What About That Lateral Lisp?

As speech therapists, we likely have all encountered that student with the lateral lisp: their "s" sounds "slushy" as air escapes out of the sides of the mouth. You've tried everything: blowing air through a straw, using a lollipop to facilitate tongue placement, you name it! None of your cues seem to work.

I have a student like this at my current school. After I'd tried everything in my bag of tricks, I started doing some research on evidence-based practice for this sound. This lead me to Graham Speech Therapy, where she talks about cognitive reframing and the "flat tire sound." After a month of using this new technique, my student is now at the conversation level!

Here's how it works:

  1. Tell your student you are no longer working on "s" anymore. Instead, you are going to be targeting a new sound, the "fat tire sound."
  2. Have your student start by producing the "t" sound. This is because "t" is used for placement of "s."
  3. Once this is established, have them draw out their "t" sound, as in "tssssss." Tell them this is their new sound, the "flat tire sound!"
  4. Start including this at the end of words, with words like "mats" and "pats." (Graham, 2018).

Of course, not every technique will work for every student! This is just another tool to add to your toolbox. Best of luck to you and your students!

-Erika Baldwin, M.S., CCC-SLP


Graham, A. (2018, February 28). The "secret" to correcting lateral lisps... Graham Speech Therapy, LLC. http://www.grahamspeechtherapy.com/blog/the-secret-to-correcting-lateral-lisps