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How to Get Rid of a Lisp: 4 Effective Steps Explored

A lisp, or in other words, sigmatism, can make it challenging to communicate effectively. The good news is, that it mainly affects children, and you mostly overcome it naturally as you grow. Nonetheless, it may stay with you into adulthood and cause some self-consciousness or stigma. 

If you’ve ever felt the prick of self-consciousness when speaking or noticed others struggling to understand you, you’re not alone. According to research, it affects around 23% of Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) clients. This shows the significance of addressing this speech impediment.

The journey of overcoming a lisp starts with understanding the nature of your speech impediment. In this article, you’ll find effective strategies on how to get rid of a lisp to regain self-confidence. This journey, though demanding, is a path to clearer communication and greater self-assurance.

How to Get Rid of a Lisp

There are different types of lisps, but with consistent speech therapy and practice, it is possible for both children and adults to overcome tongue placement issues and articulate clearly. Follow these steps for the core strategies to reduce a lisp.

Step 1 Identify Your Type of Lisp


Figure out if you have a frontal, lateral, interdental or palatal lisp. Identifying the type will determine the best approach and exercises. If unsure, consult a speech-language pathologist for an assessment.

Expert Tip: Interdental, Dental, Lateral, and Palatal comprise four speech pattern types. It’s essential to understand which type you experience, so treatment can be more effective.

Step 2 Practice Tongue Placement Exercises


For frontal and interdental lisps, focus on keeping the tongue tip behind the top front teeth. Say “t-t-t-ssss” to get the positioning and airflow right. For lateral lisps, use the “butterfly technique” raising the sides of the tongue.

  1. Begin by practicing just the “s” or “z” sounds on their own. Sustain the “sss” sound for a few seconds at a time, paying close attention to proper tongue placement.
  2. Once you have the basic sounds down, start practicing simple real and nonsense words beginning, ending or containing the target sound. Examples: see, silly, mouse.
  3. Combine the words you can say correctly into short phrases and sentences. Practice these aloud to train your speech muscles for conversations.

Expert Tip: A Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) might use props like posture aids and tongue trainers. They act as training wheels to ensure you have a strong foundation when honing in on effective articulation practices. 

Step 3 Apply Skills in Real-Life Dialogues


When ready, have brief back-and-forth dialogues, taking note if your lisp reemerges. If so, don’t worry – more practice will solidify the patterns.

Step 4 Do Daily Home Practice


Consistency is key for overcoming speech errors. Daily practice of exercises from your Speech Language Pathologist is what will re-train mouth muscle memory.

With customized speech therapy and regular home practice, both kids and adults can learn to articulate past lisps clearly and accurately. Stick with and step-by-step, you’ll get there!

Expert Tip: The best way to correct a problem requires more than just regular speech therapy sessions. At-home exercises and strategies are the cornerstones of this correction process. They supplement professional help while encouraging consistent practice in order for it to be effective.

Understanding the Different Types of Lisps

Lisps do not generally make it difficult to understand your conversation. Remember Barbara Walters rocking a distinctive career despite her lisp? Or Michael Phelps, the athlete, the most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 medals, who had a lisp and he acknowledged its effect on his mental health. 

When I talked fast, I’d drop my Ls and add Ss to words, and if I tried to tell people I didn’t have a lisp, I’d usually lisp the word lisp.

Michael Phelps

You may also want to get rid of lisp due to fear of bullying and to get rid of it, you need to understand its various types. As one prepares for a mountain climb, one must first understand the terrain. This can also be said for those trying to manage lisps. Remember, different types of lisps require unique strategies to deal with them successfully.

Interdental Lisp

The interdental lip, commonly heard in speech, is distinguished by the tongue coming too far forward. This results in distorted production of “s” or “z” sounds – resembling a soft “th”. Correcting this type of lip requires learning to use proper tongue placement. Specifically, keeping it behind the front teeth when speaking. 

The good news is that up until 4.5 years old, most children’s issues naturally fix themselves. They don’t require extra help from professionals or at-home exercises to overcome their slight lisp. It’s like a natural process, like holding a pencil or riding a bike.

Even those still affected past this age can benefit from guidance and support while trying to rectify their speech problem.

Dental Lisp

When children have a dental lisp, it typically means the tongue is pushing too hard against their front teeth while making “s” and “z” sounds. This affects how those particular words sound when spoken, causing distortion of pronunciation. 

