The Lateral “Sh”

By Pam Marshalla

Q: How do you train a midline sibilant when a client has a lateral lisp on “Sh”?

There are many ways to develop a midline groove for the sibilants. The simplest way to get a midline groove for “Sh” is to use what Van Riper called the Association Method. The association method is the process of using a phoneme that the client already can produce to learn the new phoneme.

The old-timers usually recommended that we use “Long E,” as in the word “eat.” to teach “Sh”. I do this as follows:

  1. Have the client produce a “Long E” (as in the word “eat”). Exaggerate the “E” by smiling very broadly. This causes the tongue to spread in the rear and anchor its back-lateral margins up on the palate or molars. The position of the tongue for this exaggerated “E” is just about the same as that required for “Sh”.
  2. Have the client produce “Long E” as in #1 above with no voice (turn his voice off). Continue to exaggerate the oral position, and make sure he keeps his tongue firmly in position for “E”. This will result in a voiceless or whispered “E”.
  3. Now have him round his lips as he produces the whispered “E.” It should sound like “Sh” or something very close to it.
  4. If it does not sound quite like “Sh”, adjust the client’s jaw position upward a tiny bit. This will make it sound more like “Sh”.
  5. Use auditory discrimination activities to fine-tune the sound so that it sounds perfect.
  6. Continue the program on to syllables, words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and conversation.

7 thoughts on “The Lateral “Sh””

  1. I have tried the ee to get sides of tongue on top teeth and whispering ee and then rounding lips for sh sound. My student has difficulty rounding his lips to do this. I have tried going from s to sh, because he does not have a lateral lisp on s. He is able to keep sides of tongue on teeth for sh and it looks like his tongue is in the correct position but it is still lateral. Please help.

    1. I think you are just moving too fast. If He can make an E, and can pant through it, but then cannot round his lips for the next step, just stay there for a while. Don’t assume that each of these steps unfolds 1-2-3-4-5 in quick succession. Some kids can only do one thing at a time, and they need time for it to stick. He has to “keep panting E” while he rounds the lips. If he simply can’t round the lips at all, then spend some time doing another type of lip-rounding activity– like puckering them to kiss mommy or blow through a large straw. Take your time. Use words they can understand.

  2. I’m 13 (my first language is English) and I have had this speech impediment all my life but I have only noticed it for the last two years because my friends have started mocking me because of it. So I am trying to cure it somehow. I have tried following your steps but I just can’t. Get the sh sound right. Do you have any more tips?

    1. No, although sh, ch, and J are not expected to develop until around 4:6-5:0, lateralization is not a typically developing phonological process. Definitely better to start early in this case. Although this child is 9 now so hope it worked out!

  3. Thomas Clark: If you feel your speech impediment is impacting your educational performance (socialization is included, so if you are bullied, that would count), you may qualify for free speech therapy through your public school. It is a special education program. Even if you make straight A’s, pass all state assessments, etc., if it is negatively impacting you, you may qualify. Contact your school counselor with you concerns. If you don’t get the response you need, contact the Special Education Director for assistance. Good Luck!

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