Wednesday, 7 March 2018

What is a lateral lisp?

A lateral lisp is a type of functional speech disorder, where a child or adult has difficulty producing specific sounds.


The term “lisp” is not typically used by speech and language therapists as it is not very specific - there are actually four different types of lisp as well as all the other speech sound errors. Instead we may say “lateralisation of s” or “s articulation difficulties” depending on what the error is.

What is a lateral lisp?

As mentioned, a lateral lisp is a type of functional speech disorder. Unlike some other lisps, Lateral lisps are not found in typical speech development. The tongue position for a lateral lisp allows the air to flow over the sides of the tongue instead of over the front. This is the reason this sort of lisp is sometimes referred to as a 'slushy lisp'.


There is no known cause of a lisp. However, some professionals suggest that excessive or long-term use of dummies could be a contributing factor. This is not the case for all, as some children who have never used a dummy still go on to develop a lisp.


There are many different ways to work on Lateralised sounds, depending on what the sounds are.  Typically it will include listening activities, production of the sound in isolation (the sound alone) progressing onto words and sentences.

Sophie Harding
Speech and Language Therapist

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