myself struggle with the “s” sound and keep my tongue behind my teeth. I had speech therapy when I was little (I said it as a “th”) so I no longer say it as a “th” but the “s” sound still sounds incorrect. I am 30 yrs old so this has been a long-formed habit. How can I know how to correct it? When I say an “s” sound my tongue is behind my teeth and touching the roof of my mouth behind my front teeth. My family has all noticed as well so it is something I would like to fix. I will have to read over your entries again on the “s” sound. Any suggestions would be great. This is the only sound I struggle with, but I need to say it correctly if I want to help my daughter! Thanks!!

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Tia,

      It is difficult to say what kind of lisp you have with out seeing you. If the air is escaping out the sides of your tongue then it is a lateral lisp. If the back of the tongue is hitting the soft palate when you make the sound it would be a palatal lisp but it may be that you just have too much tongue to palate contact. I would recommend seeing a Speech Pathologist for an assessment especially if it is something that really bothers you. It often takes more work but is definitely something you can still fix even in adulthood.

      Best of luck to you and your daughter!

  35. michelle burns says:

    I hope you can help me. my daughter is 3 and 1/2 and was in speech for 6 months. I am not sure if this is a lisp or not but she will keep her tongue on the roof of her mouth when she ends the word with an s, but only on certain words. For example, flowers sounds like flowersh, and stairs sounds like stairsh. It is only when an R is in front of the s. What can I do to help because I can no longer pay for speech therapy.

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Michelle,

      If I understand you correctly your daughter is simply having a difficult time moving the tongue tip forward for the /s/ and /z/ sounds following the /r/ sound. This is likely not a lisp and developmentally appropriate for her age. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. She will likely work it out on her own If she doesn’t here are a few suggestions you might try. You can practice other words that require her to bring the tongue tip in contact with the alveolar ridge (the ridge behind the front teeth) following the r sound. You might try words ending in a /t/, /d/ or /n/ for example, have her say words like “barn, tart, heart, lard, hard or fern.” If she can do these well then work on words like, “purse, pears, bears or horse.” If this is still too difficult for her have her practice going from the /r/ sound to the to the /s/ sound in isolation over and over until she has it down then go back to trying it in words. I hope this helps.

      Best,
      Heidi

  36. Lynda O conell says:

    I have found this site really great, thank you very much.

    I am concerned myself about my own son, who is still not pronouncing his s correctly. It seems to come out the side of his mouth like what is described as a lateral above, but I also found these guidelines which I have been working on at home while I wait for speech therapy, and I have seen a great improvement.

    Take a look and see, maybe it will help you all too

    http://rosdun.com/blogs/06-04-12_Is_your_child_having_troubel_getting_his_her_S_out/getting_his_her_s_out.html

  37. ram says:

    hey,
    I’m 22 years old. I have a problem pronouncing the sound ‘TH’ .
    its difficult for me to say words like thirty, three etc. I’m finding this to be a very big problem.Please help

  38. Yomna says:

    Hi, I was reading all the responses searching for a similar case to mine, I found two cases listed (Tracy: posted Aug 31, 2010 and Adrienne: Oct 4, 2010). I also have a 9 year old with a mild lisp, dentalized lisp, I have always tried to fix it with him by showing him how to move his tongue away from his teeth and when he concentrates he can do it, but then he goes back again to the lisp … all of my friends and family always told me he will grow out of it, and he’s 9 now and didn’t grow out of it, I actually feel very guilty that i didn’t contact a speech therapist when he was younger.
    Anyway my question is to the above mentioned responses, as noticed they were years ago, i would very much like to know if this practice did work with their children, and if they have any advice for me , I will surely start the process Heidi listed, and I just need assurance that it will be effective with my 9 year old, and that it is not too late.
    Thank you
    Yomna

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Yomma,

      I too welcome feedback from previous parents that have been down this road. It helps us all when we share our experiences with one another. I can tell you from my experience working with kids that you are not too late to help your son fix his lisp. I would recommend however that you get him into speech therapy. With therapy a couple times a week and you supporting him at home he can learn to say the /s/ with out lisping. Good luck and please come back and share your experience with us.

      Heidi

  39. Kerry says:

    Wow, I feel so so lucky to have found your website. My darling 3yr old daughter has an interdental lisp and I have just printed off your worksheets for activities to do at home. Wish me luck!

