Markham Stoufville Hospital Child Development Programs

My child has a lisp. What should I do?

Some children present with what is known as a lisp. There are two kinds of lisps:

Frontal Lisp – is the most common and is characterized by protrusion of the tongue tip between the front teeth usually during the production of ‘S’ and ‘Z’ sounds resulting in a ‘TH’ sound, e.g. sun = “THUN”.

Lateral Lisp – is less common and is characterized by the sides of the tongue protruding between the molars also during the production of ‘S’ and ‘Z’ sounds resulting in a ‘slushy’ ‘SHLL’ sound, e.g. soup = “SHLLOUP”.

Children learn to produce different sounds at different times. The ‘S’ and ‘Z’ sounds are often only mastered by the time a child is 7 or 8 years old. The presence of a lisp does not typically affect how well a child’s speech is understood though it does make his speech sound different from other children at school.

If your child is demonstrating a lisp – model a clear and exaggerated ‘S’ sound by clenching your front teeth and making a BIG smile. Emphasize the spreading of your lips. When your child says “thun” for sun, it’s best if you repeat the word stressing the ‘S’ sound (“SSSSun”). You can remind your child to keep his tongue in his mouth by saying “Oops! I saw your tongue. Stay in your house Mr. Tongue!” Also encourage your child to keep his tongue tip anchored behind his lower front teeth by saying “Let’s pretend Mr. Tongue is standing at the bottom window” (your teeth are like windows!)
Most of all make it FUN!!!