Communication is a fundamental aspect of human interactions.
Clear and effective communication play an important role in our everyday lives.
It shapes our relationships, enabling us to express our thoughts, needs and emotions.
However, for some children, the journey towards clear and confident self expression may involve overcoming specific speech obstacles, such as lisps.
Another name for lisping is sigmatism.
According to various estimates, approximately 5 to 10% of children show some form of speech sound disorder, with lisps being one of the more common conditions.
However, speech therapy for kids can help.
In this article, we will delve into details of lisp, explore causes that contribute to the development of lisp in children, and the importance of early intervention by speech therapy, whether in person or through online speech therapy.
What Is A Lisp?
A lisp is a speech disorder usually developed during childhood and often goes away on its own.
It’s important to recognize that lisp is not a reflection of intelligence or ability of a child.
In some cases, it’s a natural result of learning a language.
As your child learns the speech sounds they need to speak the languages you’re teaching them, they’ll often pronounce things incorrectly at first.
This is especially true for the sounds associated with the letters “s” and “z”.
In some cases, this resolves on its own, and your child will continue to develop as expected.
However, if they’re still pronouncing their “s” and “z” sounds in a distorted way by the time they reach five years of age, it might be a sign they’re lisping.
This is an articulation disorder that can cause issues with their communication skills as they grow.
There are four different types of lisps commonly observed in children.
Let’s take a closer look at them.
Frontal Lisp (Interdental Lisp)
If your child pushes their tongue too far forward and it protrudes between the front teeth, it can create a distorted sound.
Children with a frontal lisp may produce their “s” sounds as “th”.
In a lateral lisp, your child’s airflow is not directed through the center of their mouth.
Extra air slides over their tongue when making “s” and “z” sounds, making it sound slushy.
This lisp sounds like a frontal lisp.
The difference is that your child’s tongue is pushing up against their front teeth, rather than between them.
This tongue to tooth contact interferes with the proper airflow, resulting in distorted sound.
Palatal lisp is less common compared to the other types.
It occurs when your child’s tongue touches the roof of their mouth instead of the alveolar ridge (the area behind the upper front teeth) when making “s” and “z” sounds.
This results in a muffled or nasal sound quality.
How To Tell If Your Child Has A Lisp?
Lisping typically starts around 2 years old when children begin to copy the sounds of speech they hear around them.
If you suspect your child may have a lisp, there are certain signs to look out for.
First, if your child has trouble pronouncing “s” and “z” sounds, consistently replacing these sounds with a distorted or slushy versions, they may have a lisp.
Watch their tongue placement while they speak.
Second, if you notice their tongue protruding between the front teeth or making contact with the front teeth, it may suggest a frontal or dentalized lisp.
Lastly, a muffled or “wet” quality to the pronunciation of “s” and “z” could be a sign of a lateral lisp.
What Causes A Child To Have A Lisp?
The exact cause of lisp in children may vary.
Lisping can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
Oral Muscle Coordination Difficulties
When the muscles responsible for your child’s speech production don’t coordinate properly, it may result in mispronunciation of certain sounds.
Overbite, underbite, or gaps between their front teeth can affect the position of your child’s tongue during speech, resulting in lisping.
Tongue tie is when your child’s tongue is tethered to the bottom of their mouth.
This restricts its movement, which can lead to distorted speech.
It’s believed that prolonged use of pacifier may make lisps more likely.
This is because it can strengthen the muscles of your child’s tongue and lips beyond normal levels.
However, not every child with a lisp uses pacifier, and not every child who uses a pacifier gets a lisp.
How Can A Speech Therapist Help?
Pediatric speech therapists are experts in helping children with lisps to achieve clearer speech.
If you suspect your child may have a lisp, your speech therapist will begin by carrying out a thorough evaluation.
This helps to determine which type of lisp your child has, the underlying causes, and severity of the lisp.
From there, they will develop a personalized plan of therapy tailored to your child’s needs.
Therapy sessions usually involve a variety of techniques and exercises to improve articulation, oral motor function, and overall speech clarity.
Through these, your pediatric speech therapist can help retrain your child’s tongue and mouth muscles to produce correct sounds.
This includes the positioning of their tongue, airflow, and muscle control.
Besides “s” and “z” sounds, speech therapy sessions may include other speech sounds and phonemes as well.
Throughout the process, your pediatric speech therapist will provide a supportive and motivating environment for your child to practice and boost their confidence to speak.
An essential part of the speech therapy process is regular communication and coaching with you and your child’s caregivers.
The therapy process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years.
It may take a longer period of time if your child is older when he or she begins to work with a speech therapist.
It’s important to remember that every child is unique and will progress at their own pace.
With the expertise of your speech therapist and the support of your family, your child can make considerable improvements in speech clarity, confidence in speaking, and communication skills.
When Should I Bring My Child In For Lisp Speech Therapy?
Generally speaking, it’s common for young children to show temporary lisping as they develop their speech skills and they usually resolve on their own.
However, if your child is around five years old and still has difficulty pronouncing sounds like “s” and “z” correctly, it’s probably time to make an appointment for a speech therapy consultation.
Speech therapy tends to be more effective at a younger age, so it’s a good idea to reach out as soon as you notice an issue.
If you’re not sure whether your child has an issue with lisping, we can help.
Book Your Appointment With Voz Speech Therapy Today
Speech therapy is a valuable resource for children with a lisp.
It can offer your child the opportunity to develop clear communication skills, which will boost their self esteem and social interactions.
Voz Speech Therapy provides a nurturing and effective environment for kids to overcome their speech challenges.
1331 H St NW Ste 200,
Washington, DC 20005
Voz Speech Therapy is a pediatric bilingual speech therapy clinic in Washington, DC that provides individualized services based on the specific needs of your or your child. Therapy sessions are provided in English or Spanish, depending on your child’s native language. Voz Speech Therapy es una clínica pediátrica bilingüe de terapia del habla en Washington, DC que brinda servicios individualizados según las necesidades específicas de usted o su hijo. Las sesiones de terapia se brindan en inglés o español, según el idioma nativo de su hijo.