Fortunately, this type of speech impediment resolves itself by age 4 to 12 without any additional help or guidance. However, parents can use speech therapy and exercise to assist in developing correct placement habits. This parent-led intervention yields highly favorable results in overcoming speech impediments like lisp.

Some helpful exercises include practicing correct tongue positioning on its own for better support. Be cognizant about not putting pressure on the front teeth, particularly with “s” and “z” sounds.

Lateral Lisp

As we venture into our exploration, it is important to note the presence of lateral lisp. This speech issue happens when airflow is disrupted over both sides of the tongue. This results in a distortion of “s” and “z” sounds. 

It’s like trying to play a harmonica but having no control over where or how much air leaks out due to incorrect positioning. This particular problem doesn’t go on its own with age. In fact, professional assistance from Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) may be needed for improvement.

The goal should then be to focus on correct placement while keeping jaw stability during pronunciation. Doing so helps an individual experiencing this problem find relief as they identify the issue. The leakage primarily comes through their lips rather than anteriorly oriented towards the front part of their mouth.

Palatal Lisp

When it comes to the various forms of lip, a palatal lip is one of the most complex and difficult to address. This type necessitates that airflow be obstructed by using raised tongue contact with both hard and soft palate areas. 

It’s less widespread than frontal lips but still poses substantial challenges. It also requires precise positioning movements from those affected.

Gaining control over a palatal-based impediment can feel like ascending an arduous peak. However, you can still achieve it through determination as well as professional support. Such progress depends on exacting accuracy regarding pertinent elements, including proper tongue placement when moving downward toward resolution success.

Importance of Proper Tongue Placement

In working on lip correction, tongue placement is critical. Achieving and maintaining the correct positioning of the tongue while speaking are fundamental components to success in eradicating a lisp. 

Some people argue that the extensive use of pacifiers during childhood causes lisps as it affects tongue placement. Although this theory is mainly inaccurate, the significance of tongue placement to achieve clear articulation is paramount.

Tongue Positioning Techniques

Incorrect tongue placement is detrimental to getting rid of the lisp. Think of your tongue as a baton, in control and conducting the harmony from producing accurate sounds with one’s voice. 

When practicing yourself, be mindful of your tongue placement. The tip of your tongue should touch the back of your front teeth, while the whole tongue should remain low in your mouth. 

Speech therapy is an art that deserves to be more widely known. You cannot imagine the acrobatics your tongue mechanically performs in order to produce all the sounds of a language.

Jean-Dominique Bauby

You can exercise your tongue with a closed mouth throughout the day and try various positions. Try saying an “L” sound for a few minutes, holding your tongue in the correct position. Another exercise is to swirl your tongue in your mouth or practice making a knot with your tongue. Each of these exercises prepares us with greater awareness, strength, and positioning of our tongue, an essential part of successful articulation. 

Oral Motor Exercises

Oral motor exercises are like rehearsals that prep your speech muscles for a big show. They assist in improving the verbal skills needed to form distinct and clear speech. For example, blowing through straws is a very efficient exercise you can practice yourself. 

You can practice tongue twisters with a focus on  “s” and “z” sounds like the following:

  • Silly Sammy swiftly shushed six slippery snakes.
  • Fuzzy wuzzy was a bear with a lisp, and fuzzy wuzzy had no hair. So, fuzzy wuzzy wasn’t very fuzzy, was he?
  • Sally sells seashells by the seashore, but with her lisp, she slips and stumbles, selling silly shells instead.
  • Larry’s lisp led to lively laughs as he listed lots of lemon-flavored lollipops.
  • A slick, slimy snail slid slowly southward, slurring its speech with a slight lisp.

You can benefit from these exercises by making these physical tasks routine within your daily practice. It’ll increase vocal clarity during speeches or presentations given at any moment’s notice.

Related: How to Stop Stuttering? A Practical Guide to Improving Speech Fluency

Seeking Professional Help from a Speech Language Pathologist

Self-remedy cannot be a solution to every speech disorder. If you want to fix a problem, an experienced Speech Language Pathologist can be invaluable. These professionals have the knowledge and skills to guide you through this process. They have gone through similar journeys and understand it well enough to be your guide.

