Correcting a Lisp with Therapy
The term 'lisp' refers to a difficulty achieving the correct tongue position when pronouncing the /s/ and /z/ sounds.
When a person lisps their tongue either protrudes between, or touches, their front teeth and the sound they make is more like a 'th' than a /s/ or /z/.
There are 4 types of lisps:
1. Interdental (frontal) lisp where the tongue protrudes between the front teeth and the air-flow is directed forwards. The /s/ and /z/ sound like 'th'.
2. 'Dentalised lisp' where the tongue rests on, or pushes against, the front teeth, the air-flow is directed forwards, producing a slightly muffled sound.
3. Lateral lisp where the tongue position is very close to the normal position for /l/ and the sound is made with the air-flow directed over the sides of the tongue.
4. Palatal lisp where the mid-section of the tongue comes in contact with the soft palate, quite far back.
Sometimes children and adults who lisp when they attempt to say /s/ and /z/ also have tongue placement problems when they try to say 'sh' as in 'shoe', 'zh' as in measure, 'ch' as in 'chair', and 'dg' as in 'badge'.
The therapy for the first two types of lisps is often simple, straight forward and brief; children are usually treated for these kinds of lisps around age 4 ½. The third and fourth types often prove to be quite resistant to change and require more rigorous therapy for longer periods of time; treatment for a lateral or palatal lisp may be appropriate in children under 4½.
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