Lisping: Know the Types, Causes, and How to Cure a Lisp

how to cure a lisp

Do you or your child have problems with the way you speak certain words and letters? Or do you know anyone who is getting frustrated with the same problem? You may be having a speech disorder called lisp.

Some may think that lisping is just normal, and you will outgrow this speech issue. However, those who still experience it during their adult years beg to differ.

So, how do we correctly define lisping? Is it a full-on speech disorder? What are the causes of lisping? How should one address this situation? Let us find out more about this speech condition, from knowing the causes, the triggers, and how to cure a lisp.


Speech Disorders: A Brief Overview

When we were young, it is quite common for us to experience difficulty in enunciating words, mainly because we are still developing our language and articulation. We also hear kids who stutter, jumble words, or mispronounce some while clearly uttering others.

We think this is common because millions of Americans experienced this at one point in their lives; some even have them up until now. This condition coined a medical term as a speech disorder.


Types of Speech Disorder

There are major types of speech disorders that cover voice, language, articulatory, medical-related, symptom-related, and problems caused by anatomical defects.

Voice disorder

Also called dysphonia, this stems from a condition that affects the larynx or the voice box. Paralysis, accident-related trauma, or pituitary issues may cause a person to have a natural hoarse, breathy, or rough voice.

Language disorders

Language disorders usually come from a familial disability or a condition acquired during and after your birth. This speech impediment hinders a person from developing his ability to speak because of the way his brain developed.

Speech problems from medical-related reasons

how to cure a lisp word evaluation

Medical and symptom-related speech problems arose as a consequence of a disease or condition that affected one’s speech. For instance, a stroke could cause either partial or total loss of the ability to speak. It affects the part of the brain that allows a person to process and comprehend language. Others also experience symptom-related speech difficulties due to the disability that they possess, like hearing loss, intellectual retardation, and more.

This disorder can also come from problems with the organs of speech. Tongue-tied, congenital malformation, cleft palate, and other anatomical issues that affect the parts of the body you use for speaking lies under this speech disorder category.

Articulatory disorders

This type of speech disorder covers problems that affect how a person enunciates or pronounces words. The ‘s’ and ‘z’ sound of a person directly connects to his tongue placement when speaking. Stuttering, stammering, cluttering words, and lisping fall under this type.


Lisping and its Types

As we all know, lisping is a functional speech disorder that hinders a person from pronouncing certain words. Typical problem words that persons with lisp find challenging to say contain /s/ or /z/ sound. They may also find it difficult to pronounce /sh/, /ch/, and /j/ sounds, but the real reason is still tricky to know. For us to know how to cure a lisp, doctors and experts in speech therapy came up with types of lisping based on the probable cause of their language issue.

Frontal Lisp

This type of lisp happens when a person’s tongue sticks out of his front teeth. This action prevents the air from flowing freely as you say the words that have /s/ or /z/ sound, making them sound /th/. For example, the word sing will sound like a thing, past sounds path, and zap sounds like thap.

Palatal Lisp

how to cure a lisp at childhoodOur palates are found on the roof of mouths. With palatal lisp, the tongue instinctively slides far back to the soft palate, or the soft roof at the back half of our mouths. Instead of staying midway, the tongue touches the roof of the mouth.  This prevents a person from speaking clearly. To demonstrate, stick a piece of candy on your palate, then try to speak. This difficulty you experience in speaking imitates persons with a lisp.

Dental Lisp

If the frontal lisp happens when the tongue juts in between the front teeth, the dental lisp thrusts the tongue to the front. They create almost the same sound and experience the same difficulty, but the way they enunciate a word is different.

Lateral Lisp

Instead of pushing the tongue to the front, as the term goes, a person with lateral lisp ‘parks’ his tongue on the side while talking. You can hear swirling sounds on his trigger words, as well as slushes and indistinct hisses.

While most of these types are readily corrected as the child reaches 4 years of age, the lateral lisp is an exemption. Moreover, if a person has a lateral lisp, his difficulty cannot be considered as a normal speech problem. Doctors and experts of speech therapy need to do further evaluation to determine the cause of this speech disorder type.


