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Is a Lisp Normal in Preschool?

As children begin to develop their speech and language skills, it is important to remember that speech sounds are acquired in specific patterns around approximate age ranges. Therefore, most Blog-Lisp-Main-Landscapechildren go through periods of development where their overall speech intelligibility is reduced.

In order to understand if a lisp is considered normal, one must first understand what a lisp actually is. Lisps can present themselves in a different manner, primarily as lateral and interdental, with misarticulations primarily on /s/ and /z/, though productions of “sh,” “ch,” and “j” are typically impacted as well. In order to accurately produce these speech sounds, airflow needs to be channeled down the middle of the tongue.

A lateral lisp occurs when the airflow passes over the sides of the tongue, which causes significantly distorted production of the targeted speech sounds. The manner of the production will have a “slushy” quality, and lateralized productions of speech sounds can be difficult to correct.

Another common lisp is the interdental lisp, in which the tongue protrudes between the upper and lower teeth distorting the airflow that is forced through the space during speech production. This type of lisp is often heard as a substituted “th” rather than an accurate /s/ or /z/.

In the preschool years, children are expected to have mastery of early speech sounds, and errors on later-developing speech sounds are considered typical. Therefore, distortions of /s/ and /z/ that present themselves as a lisp are often seen in children this age. However, around the age of five when children enter kindergarten, they should be more accurate with their speech sound production skills.

If a child continues to present with difficulty on particular sounds, further assessment may be beneficial. This is particularly true if the child presents with a lateralized lisp, as speech-language therapy is warranted to help re-mediate the place and manner of the errors. Evaluation is also recommended if the child presents with either inconsistent productions of speech sounds, or is significantly difficult to understand, regardless of age.

Read our blog on what to expect in a pediatric speech and language evaluation.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Meghan Grant

Meghan Grant

Meghan Grant, M.S. CCC-SLP is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist who graduated from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science as well as Master of Science in Communication Disorders and Sciences. Meghan is accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is certified in Hippotherapy, the Sequential Oral-Sensory (SOS) Approach to Feeding, and the P.R.O.M.P.T technique for increasing verbal communication. Meghan is dedicated to improving the lives of her clients by promoting functional communication skills and helping children reach their maximum potential.

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1 reply
  1. Tyler Meredith says:

    It’s interesting that lisps are fairly common among children of preschool age. It makes sense that this is the case as they are still learning how to pronounce everything. I’ll have to keep this in mind when sending him to preschool to make sure he learns everything properly. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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