Speech Sound Production

I was recently contacted by a mom who had a speech therapy question for me.  Her teenage son had a lisp and although they had tried a few different things to correct it in the past nothing seemed to work.  Her question for me was to ask if her son might be able to correct his speech or if it was too late.  While it is true that children should be able to produce all speech sounds correctly by the age of 8 years, the good news is that speech articulation can be improved at any age given that the necessary physical structures and functions are adequate.  It takes practice, motivation, and cooperation.  When you can correct speech at a young age, it is often easier because the incorrect patterns are not as established as when a child has been pronouncing sounds incorrectly for years.  An older child, teenager, or adult  has a harder habit to break in addition to learning a new way to say speech sounds.  When there are multiple sounds in error, a speech/language pathologist can help determine which errors are developmentally acceptable and which are beyond the expected age for the sound to develop.  Working on developmentally earlier sounds increases the likelihood of success and lessens frustration.  The teenager whose mom had contacted me had been asked to do a reading at a wedding and as a result was very motivated to improve his speech prior to his public speaking engagement.  This motivation, along with strong parental support, was the strongest prognostic factor for improved speech sound production for this young man.  Although he could have corrected his speech earlier, without the motivation to work on it and practice he didn’t experience much change in his speech and it didn’t bother him since his speech was understandable despite the lisp.  But now he had a goal and was motivated to make the necessary changes to bring his speech up to par.  It just so happened that this family lived only a few miles from me, so I agreed to work with them for a few weeks to see if I could help the boy meet his goal of speaking clearly.  Being a busy teenager, his time for practicing his speech had to fit in with all his other activities.  With that in mind, we discussed practicing for 5-10 minutes each day rather than an occasional longer session.  This was not only reasonable for his schedule, but the short yet frequent practice sessions helped him be more aware of his speech and generalize his new skill.  After seeing this motivated teenager for just four speech therapy sessions, he is able to speak and read aloud without lisping.  He is practicing good speech sound productions on his own and the result is carrying over into his everyday conversations now.  He is ready to do his public reading and is a good example of what motivation and practice can accomplish.  His speech articulation will never hold him back now that he knows what to do and is willing to work to make it happen.  I am thrilled for him and his family and I’m very proud of what he has accomplished in a short period of time.

Social tagging: > >

Leave a Reply