How SLPs Evaluate and Treat Lisps

A tailored road map is needed for a successful journey. An SLP provides this by evaluating an individual’s speech patterns and functional speech disorders to identify the origin of any lisps. It is then followed up with the development of customized treatment plans accordingly.

This plan concerning articulation and phonological issues could include a personalized or general approach. It consists of oral exercises focused on proper pronunciation, tongue movements training, and auditory distinction practice. It also has other methods explicitly intended according to the user’s needs.

Practicing Words and Phrases

Perfecting your speech is achievable through diligent practice and repetition of words and phrases. Every improvement starts by focusing on problematic sounds. After that, you can move on to more complex language structures. It’s a bit like building a bridge for clearer communication. Consistent repeating helps the cause toward achieving flawless articulation.

Related: How to Enunciate Better? 15 Tips to Improve Enunciation

Targeting Problematic Sounds

Learning to pronounce troublesome sounds, particularly the “s” and “z” sounds in different places of a word, is often the start of attaining crisp speech. View these particular consonants as intricate tangles that need untangling.

In order to unravel those knots, it’s beneficial to practice words with distinct noises at all positions (e.g., first syllable or last). It would be like honing scales on an instrument – going steady while focusing on accuracy before gradually upping the tempo over time. 

Following consistent drills will make masterful proficiency possible when pronouncing these challenging phonemes in no time.

Progressing to Sentences and Conversations

After becoming familiar with individual words, forming sentences and communicating orally is the next step. This allows you to put your language-learning skills into action in real-life scenarios. It’s like taking off those training wheels.

Begin by putting together basic phrases using recognized terms. Then, slowly advance toward more complicated expressions and conversations. Although there will be difficulty along the way, having fortitude plus excellent communication abilities can lead to success eventually.

Techniques for Lisp Correction

Try these at-home methods to supplement work across formal speech therapy sessions.

Mirror Practice

By practicing in front of the mirror, you can easily observe your tongue and mouth movements. You can pinpoint the mistakes in your tongue placement and work on correcting them. A mirror is a great companion to help with your speech impediments and to regain confidence.

Having a personal and genuine feedback system right in front of you is just like having a personal coach by your side at all times. And remember: with enough perseverance comes success.

Syllable Repetition

Syllable repetition exercises are fundamental tools – just as scales play an essential role in learning music pieces. They train muscle memory and accuracy when speaking aloud certain syllables. Some examples can be “sa”, “se”, “si” etc.

You can also experiment using techniques like “exploding T” These exercises serve to enhance clear communication skills that rely on precision articulation.

Relaxation and Breathing Exercises

Speech involves more than just the tongue and mouth – it also requires mental clarity. Relaxation and breathing exercises help reduce tension before engaging in any conversation. Similarly, tongue-strengthening practices are designed to make speaking easier. They help by developing muscles around the tongue. 

You can also practice breathing exercises to overcome difficulty in communication. Inhaling through the nose and exhaling slowly from your mouth can work wonders. It’ll not only regulate breaths but also diminish the anxiety that comes with communicative difficulty as well.


The route to improved and comprehensible speech is challenging but achievable with the proper assistance. To get there, mastering tongue placement by repeating words and phrases at home is essential. Not to undermine the significance of seeking professional help along this journey. 

By staying persistent and patient when using these tools, you can reach your goal of clear articulation.

Q & A How to Get Rid of a Lisp

The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always contact your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before starting, changing, or stopping any kind of health treatment.

Is it possible to get rid of a lisp?

Speech therapy can help an individual improve their production of speech sounds, leading to the removal of any lisp. With this form of therapy, it is possible to overcome such a challenge and bring more clarity to your speech.

What causes lisps?

Incorrect positioning and movement of the tongue can block off airflow, resulting in a leak. This obstructs the production of “z” sounds as well as other sounds like “s”.

Will a lisp correct itself?

The type of lisp will determine the fate of its correction. A frontal lisp, for example, may naturally resolve by age four and a half. On the other hand, more extreme forms could necessitate speech therapy.

Do braces fix lisp?

Orthodontic treatment can help correct the placement of your tongue. In fact, it is often the root cause of a lisp. This misplacement typically occurs due to an overbite or gaps between teeth that stop it from being in its proper place.

What are the different types of lisps?

Four types of lisps exist: interdental, dental, lateral, and palatal. These various kinds refer to the type of sound produced by a particular manner in which one articulates sound while speaking.

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