According to Joni and Friends, the International Disability Center, around 2.7 million Americans have speech impediments, with 335,000 of those being children under the age of 18. Speech impediments can be any number of different things, from stuttering, mumbling, lisping, or stammering. Speech impediments can be solved with the help of a speech therapist, but those who may not have that option available to them, can try doing oral speech exercises at home.
One of the reasons someone may be suffering from a speech impediment may be as simple as the tongue. Your tongue is the strongest muscle in your body, and learning how to control it can be rather difficult, especially for children. There are some tongue placement exercises that can help strengthen the movement of your tongue.
With all of these exercises, the key is repetition. Keep focusing on the sounds and words you are saying, starting slowly and eventually building your way up to becoming a fluent speaker.
"S" Sound or a Lisp
The key for all of these exercises is overcompensation. Having a mirror handy is helpful because you can see the way your tongue is physically working when you are trying to make a certain sound. For example, when trying to make the "s" sound, press your teeth firmly together, placing your tongue at the top of your teeth. Now blow or push air through you teeth, creating the "s" sound. Another tip is to pull the corners of your mouth as far back as they can go, so you can watch yourself make the noise.
The most common way people mispronounce the "r" sound is with a "w" sound instead. Again, overcompensate by growling out an "r" sound, while placing the back of your tongue against the back of your mouth and teeth. Start with your teeth together to create the "growl." When you get more comfortable, unclench your teeth and continue to practice the "r" sound.
End this exercise with writing down 10 "r" words, with four words starting with "r," three words with "r" in the middle, and three words with "r" in the ending. Repeatedly say the words over and over, and when you have a slip up, stop and correctly make the "r" sound by itself, and then continue back with the words.
To make a "t" sound, you are essentially blowing a small bit of breath out of you, hitting your tongue at the top of the back of your front teeth to make the actual sound. To focus on getting the tongue to the right spot every time, drink out of a straw. Place the straw behind your teeth, and hold it in place with your tongue. If you're working with children, make it fun by making them a smoothie or chocolate milkshake. Alternate between holding the straw with your tongue, while taking a drink and then practicing the "t" sound without the straw in your mouth.
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