  40. Pei Wei says:

    Hi Heidi,
    I’m so glad to stumble upon your very very interesting and useful website. I suspect my 17mo girl has lisp problem. I think (gosh, now in panic mode, must check her tongue properly!!) I notice the her tongue has got an “M” shape from front view. When she pronounces “Jeh Jeh” means sister in Cantonese, I hear “deh deh”. Is that lisp problem?

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Pei Wei,

      Well, without knowing Cantonese I’ll do my best to answer your question. First off, I am not concerned about a 17 month old lisping. They are still playing with sounds and learning our language and they have so much time yet to work it all out. Secondly substituting the /d/ sound for the -j- sound is a very common substitution for children learning to talk and is not considered a lisp. From what you have told me it sounds like she is doing just fine. Enjoy her. Listening to those little 1 year olds learn to talk is one of my favorite stages!

      Best,
      Heidi

  41. Jo says:

    Heidi,

    My 13 year old son has a very, very slight lisp and always has. Sometimes I don’t even notice it. As a matter of fact, my husband doesn’t at all. lol! But every once in while someone will bring it to his attention. I’m quite certain it is a dentalized lisp. His tongue touches he top of his teeth when he says “s” and other similar sounds. Sometimes his tongue almost looks like it is touching the teeth on one side of his front two. It is more prevalent when he is tired. It’s never been noticed by school officials and I don’t think it’s severe enough for a long term therapy session. However, I want to correct it now and also he is getting braces this year so I don’t want it to get worse. Is this something I can do at home with him and where do I start?

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Jo,

      If your son is motivated to correct his lisp and willing to commit himself to consistent focused practice every day then yes, I would absolutely recommend you work together to correct the lisp. Start by teaching the correct placement of the tongue for the /s/ sound. You may want to try a few of the tips I listed in this post. If you still have difficulty getting the correct placement of the tongue you may be interested in purchasing the “S Speech Buddy.” You can read Gordy Rogers’ guest post, “Speech Therapist 2.0-Designed for Parents, Fits in your Hand” for more information on Speech Buddies.

      After he has the correct placement of the tongue for the /s/ sound in isolation you are ready to take a typical articulation therapy approach. You can read my post, “The Process of Articulation Therapy” for an outline of the steps to take when working on articulation.

      You can use the free worksheets on my worksheets page to practice the /s/ sound or if you have an iPad you and your son will really enjoy the /s/ sound program in Articulation Station.

      Wishing you success!
      Heidi

  42. megan says:

    hello there.

    my son will be 5 in 4months.

    when he makes an S sound his tongue goes to the front/side of his mouth and he makes a STH sound. the other day I asked him to say an S with his tongue not moving to the side. no problem.

    hmm, is it a lazy habbit? do you think he needs help?

    thanks,
    megan

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Megan,

      I think it would be a good idea for you to start working with him and see how he does. Sometimes some kids just need a little push to get them going in the right direction. The fact that he was able to say the sound correctly when you asked him to is very encouraging. Try having him say the /s/ sound followed by a vowel like see, say and sew. Have him practice this until he can say these syllables correctly. Once he can do this print out the /s/ initial worksheets on my worksheets page and have him practice saying those sounds correctly. You may also be interested in Articulation Station for iPad or iPhone (coming soon on iPhone) for lots of fun interactive ways to practice the /s/ sound. I would also encourage you to read my post, The Process of Articulation Therapy to help you clearly outline your goals for him.

      If you find that even after a several months he is not able to practice the sound correctly with you in syllables or words I would encourage you to contact a speech pathologist for some guidance.

      All the best!
      Heidi

  43. Anjali says:

    My daughter is 2 and a half years old and she is not able to produce some sounds like ‘g’, ‘k’, ‘r’, ‘l’, and ‘s’. Her tongue seems to be normal. Should I meet a speech therapist now or should I wait?

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Anjali,

      Your daughter is still young. I would give her a little more time. If in a year she is still struggling with her k and g sounds you may want to contact a speech pathologist. The /s/ and /l/ sounds aren’t typically mastered by children until age 5 and the r sound is even later at age 6 so you still have a few more years on those before you should be concerned.

      It doesn’t mean however that there is nothing you can do. You can still be sure to model really clear productions of those sounds for him to imitate. If he is interested you can even work on saying those sounds all by themselves. If that goes well you may even try putting those sounds in words. You may be interested in reading my post, “The Process of Articulation Therapy” for some guidance or the post on “How to Teach the K and G Sounds.”

