This advice-column-style blog for SLPs was authored by Pam Marshalla from 2006 to 2015, the archives of which can be explored here. Use the extensive keywords list found in the right-hand column (on mobile: at the bottom of the page) to browse specific topics, or use the search feature to locate specific words or phrases throughout the entire blog.
Q: I am an SLP with a two-year-old son who has developed a lateral lisp on Sh and Ch. I really don’t want these lateral sounds to get worse and I am tired of hearing that I am over-reacting. Help!
Oh you poor thing! Being an SLP and having a child of your own with an artic problem is one of the worst situations to be in! You are NOT over-reacting because you know that some of these so-called minor errors can be very hard to fix. One of my own daughters had a distorted R at 2 years of age and I was FREAKING OUT! I thought, how can I show my face if I cannot fix this! Ahhhhhhhh!
If the palatal sibilants truly are the only errors he has on the sibilants then I would do this––
The tongue position for Sh is exactly the same as the tongue position for Long E, so I would begin with Long E (as in “beet”).
- Have him practice Long E for about a week. Make it no big deal, just emphasize E for a while. When the time is right, practice, “Eeeee! There’s a spider!” and “Weeee! We’re on the swing!”
- If he can make a correct E, then he can whisper an E. So then spend a week whispering E. Practice saying, “Eeeee (whispered)! Don’t wake the spider up!” and “Weeeeee! (whispered)! We have to be very quiet on the swing today.”
- Now, if he can whisper E, then he can round his lips while he whispers E to say “Sh”. Think of Sh as a voiceless E with lip rounding. I would have him whisper his E and then “Kiss mommy” or “Kiss the bear” to get his lips rounded.
I would take 3-4 months and just practice E and Sh this way and see how he does. Don’t try to “Fix Sh”. Just play with these sounds.
Let me know how it’s going after a while and I can guide you more.