One of the most common speech and language difficulties that affects both children and adults alike is the common lisp. Lisping is a mispronunciation of the silibant /s/ and /z/ sounds, and can be attributed to any of several different causes. Some lisps are the result of an oral deformity or injury, which causes the /s/ and /z/ sounds to become skewed. Many lisps, however, are formed early on during childhood out of habit, as a result of stress, or for attention, and can last into adulthood if left untreated.
There are four main kinds of lisps:
- The Interdental Lisp, or Frontal Lisp, in which the tongue protrudes between the front teeth, creating a /th/ sound where an /s/ or /z/ sound should be.
- The Dentalised Lisp, in which the tongue presses against the front teeth or rests against them (but does not protrude between them).
- The Palatal Lisp, one of the more uncommon lisp forms, wherein the tongue comes into contact with the soft palate, which is located at the far back part of the roof of the mouth.
- The Lateral Lisp, sometimes known as a Wet Lisp, or Slushy Lisp, because the air flows over the sides of the tongue, creating a slushy lisp sound.
Both interdental (frontal) lisps and dentalised lisps can often occur in young children under the age of five, who are still learning how to produce the /s/ and /z/ sounds correctly, and these lisps often go away on their own. However, if the lisp persists beyond age five, then it could be a true speech problem that needs to be assessed and treated.
Most people who have lisps are easy to understand when they speak, but many suffer a great deal from constant embarrassment, teasing, self-consciousness, and frustration at not being able to produce certain sounds the way that they wish to. One of the main questions that people with lisps ask is, “Is it really possible to get rid of my lisp forever?” Fortunately, the answer is yes. It is possible to get rid of your lisp, and with proper time, effort, and treatment, people are successful in overcoming even the most severe lisping problems.
The best way to truly get rid of your lisp forever, without having a relapse, is to be extremely diligent in your efforts, no matter what kind of program or treatment you’re following. Speech Language Pathologists can help you to assess what kind of lisp you have, and provide a series of treatment sessions to help you to eliminate your lisp over time. However, be forewarned: this route, while usually effective, can be very expensive. The initial evaluation alone may cost a few hundred dollars ($300-$500), and for each hour-long session afterward, you can usually expect to pay around $50- $80, over the course of several months or more of treatment.
There are also numerous self-help programs that you can try, with the goal of being able to get rid of your lisp on your own at home. The important thing to remember is that if you go this route, you must be self-motivated and push yourself to practice on your own, if you truly want to see results. Using a self-help program is usually much less expensive than consulting professional help. A self-help lisp program might cost between $100- $150 in total (or sometimes as little as $70-$80), as opposed to possibly paying as much as $600-$1,000 or more for sessions with a Speech Language Pathologist. Therefore, it would be advisable to invest first in a good quality self-help guide or program to see what you are capable of accomplishing on your own, at a much lower cost. If you find that you are unsuccessful on your own, the next step would be to seek professional treatment.
Remember, the method that you use to get rid of your lisp is not as important as the result, (which is, of course, to speak clearly, confidently, and lisp-free). But in order to attain that result, you’re still going to have to do the work. If you are prepared to put in the necessary time and effort, then you have a high chance of success. However, if you can’t get yourself to practice, do your exercises, and be open-minded with a positive attitude, then even the best Speech Language Pathologist in the world can’t help you. Getting rid of your lisp forever is possible, but in the end it’s up to you to make it happen for yourself. Be diligent, don’t become overwhelmed with frustration, keep trying, learn from your mistakes, and soon you’ll be another one of the many people in the world who has freed themselves from their lisping problem once and for all.