      All the best!
      Heidi

  44. Angela says:

    Hi Heidi
    My 2 1/2 yr old is chatty and has good vacab, but my husband and I suddenly noticed a few days ago that he is pronouncing ‘S’ as ‘TH’. How could we have not noticed this before! (or perhaps it’s just suddenly become more noticeable?). He is just cutting some molars. From the (fantastic) information you provide it looks like a dentalized lisp – he is pushing his tongue against his front teeth (there is no gap between his front teeth). If this is part of his natural development, should I just wait to see if he grows out of it or start some exercises now?
    Thank you for such an informative website and taking the time and trouble to answer people’s problems.
    Best
    Angela

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Angela,

      This one is really up to you. The majority of children don’t have this sound mastered until about the age of 5. If it were me though I would just start playing around with trying to say the /s/ sound correctly. Often times kids just need a little guidance and then they are able to correct the sound without too much trouble. Make sure however that you encourage him to say the correct sound in a relaxed, fun way. If he is responsive great, go with it and continue to practice the sound in words and then sentences. If he isn’t able to say the sound correctly, and he starts to get frustrated I would recommend you wait a few more months before you try again.Hope this helps.

      All the best!
      Heidi

  45. Ash says:

    Hi Heidi.
    I am an 19 year old who has a lisp mainly due to having been born with a cleft palate. At least that the reason I’ve been given.

    I was receiving speech therapy until the I was about 12 and while I no longer have trouble with t sounds, my s and z sounds are still as bad as when I first began going to speech therapy. Or rather since I first began talking since I began going to speech therapy when I was about six months old.

    When I was about 12 or 13 I had to stop going to speech therapy as speech therapists would no longer due to a legality in my country.

    I was therefore wondering if there is any possibility of my speech improving, despite having no luck so far.

    I am studying journalism currently and while I greatly enjoy the radio side of my course, I feel as if my lisp is greatly stunting my progress on the course as well as possibly preventing me from getting a job in that field in the future.

    I know this is an old article so I’m sorry for posting in it. However I have grown quite desperate to find answers. I’ve made steps to contact several speech therapists in my area but so far I have received no replies.

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Ash,

      The first question I would ask you if I had the chance is do you know how to say the /s/ sound correctly in isolation (all by itself)? If you have learned to say the /s/ sound in isolation then you can start helping yourself until you are able to schedule speech therapy services. I would recommend the /s/ program in “Articulation Station” if you have an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. This program will be a great tool for you because you can listen to an audio model with a correct /s/ production of “s” words in all positions of words including blends. Then you can record yourself saying the word and then play it back so you can judge for yourself how you are doing.

      I would also recommend that you start by practicing the /st/ blends before you practice /s/ initial words. You may be more successful by starting with the /st/ blends because you said you can say the /t/ sound correctly already. Producing the /s/ sound directly before you produce the /t/ sound will make it easier for you to get the /s/ positioned correctly since it is followed by the /t/ sound which is produced in the same place and you already say correctly.

      I hope this gives you a few ideas of where and how to get started. I know with the right assistance you can learn to speak without a lisp. Best of luck with your speech and your career!

      Heidi

  46. Grace says:

    Hi,

    I’m an 18 year old with an interdental lisp. I was born premature (27 weeks) and had trouble forming a number of other sounds which speech therapy when I was about 7 sorted out, including c, t, j, cl, ch, sh (I still struggle with sh occasionally). I’m in the UK btw, but the therapy was only successful when I left the NHS and went to see someone privately – we couldn’t afford to continue that for long, so my lisp remains untouched.

    I get it will be harder to cure my lisp now I’m approaching adulthood. How many sessions with a speech therapist would this take? (I’d be paying myself, and I want to know what I’m letting myself in for!) Also, I’m leaving home to go to a university the other side of the country in 3 and a half months, which would obviously pose a problem to seeing the same therapist afterwards – could my lisp be cured before then if I was really committed?

    Thanks so much!

