Lisping in Children – Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

Lisping in Children – Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

I remember Manoj uncle’s son once said – “Hi Aunty, pleath thit here”. I smiled at him. But the confused mind wondered for a moment what he actually meant. I looked at uncle puzzled; he conveyed what the sweet little boy wanted to convey. The little boy meant was very sweet to say “Please sit here”. It is not uncommon to see some children “lisping”. We will discuss about Lisping – Signs, Symptoms & Treatment.

What is Lisping? Signs & Symptoms

Lisping is a functional speech disorder in children generally below the age of 5 years. It is the inability of a child to pronounce the consonants like s, z, sh, l, r.
Lisping can occur in 4 different ways – Interdental, Dentalized, Lateral & Palatial.

Why does Lisping occur?

Every child id different. It might not always be possible to ascertain the reason. However, one of the most common causes experts say are excessive sucking of the thumb, overuse of pacifiers & prolonged bottle feeding. Prolonged habit of sucking the thumb causes to push out the teeth from their normal position, generally outwards. This interferes with their speech patterns & results in lisping.

Lisping in children

Is Lisping A Concern?

Do not fret. Lisping is common in many children & absolutely normal if it occurs upto the age of 4.5-5years. If it persists longer than 8, you can probably can consult a speech therapist who will guide your child through it. It is rare to see lisping in children beyond 6 years. However, remember, these teeth are milk teeth & the permanent ones most likely will find the right position & your child in company & with your support will start pronouncing all the words correctly.

How can Lisping be treated?

Articulation Therapy includes introducing the exercises that gradually help the child identify the differences in the words & having a controlled speech which by practice become a habit to pronounce the words & sentences perfectly right.

Can Lisping affect my child?

Unfortunately, it can. Lisping does affect your child. How much – depends largely on how you deal with it & how supportive you are.

a) Negative feelings of inferiority, being “different”, being mocked at, unwilling to socialize, low self esteem are very common sights.
b) In some cases children who are stressed out end up bed-wetting or will insist on sleeping with light on.
c) They may experience respiratory disorders.


What should I do as a parent to deal with Lisping?

The first step to deal with the situation is to NOT MOCK YOUR CHILD – NOT AT HOME & NOT IN FRONT OF OTHERS. What else can you do?

1) As a parent, you should take efforts in understanding what your child is trying to communicate with patience instead of displaying irritation & anger.
2) If the child is being mocked at, you should be the pillar of strength & encouragement and politely teach your child to handle the situation.
3) You can break the words into smaller fragments or syllables and make the child repeat.
4) What the child feels has a great impact on his self-confidence. Don’t kill it. He may end up having an inferiority complex at home & at school. So make him feel loved. Not many people around will make him feel the way you do.
5) Speak to his teacher & request for special attention at school.

Can we prevent Lisping? How?

Yes, to a certain extent. You can encourage to sip from a straw instead of bottle feeding. Take extra care of allergies if your child is prone to infections in the respiratory tract. Check for the alignment of teeth periodically. Afterall, prevention is better than cure.

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