One of the more challenging sounds to correct in a child is a frontal lisp. It is hard to retrain the tongue to be placed accurately behind the teeth rather than protrude forward. Sometimes progress is faster than others.
I have blogged about success using techniques from Pam Marshalla’s excellent seminar on “Practical Therapy Tips for Persistent Articulation Errors: Frontal LIsp, Lateral Lisp and Distorted R.” Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised at how quickly a child picks up on the cues and arrives at a correct production.
That is what happened with 6 year-old Sam last week. (I don’t work on correcting a frontal lisp until a child is 6 or 7 years old.) Using some of the techniques I learned from Pam as well as others I started with a long “E” and progressed from “E” to “T”, encouraging him to extend the “T” and get extra air flow. He actually started to say an “S” as he prolonged the “T”. Then I modeled “EATS”, adding the “S” to make “TS,” stabilizing the place for accuracy. He was able to repeat final TS words (eats, hits, waits, wants, etc.) so I left him after the first session with a list of final TS words to practice. The next session, built on “EATS” and we added “E” at the end for “EATSEE” still releasing lots of air after the “T”. Eventually he could separate it to “EAT SEE” and he had an initial “S” sound! After that session I gave him a list of initial “S” words to practice and try in sentences if he could. The practice piece is essential because I am asking him to change a habit which is hard. He is re-training his tongue and jaw, to go to a new place for his “S” sound.
It is important to take into account jaw placement when evaluating and treating a frontal lisp. According to Pam Marshalla, a classical frontal lisp is a tongue and jaw placement problem because a child tends to lower his jaw when the tongue is protruded in a lisp. Work on jaw stability is an important part of therapy to correct a lisp.