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Grace,

      Good for you for wanting to correct your lisp. Everyone progresses at different rates, so it is hard to say how long it will take you to correct yours. You need to train your tongue to go to the correct position. One thing that will help is if you pay attention to where your tongue’s resting position is. Meaning, when you are just sitting there watching TV or something where does your tongue automatically go? We want the tongue tip to be resting right behind the front upper teeth touching the roof of the mouth. If your tongue is not doing that then that is where I would start. Try to keep your tongue on that spot when you are not talking. That will help train your tongue to stay back for the /s/ sound. That is also where your tongue should be when you are swallowing. Take a small sip of water and swallow and pay attention to where your tongue is going. If it is going out of your mouth a little bit you want to practice having it go up to the roof of your mouth. Correcting these 2 things will really help with the lisp. Once you correct these things you can move on to practicing producing the /s/ sound with your teeth closed and tongue back. I like to start my students on the /st/ blends because the /t/ in the word helps the tongue get to the correct position. From there move on to the other /s/ blend sounds. Practice for short periods multiple times a day and soon you will see it start to generalize into your every day speech.

      If you have access to an iPad or iPhone you can download the Free version of Articulation Station and then purchase only the /s/ sound program which will give you practice activities for the /s/ sound in words, sentences and stories in all positions of words including blends. You can also record your productions and then play them back to monitor your own progress. Despite the fun colors and illustrated bee in the app it really is appropriate for all ages including adults.

      Best of luck to you!

  47. Melanie says:

    My 5-year-old daughter seems to have an interdental lisp. About a month ago, she started pronouncing many of her “s” sounds as “th” out of the blue! The first time I noticed it, she was telling a story to a bunch of my husband’s coworkers, so I thought maybe she was doing it for attention. In the subsequent month, though, I have noticed it more and more, and I’m starting to become more and more concerned. If I correct her, she can correctly pronounce any word after one or two tries. I called the pediatrician today. She said these kinds of speech issues, such as lisping and stuttering, tend to begin around age 5. She recommended for me to just keep an eye on it until she starts school in the fall and then mention it to her teacher if I am still noticing it, and the teacher can refer for speech therapy. Is this true, that speech issues tend to start around age 5? Is it something I, as her parent, am doing wrong? Could there be a root physiological cause that is just starting to occur in her mouth? Should I be working with her on her “s” sound? Thanks in advance for your time.

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Melanie,

      If your daughter is able to produce the /s/ sound in words correctly after you model them for her then I would recommend that you continue working on them with her. You can find some worksheets to use here on the blog. Also, if you have an iPhone or iPad you can download our Articulation Station app and just purchase the /s/ sound deck. This will give you flashcards for /s/ in all positions of words, sentences, and stories to practice as well as a fun memory game. You can also track her data so you can see how she is progressing and even show it to the speech therapist at her school in the fall if you are still concerned.

      Good luck!

  48. Rhoda says:

    hi Heidi
    I am a mom of 2 articulate, well spoken girls. However, I’ve recently left home to go work in another country for 9 months (we’re only in the 3rd week so far!), and I’ve noticed that my little one (4 years) has just developed a lisp. From having never spoken baby talk to having a big vocabulary from young (both my girls do), I find this very distressing. I’m convinced that it is connected to my absence and her difficulty in processing why mummy’s gone. Do you have any advice for me or rather for my husband, who is the one who’ll have to do any correcting…?
    Many thanks

    • April says:

      Hi Rhoda,
      There are different kinds of lisps, the most common ones being a frontal lisp where the tongue protrudes out the front of the teeth, and a lateral lisp where air escapes out the side of the tongue. With a frontal lisp, your best bet is for you, or your husband to teach your daughter to keep the tongue behind her teeth when she says /s/ /z/ or any other sounds she might be lisping on. Using a mirror is helpful, and also modeling and pointing out the correct production in your own speech. Sometimes correcting a lateral lisp can be a bit trickier because you have to teach your child to redirect the airflow out through the front teeth instead of out the side of the tongue. In the past I have used a straw to help show children how the airflow should come forward instead of out the side. With both techniques it’s important to remember that you are basically correcting an incorrect pronunciation that has become a habit. So it will take some modeling on your part, some practice, and some time. Have your husband positively reinforce your daughter when she’s able to use correct production. Check out some of our other blog posts on how to teach other speech sounds to get an idea as to how to help your daughter start to carry over the good /s/ sound into speech production via syllables, words, sentences, stories, etc. Good luck!

