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Adult Articulation & Lisp Therapy
Articulation is the coordination of the tongue, jaw, lips, palate, voice and air to produce speech, but Articulation Therapy is not the same as "speaking clearly" or "enunciating words". Articulation Therapy is appropriate for individuals who have differences in patterns of speech sound production. At SpeechAppeal, we most often work with adults on Lisp Therapy and R-Sound Remediation.
Adults are often incorrectly led to believe that articulation therapy past childhood is hopeless, but we're here to tell you otherwise!
Articulation therapy for adults is different than for children as adults learn and apply information differently. Our clinicians have adult-specific experience with articulation therapy, and use a variety of adult-centric techniques, such as explicit learning of sound production, auditory training and discrimination training between old and new patterns, direct treatment, drill practice, and use of a systematic approach to application to reduce associated fears and anxieties that have developed in relation to having a speech difference.
A lisp is a distortion of speech sounds, most commonly the "s" and "z" sounds, but a lisp can also affect the “ch”, “j”, “sh” and “zh” (as in “beige”) sounds.
The distortion is sound production is created due to the tongue placement. You might think of it as an airflow problem—the tongue is directing airflow through the mouth, but the air is ending up at a less ideal place.
To produce an /s/ sound, the tongue is positioned to direct airflow from the lungs through a very narrow groove in the middle of the tongue, which produces turbulence in the airstream. We hear this as a high-pitched hissing sound; because it is such a high-frequency, high-energy sound (as well as being one of the most frequent sounds in English), any deviations in this sound tend to be quite obvious to listeners.
Sometimes lisps are caused by structural issues, such as dental or jaw alignment. In this case, your clinician can work with you to find the most optimal production in the presence of a structural issue.
Let's Talk About Lisps
Here, the tongue fully protrudes between the teeth, as it also does for the “th” sounds, resulting in a “dull” sound. For example, the word “pass” may sound like “path”.
Similar to an interdental lisp, the tongue is positioned farther forward than a typical /s/, but does not fully protrude from between the teeth. The tongue may be positioned very close to or directly against the teeth. The resulting distortion may be pronounced or subtle depending on the positioning of the tongue.
Instead of flowing through the narrow groove in the middle of the tongue, the air with a lateral lisp flows around the sides of the tongue, resulting is a "slushy" sound.
With a palatal lisp, the air is directed toward the hard palate, which is the bony “roof” of the mouth behind the teeth. Here, the tongue is positioned too far back. As the tongue verge into “sh” territory and takes on a “shushy” sound (Think: Sean Connery).
Should I Really Correct A Lisp?
Most times, a lisp can be heard as a difference in production and does not greatly impact how well your listener can comprehend what you're saying. For this reason, many adults are unbothered by a lisp, and that's okay!
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