How we can help people with a lisp

A lisp is a speech impediment and often results in a client having difficulty in producing the sounds ‘s’ and ‘z’. This results in the client substituting these sounds for a ‘th’ sound. This can cause communication difficulties depending upon severity and also knock a person’s confidence.

What is a lisp?

A lisp develops through incorrect placement of the tongue during speech production most commonly with the sounds of ‘s’ and ‘z’. A lisp can be categorised into the following:

A frontal lisp

A frontal lisp is when the tongue is protruding slightly through the front of the teeth. This leads to the ‘s’ and ‘z’ sounds beginning to sound like ‘th’ sounds.

A lateral lisp

A lateral lisp is when air is escaping along the sides of the tongue. This leads to speech sounding wet as the saliva can be heard as well as the sound of the speech sound.

A nasal lisp

A nasal lisp is when the entire air stream is escaping through the nose making the voice sound nasal with no air escaping through the mouth.

A strident lisp

A strident lisp is when there is a high pitched whistling sound escaping from the oral cavity due to incomplete closure of the tongue and the palate or teeth.

A palatal lisp

A palatal lisp is where the middle of the tongue touches the palate (roof of your mouth) during the ‘s’ and ‘z’ sounds.

Interdental lisp

An interdental lisp is when the tongue protrudes between the teeth during the sound production of ‘s’ and ‘z’. This leads to a ‘th’ sound instead.

What causes a lisp?

A cause of a lisp can be identified as either psychological or physiological. This is because there may be a medical reason for someone to have a lisp, or it may be more to do with stress or trauma. Although it can be categorised this way, there is no exact cause for a lisp and is more to do with habitual speech patterns when speech is developing.

What problems caused by a lisp can SLT UK help with?

Speech sound and general communication problems caused by a lisp can be improved through speech and language therapy.

By working on these areas, a client may develop coping strategies to overcome their lisp and improve the fluency of their speech. As a lisp is habitual, the more work a client can put in outside of speech and language therapy sessions, the more progress a client will make.

How does speech and language therapy help a lisp?

Speech and language therapy can improve a client’s communication skills and help them to develop coping strategies and management of their lisp. This may result in a client becoming more confident and therefore more fluent in their production of speech. A client may also be able to change the way in which they produce a certain speech sound.

Speech and language therapy can be greatly beneficial to someone who has a lisp. Speech and language therapy may reduce a patient's stress and anxiety whilst increasing their confidence. This may open up more work and social opportunities for the individual as their speech continues to improve.

What would speech and language therapy treatment for a lisp involve?

Speech and language therapy may include assessments, reports, reviews, therapy programmes, support groups, training, advice and education. Specific speech and language therapy treatment for a lisp would involve articulation therapy.


A lisp is a habitual method of speech production and can differ in severity depending upon each individual. A lisp can be either inter dental or lateral and Speech and language therapy can help an individual cope with or change the way in which they produce certain speech sounds.

If you feel you may benefit from speech and language therapy or would like any more information on our services please email or call 0330 088 5643.

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Speech disorders Cluttering Stuttering Lisp Speech sound disorder Dysarthia
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