  49. Roger navaira says:

    Hello my son is eight and just brought to my attention about teasing due to his lisp. He says he is embarrased to read or even talk out loud in front of the class because of this. It is breaking my heart. Any information about any books I can purchase to help my son would be greatly appreciated

    • April says:

      Hi Roger,
      I am sorry to hear that your son has experienced some teasing. It is always very heartbreaking to hear when children are singled out for differences such as the way they speak. Have you or your son considered consulting a speech therapist to address his lisp? I would recommend doing this to help correct your son’s lisp. There are some things you can do at home to help your son.
      As I told Rhoda in the comment above there are different kinds of lisps, the most common ones being a frontal lisp where the tongue protrudes out the front of the teeth, and a lateral lisp where air escapes out the side of the tongue. With a frontal lisp, you’d want to instruct him to keep the tongue behind his teeth when he says /s/ /z/ or any other sounds he might be lisping on. Using a mirror is helpful, and also modeling and pointing out the correct production in your own speech. Sometimes correcting a lateral lisp can be a bit trickier because you have to teach your child to redirect the airflow out through the front teeth instead of out the side of the tongue. In the past I have used a straw to help show children how the airflow should come forward instead of out the side. With both techniques it’s important to remember that you are basically correcting an incorrect pronunciation that has become a habit. So it will take some modeling on your part, some practice, and some time. Have your husband positively reinforce your daughter when she’s able to use correct production. Check out some of our other blog posts on how to teach other speech sounds to get an idea as to how to help your son start to carry over the good /s/ sound into speech production via syllables, words, sentences, stories, etc. You can also check out or fantastic app Articulation Station Pro for more help in practicing at home. Good luck!

  50. Sandy says:

    Hello,

    My 7 year old 2nd grader seems to have what you describe as a dentalized lisp. We have been aware of this, but also know that he has a fairly pronounced cross bite (under-bite). As he is getting older it has not improved and seems to becoming more clear that he will need orthodontic treatment to correct (he is being monitored by his pediatric dentist).
    I found your advise very useful and well stated, thank you! As I went through a few of the drills with him, it seem that there may not be enough room in his mouth to pull his tongue back from his front teeth to correctly form the /s/ sound.
    Do you have any advice on this? It seems like a battle of timing to me.

    • April says:

      Hi Sandy,
      A lot of parents have concerns that dental occlusions, or instances when teeth or dental arches are misaligned can cause articulation disorders. Research shows that while dental occlusions are slightly more common in individuals who have articulation disorders, they do not themselves cause articulation disorders. Most individuals will learn to produce speech sounds correctly in spite of such deviations by using compensatory strategies. This is helpful information because a lot of parents may feel or are sometimes told that a child’s speech misarticulations cannot be corrected until dental or orthodontic treatment is completed.
      It is understandable that it feels different for your son to try to pull his tongue back behind his teeth to produce a correct /s/. He is basically correcting a habit, and that can take time and practice. For now, we would suggest having him try to make that correct /s/ sound just in isolation, or by itself. Sometimes doing this in front of a mirror is helpful. If he’s still having a hard time getting a good /s/ sound in isolation it might be helpful to have him evaluated by a speech-language pathologist that may find other variables, upon examination, in his orofacial structures that might be attributed to his difficulty with producing a correct /s/.
      Best of luck!

  51. darren and robin P. says:

    Hi Heidi,
    My wife and I have basically been the parental figures in our nephews’ life as of late. He is 15 years old and has a lisp.
    We have been talking about his lisp and after finding your site and reading up on the different types of lisps, we have figured out he has a palatal lisp. Our number 1 objective is to get this corrected. Being he is 15 we know and understand that it may be tougher for him. What would you recommend? Thank you, Darren and Robin P.

    • April says:

      Hi Darren and Robin,
      It’s true that articulation therapy for older children can be a little tricky; basically this misarticulated sound is a habit that needs correcting. However many older children can still make progress and can correct their articulation errors if they are motivated to practice and correct the misarticulation in their speech. If you feel that your nephew is motivated to work hard and practice then I would recommend having a speech pathologist evaluate your nephew and make recommendations for speech therapy. Also, be aware that correcting a lateral lisp can be a bit trickier because he will need to learn to redirect the airflow out through the front teeth instead of out the side of the tongue. Check out some of our other blog posts on how to teach other speech sounds to get an idea as to how you can start to help your nephew. Good luck!