How Long to Fix a Lateral Lisp?

By Pam Marshalla

Q: How long should it take to establish midline airstream when a client has a lateral lisp?

This depends upon what you are talking about. Are you trying to figure out how long it should take you to obtain the client’s first midline sibilant, or to finish the entire program?

To be very honest, an SLP with no specific training on how to treat a lateral lisp may NEVER figure out how to get a correct set of midline sibilant sounds out of his/her client. The client may remain in therapy for years with no change.

On the other hand, an SLP with good training, or one who also has figured this out on his/her own, can get a good S, TS, Sh, or Ch out of a client in about five minutes. This depends on the therapist’s skill.

The finishing of the program can take a long time, however. Once a client has produced the first sound correctly, it can take more than a full calendar year to fix the entire system all the way through to complete carryover.

However!! I have seen kids fix up all six lateral sibilants in one week! The rate of change all depends upon the following:

  1. Does the SLP know what s/he is doing?
  2. Does the client have the cognitive skills to understand what is going on?
  3. Does the client have the auditory discriminations skills to do the work?
  4. Does the client have the oral-motor skills to achieve the positions?
  5. Does the SLP know how to train the positions if the client can’t do them?
  6. Does the client have the motivation to change?

If the answer to all of these questions is “Yes”, then therapy should go very fast.

If the answer to any of these questions is “No”, (especially #1 and #5), then this can take a very long time, and some clients will never fix their lateral lisp.

2 thoughts on “How Long to Fix a Lateral Lisp?”

  1. Pam. I am in my first year as an SLP and never feel like I know what I’m doing. I do as much research online (your website, SLP blogs etc.) as I have time for, and I have picked up techniques here and there, but there is still so much I simply do not know. I feel like I am letting my students down, letting families down, but trying to remain confident and competent around my collegues and families, all while feeling so inadequate (on the inside). This, as you can imagine is making me go crazy inside. I have spent more money on materials, workshops, and online resources than I even want to think about this year, and working in the schools, I am wondering how I will ever continue doing this job. 🙁 Nobody seems to understand either when I try to explain my situation.

    I love the profession, and your website has been a saving grace, and I am so eager to learn as much as I can, but I feel like I am slowly going crazy, and cannot mentally handle the demands of the job.

    What can you recommend so that I will feel more competent and actually know what I am doing? I have many students with lisps and well I relate to #1 and #5. These two will cause many frustrations, among other things in public schools….

    I am considering purchasing your lisp book, and carryover articulation book. Will I know (not fully), but at least partially what I am doing with lisp kiddos?

    1. Laura-
      I would suggest you stop buying and reading other people’s materials and start simply paying more attention to your clients.

      Also stop trying to teach them things and start observing them very carefully. THEY will show you what they need.

      This is how I was trained.

      Today’s professors have brain-washed all you new grads into thinking that the answer is “out there” and has been “proven” and all you have to do is find the right article or materials or whatever.

      But that is not how it works.

      Most of therapy is simply sitting back and carefully observing what your clients are doing, determining for yourself what might make them a better communicator, and making up a simple activity to teach them that.

      It is ALLLLLLL a process of trial and error.

      Relax and let you clients show you what they need.

      Hope that helps-

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