How to improve speech with a lisp

Written by liza hollis
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How to improve speech with a lisp
Abnormal tongue placement is the most common cause for lisps. (BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

A lisp is a type of speech impediment that many people struggle with. It is largely caused by an irregular positioning of the tongue during speech known as a "tongue thrust." This could be the result of a number of problems, from allergies, thumb sucking or excessive bottle and pacifier sucking during infancy. With the right practice and understanding of what is causing the issue it is possible to improve your speech and potentially even eliminate the lisp completely.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Consider your tongue placement. Because lisps are most often caused by a tongue thrust, consider the location of the tongue while talking. Swallow; if your tongue is pushed behind your front teeth during the swallow than it is likely that you also speak with the tongue behind the teeth, which is causing the lisp. Practice swallowing with your tongue on the roof of your mouth or pressed against the bottom of your mouth. This will allow you to be more mindful of your tongue placement during speech.

  2. 2

    Determine whether it is a frontal or lateral lisp. This will help you best find exercises that best suit your specific problem. With a frontal lisp, the tongue moves forward between the front teeth while talking. With a lateral lisp, the speech sounds wet from the saliva that is audible from the sides of the tongue.

  3. 3

    Practice proper tongue placement. The only way to improve articulation is to repeatedly practice to form new habits. One method is to bite down, smile wide with teeth closed and then blow air out through the teeth. This will force the tongue back and demonstrate where the tongue should be while talking to help control the lisp.

  4. 4

    Consult an orthodontist. Abnormal tongue placement which causes a lisp could be the sign of an orthodontic problem. If the teeth are improperly aligned, an orthodontist can make adjustments which could permanently fix this speech impediment. This is perhaps the most costly solution, but it is also considered to be the most efficient.

  5. 5

    Work with a speech therapist. While understanding what's causing your lisp will help you to be more mindful of ways to curb the problem, a professional speech therapist will help prepare you with the tools and exercises you need to kick your lisp once and for all.

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