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This is an articulation disorder that means that the individual cannot produce the /s/ sound correctly.  The most common types of lisps are called “frontal lisp” and “lateral lisp”. 

In a frontal lisp, the individual places his tongue tip too far forward in his mouth. It may be visible between the front teeth or be pushed up against them.   This distortion may be hard to hear but will call attention to the person’s speech.

A frontal lisp may sound as if the person is producing a “th” sound instead of the /s/.


·   The child’s speech may sound like “thumb” when he wants to say “some”.


In a lateral lisp the tongue does not direct a tiny stream of air out the front of the mouth.  Instead, the airstrip leaks out over the sides of the mouth, causing a “slushy” sound.


·   The child’s speech may sound like “shore” when he wants to say “sore”.


A lateral lisp can be trickier to diagnose and treat.  When a lateral lisp is discovered, it is important to rule out a myofunctional disorder.

Tip for Parents:

Your child must be able to move her tongue freely in order to produce a good /s/.  If she has huge tonsils, the tongue may be resting too far forward in the mouth, making it impossible for her to produce the sound correctly.

Does your child have a tongue tie?  This is extra tissue that may be keeping her tongue from moving to the right spot in the mouth.  (Many people who have a tongue tie have no trouble with speech.)

Your child's pediatrician will be able to help evaluate your child's oral structure.  He may refer you to an ENT specialist to further investigate either of those issues.

Get an evaluation from an ASHA-certified SLP after your child has been evaluated by her doctor.

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