2 Best Ways to Fix a Lateral Lisp

2 Best Ways to Fix a Lateral Lisp

Parents are often concerned when their child’s speech does not sound correct. They want them to sound like everyone else. Often, what they might be hearing is a lisp. There are a few kids. The first is a frontal lisp which happens when the child’s tongue sticks out between or touches the front teeth. What should be an “s” sound is produced more like a /th/ sound. Many children go through a normal phase of producing a frontal lisp; some will outgrow it and some will need a bit of speech therapy for a speech delay to help them along. A lateral lisp, which we discuss here is different.


A lateral lisp happens when air escapes over the sides of the tongue and into or past the cheeks. It can happen with several sounds like:  /s/, /z/, /sh/, /ch/ /zh/, and /dj/.  Children with a lateral lisp may sound like their “s” sound is “slushy”. The lateral lisp is not considered developmental, meaning children with lateral lisps are not likely to outgrow it on their own and will require speech therapy to correct the sound and production.


Watch this video to see 2 of the best ways to fix a lateral lisp and below you can read a description of each one:



1. Flat Tire….tttttsssss


Give the child a mental picture of a flat tire and don’t even bother telling them you will work on the “s” sound. Here is how you do it:

  1. Model and have the child quick repetitions of the /t/ sound (“t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t”), which anchors the lateral edges of the tongue against their teeth.
  2. When step 1 is stable, ask the child to “hold out” the /t/ sound.  This makes them produce (by mistake) a non-lateralized /s/ sound (“t-t-t-t-t-t-tsssss”).

Once your child has practiced this many times, try saying words like “cats” or “bats” that have a “ts” together at the end of the word.


2. Straw Technique


Use a straw to contrast changing the position of the tongue and how to direct the stream of air flowing over the tongue. Place a drinking straw in front of your child’s mouth right in the middle, and ask them to blow air down the center.


When they are making the lateral lisp “s” the sound will be different and air will flow out the sides. Try it yourself first and then show your child how you do it. Ask them to discriminate between the sound when you are doing it so they can have a better understanding of what to listen for when they do it.


You’ll have to ask your child to practice this quite a few times (40? 50?) before it becomes stable.


Parent, do you want more information about this technique for lisping, or help with speech therapy online? A lateral lisp is something your child can easily work on with a speech therapist online.


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We care about every child and adult achieving their speech, language and communication goals. You can start speech therapy online now with a certified speech language therapist. We’ll discuss your personal needs, develop an individualized treatment plan, and schedule affordable online therapy sessions online at your convenience.

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