Top 5 Tips for Eliciting the “S” Sound

Is your student struggling with the “s” sound? Here are five of my favorite tips to try!

1. Sweeten up Your Speech

If your school allows, give your kiddo a small lollipop (Dum Dums work great!). Have the candy touch the child's alveolar ridge (i.e., the bumpy portion on the roof of your mouth; right behind your top teeth). This creates what you call the “sweet spot!” Have the child put his/her tongue up against the “sweet spot” before saying the “s” sound. This gives your student feedback on where his/her tongue needs to be placed, and it tastes great too!

2. “T” Time

Did you know? The placement for the “t” and the “s” sounds are almost the same! Have your kiddo produce “t” a few times, and gradually move the pattern to “t-t-t-t-tssssss.” This can also help the child learn where his/her tongue placement needs to be!

3. Incorporate Mirrors

As your students practice saying “s,” have them look at themselves in a mirror so they can see what it looks like as they are saying their sounds.

4. Get Some Air

Especially for students with lateral lisps (i.e., when air escapes over the sides of the tongue creating a "slushy" sound), it can help to think about using a “forward stream” of air when they make the “s” sound. This is so that their air doesn’t escape out the sides of their tongues! A straw can provide a great analogy for this too.

5. Find the Fun!

It’s so important to make articulation therapy fun! My students like to pretend that a silly snake is sliding down their arms with their hands as they say their “s” sound. No matter what, remember to praise and encourage your kiddos for the amazing efforts that they make every day!

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