Do you have difficulty pronouncing “s” or “z” sounds?
Have your friends or family members remarked that you sound like you have a lisp?
Are you looking into Washington DC speech therapy for your lisp?
If so, you’re not alone.
A lisp is a common speech affectation, with an estimated 23 per cent of people in the USA having experienced it at some point in their lives.
But what is a lisp, and what are your options if you have one?
Keep reading to learn more.
What Is A Lisp?
A lisp is a type of functional speech disorder.
A functional speech disorder is a difficulty with a particular speech sound, or a few specific speech sounds.
Functional speech disorders often present in childhood, which is why they frequently fall under speech therapy treatments for children.
However, they can persist into adolescence and adulthood as ‘residual errors’.
A “lisp” commonly refers to a person’s difficulty producing the S and Z sound.
Your tongue maybe sticking out between your front teeth, or the sides of your tongue may not be high or tense enough in your mouth.
Problems creating S, Z, R, L, and TH sounds are common in functional speech disorders.
Different Types Of Lisps
There are multiple different kinds of lisps.
They are distinguished by the placement of your tongue in your mouth.
All of them are characterized by difficulty with creating certain sounds, but they all produce slightly different pronunciation errors.
Let’s take a closer look at the different types of lisps.
1. Interdental Lisp
In an interdental lisp, or frontal lisp, your tongue sticks out between your front teeth and the airflow is directed forwards
An interdental lisp makes S and Z sound like TH sounds.
For example, “yes” is pronounced as “yeth.”
Young children who are learning to speak may have interdental lisps until they are about four and a half, after which time, the lisp may disappear.
If an interdental lisp persists past this age, you might benefit from an assessment by a speech language pathologist.
2. Dentalized Lisp
A dentalised lisp is not an official diagnostic term.
It is an expression that speech therapists use to describe the way an individual pronounces certain sounds.
As your tongue rests on, or pushes against, your front teeth, the airflow is directed forwards, which produces a slightly muffled sound
As with the interdental lisp, young children might have dentalized lisps until they are about four and a half years old.
Most children grow out of it, but if the dentalized lisp remains past this age, you might benefit from an assessment by a speech therapist.
3. Lateral Lisp
A lateral lisp occurs when air escapes over the sides of the tongue.
A lateral lisp often sounds “wet” or “slushy” because you can hear the sounds of saliva.
The tongue position for a lateral lisp is very close to the normal position for an l sound.
Unlike interdental and dentalized lisps, lateral lisps are not characteristic of normal development.
Anyone with a lateral lisp could benefit from a speech therapist assessment.
4. Palatal Lisp
Like lateral lisps, palatal lisps are not found in typical speech development.
Here, the mid-section of the tongue meets the soft palate, quite far back.
If you try to produce a “sa” or “h” closely followed by a “y”, and prolong it, you have the sound.
Unlike interdental and dentalized lisps, palatal lisps are not characteristic of normal development
Anyone with a palatal lisp could benefit from a speech therapist assessment.
What Causes A Lisp?
Some lisps are just habitual.
Children at a young age may learn to pronounce things incorrectly, but they may grow out of it.
However, it can also be associated with developmental issues and other speech disorders.
In particular, speech therapy for orofacial myofunctional disorders often covers lisping as well.
This is because those with orofacial myofunctional disorders like tongue thrust and tongue tie often have difficulties with lisping.
How Can A Speech Therapist Help?
As you’ve seen in this article, a speech therapist can assess the kind of lisp you have and from there, work with you to come up with a plan to help you achieve your speech goals.
The assessment involves a speech therapist taking a detailed history of your communicative function, examines the anatomy of your mouth and the movements it can make, checking for tongue tie, palate structure and function, swallowing patterns, and more.
Your speech therapist will also take a speech and language sample for analysis, and observe your voice quality and fluency.
If you are looking for speech therapy for lisps in children, treatment for that tends to be short term and very successful, though individual experiences may vary.
Book Your Appointment with District Speech Today
If you’re ready to take the next step towards treating your lisp, or if you’d like to know more about speech therapy for children, book an appointment with District Speech today.
Our speech therapists work with a range of speech disorders and affectations, including lisps.
When you first meet your speech therapist, they will ask you questions about your speech history and about the goals you’d like to achieve.
You will also have the opportunity to ask them questions about the process.
From there, your speech therapist will work with you to create a plan that suits your personal needs.
1300 I St NW, #400E,
Washington, DC 20005
District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.