Lisping: Speech Therapy and other practices

Though as common as lisping is, many parents still worry that their kids may stay this way past the average age of development. If your child has a lisp, your doctor can reassure you that some types can be outgrown. Kids who fall under the age of 5 can still correct their pronunciation with their parents’ guidance. As he grows up, then it is the best time to consult a speech therapist for assistance. But, if we really need to know how to cure a lisp, read on for more information.


Steps in Speech Therapy

Lisping understanding

A speech therapist starts a session by allowing the kid to speak independently and freely, not minding the wrong pronunciations and difficulties. They may record the statements and play them back to the kid so he can hear his own voice and speech. As he listens, the speech therapist points out the words and the correct pronunciation of each, which the child may be unaware of.

Tongue direction

Your child’s speech therapy session allows the expert to observe and determine the location of the tongue as he speaks. He can straightforwardly categorize the type of lisp, making it easy for him to plan ways on how to correct your child’s tongue placement.

The therapist instructs your child to make sounds with the tongue midline to the mouth. Like singers do vocalization, speech therapy practices sounds with emphasis on tongue location.

Word evaluation

how to cure a lisp with speech therapySpeech therapy experts have sets of words that help them determine the type and level of speech problem a child has. Each set is divided per letter difficulty. For instance, the first set of words contain /s/ as the beginning letter. Your therapist has a different set for words with /s/ in the middle and at the end.

As your child reads a selection of words that trigger the /th/ sound, the speech-language therapist may coach your child to point the tongue midway instead of upwards or sideways.

Practice reading

This step allows the kid to practice reading words with a beginning, in between, and ending trigger letters. The /s/ or /z/ sound gets mixed with different letters so as to ensure the familiarization of how the tongue should be positioned.

Speech activity

As the speech therapy session advances, the therapist may let the child read phrases that contain the problematic words. Your speech-language therapist may allow you to take time in reading them. Of course, not all things can withstand haste, so the willingness to learn solves this issue.

Engage in conversation

As a final test, the speech-language therapist talks to your child in full-on sentences, expecting your child to do the same. They converse naturally, but it tests your child to remember the tongue placement.

As the conversation advances, the speech therapy session ends as the mentor lets you hear the difference in your child’s pronunciation from the start of the therapy until today.


When should we Treat a Lisp?

As parents, we find it hard to accept that our child talks differently. No matter how your pedia doctor reassures you about how common lisping is, you still want to find ways to correct it at once.

What speech-language pathologists and therapists answer parents of children with lisping issues is that correction depends on your child’s development and speech disorder type.

For instance, speech therapy can start for palatal lisping at the early age of 3. Dental and lateral lisps, though common, are not considered developmental problems. This means a child, if not guided, cannot outgrow his lisping. So, speech therapy sessions for this type usually start as early as 4 to 5 years old. This allows the child to get used to the correct tongue placement while still young.


Speech-Language Therapist: How to Choose One

Knowing who to ask assistance from makes a parent feel positive and encouraged. However, very few practices and establishments offer speech therapy education, limiting the number of speech-language therapists in the country. Limited standards on how to address speech disorders also hinder professionals to establish their practice. So how should parents choose a speech therapy and language development expert for their child?

Knows how to cure a lisp by separating different speech disorders

how to cure a lisp speech therapyA speech-language pathologist or therapist has the certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). This accreditation signifies that the therapist you chose has the knowledge and skill to handle your child’s needs. They know how to distinguish a speech disorder from the other, whether it be a voice, language, or articulatory problem.

Regards and Treats your Child Well

From the very first time they meet, you can immediately see how the therapist acts toward your child. Talking constructively to your child is key to a friendly therapy environment. You can feel reassured that an expert or professional handles the issues of your child with proper care and understanding.

They have Established Treatment Approach

Because there are several speech disorders, several treatment methods need to be recognized. Your speech therapist should know which technique to apply to your child’s lisping. He should easily determine if it’s a lateral lisp, frontal lisp, or palatal lisp. With this, he can determine what specific method and exercise he needs to utilize during your child’s speech therapy session.



The prevalence of lisping in young adults.

Speech Problems.

What Are Lisps and What Causes Them? 

7 Tips to Help Correct a Lisp.

How to Find the Right Speech Therapist for Your Child.

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