Is A Lisp A Speech Impediment?

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Is A Lisp A Speech Impediment

Is A Lisp A Speech Impediment?

A speech difficulty called a lisp is caused by an impediment that specifically affects the pronunciation of the sounds produced by the S and Z letters. Lisps usually occur in childhood and often resolve naturally. However, there are still some individuals who have lisps and require treatment.

The origins of lisps are still unknown. Sigmatism is another term used to refer to the condition. There is a belief that using pacifiers past a certain age might be connected to lisps. Extended pacifier usage is thought to potentially strengthen the tongue and lip muscles, which could potentially increase the chances of developing a lisp. It is important to understand that pacifier usage does not necessarily affect every child with a lisp. Additionally, the use of a pacifier by children does not lead to the development of speech impediments.

Lisping can also occur due to other factors, such as:

  • Tongue-tie: Ankyloglossia, also known as tongue-tie, is a condition where the tongue is physically attached to the bottom of the mouth, restricting its movement.
  • Issues regarding the alignment of the jaw.
  • Developing the skill to pronounce the sound with slight inaccuracies in a straightforward manner.

Some problems, such as tongue-ties, can be noticed from birth, while others, like incorrect pronunciation, develop during a child’s language acquisition.

 

4 different types of lisps and effective methods to correct them

Learn about four different categories of lisps as we explore each one and provide practical exercises that you can do at home.

Interdental lisp

A frontal lisp, also known as an interdental lisp, is a common type of lisp that is easily recognized by most people. This phenomenon happens when an individual articulates a [th] sound in place of an /s/ or /z/ sound. If you or your child have an interdental lisp, certain words like “sing” may be pronounced as “thing,” and words like “zebra” may be said as “thebra.” The interdental lisp occurs when the speaker’s tongue is positioned incorrectly within their oral cavity, often extending through the gaps between their front teeth.

Dentalized lisp

A dentalized lisp is similar to the interdental lisp but differs in the extent to which the tongue extends beyond the front teeth. The tongue applies pressure against the far side of the front teeth, redirecting the airflow towards the front instead of fully protruding. As a result, this frequently results in a lowered volume during conversation.

Lateral lisp

Once you are familiar with its unique sound, a lateral lisp becomes easily recognizable. During speech, the position of the tongue remains relatively stable, but the sides of the tongue rise slightly to allow air to escape from both sides of the mouth. The excess of air can cause a speaker’s speech sound “slushy,” giving it a distinct “wet” or “spitty” quality. The term slushy lisp is commonly used to describe a lateral lisp.

Palatal lisp

The upward movement and contact of the tongue with the soft palate, or roof of the mouth, result in a palatal lisp. The presence of a lisp can affect the accurate pronunciation of /s/ and /z/ sounds, although it is not commonly observed.

 

Treatment for Lisps

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) specialize in providing assistance to children who have lisps, analyzing the specific type of lisp a child has, and offering ongoing support to correct it. The time it takes to get rid of a lisp can range from several months to several years. Older children who begin therapy with a speech therapist may experience a longer duration of time for overall improvement.

Speech pathologists help individuals with lisps by teaching them about the auditory properties of their lisp and helping them improve their tongue placement to produce the desired sounds. To achieve this, specific exercises can be used, such as verbalizing certain words or phrases that contain the sounds being targeted. Once the speech pathologist has dedicated a significant amount of time to working on your child’s lisp, they will assess their ability to maintain proper tongue positioning through conversation.

If your child has a lisp caused by a tongue-tie, a medical professional may recommend a simple procedure called a frenectomy as a way of relieving the restriction. The procedure involves using a pair of scissors to trim the excess tissue that is limiting tongue movement. In some cases of tongue-tie, a surgical procedure called frenuloplasty may be required.

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