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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    When should I seek treatment for my child's lisp?

    My child is almost 3 and has a lisp that sprays when he talks. When is the appropriate age to seek help? How successful is treatment?
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  • 1

    Thanks

    kaycee

    HealthShare Member

    If it is an interdental lisp (where his tongue sticks out between his teeth) this is considered typical until about four years old. If it is a lateral lisp which might sound ‘slushy’ taking him in for a speech pathology assessment is probably a good idea however therapy might not start until he is a bit older depending on how he intiailly responds.  - Karina Speech Pathologist

  • 1

    Thanks

    Rachel Tosh

    Speech Pathologist

    Rachel is a speech pathologist specialising in speech, language, literacy and feeding therapy with more than 10 years of experience. Her aim is to help … View Profile

    Just to add to Kaycee's response - if he is “spraying” when he talks it is probably worth seeing a speech pathologist and getting an assessment done now as I would not consider it normal at any age for a child to have significant saliva loss when trying to articulate sounds. It is also more likely indicative of a lateral lisp (as mentioned previously) which basically means the air is coming over the sides of the tongue (lateral = side) rather than through the centre which is a disordered speech error and will require treatment. The sooner the better. If you wait until your child is older it can potentially be harder to correct the motor pattern associated with this type of lisp so I would recommend getting an assessment now.

  • 1

    Thanks

    Sharon Moore

    Speech Pathologist

    I am a Speech Pathologist with 30 years clinical experience, working over the years with a wide range of clients with communication and swallowing disorders. … View Profile

    In addition to the feedback that has been provided by the previous 2 posts, another consideration is the child's medical history and dental/occlusal health. Any medical condition that results in a child mouth breathing will encourage forward tongue posture, that can be associated with an interdental lisp  &/or less commonly, the lateralisation of the ‘s’ and ‘z’ sounds. This habit ‘tongue fronted’ posture  can also have a flow on effect to other speech sounds. These factors are also considerations in deciding when to assess and treat. Tongue fronted postures can also influence bone and dental growth patterns.
    With Kind Regards
    Sharon Moore

  • 1

    Thanks

    Debra-Ann Tanne

    Speech Pathologist

    I am a speech pathologist working across a range of communication areas, including speech, language, auditory processing, fluency and literacy skills.I am passionate abut optimising … View Profile

    There is no set age at which to start treatment and one must consider each case quite individually. I would say that it is worthwhile gaining professional assessment as the spraying of saliva indicates that there are several things at play in this case. Failing to address this may result in a more entrenched pattern that is challenging to remediate at a later stage.
    Professional opinion is worhtwhile.

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