I’m so incredibly excited to hear from six amazing SLPs volunteered to share their experience when overcoming a challenge. These posts are filled with practical tips and tricks.

Next up is…Hilary! She’s sharing how she figured out how to help a student with a lateral lisp.

Tell us a little about you! Where are you from?

I am from Southern California, about 30 minutes from Disneyland. I have lived in California all of my life, mostly Southern California.

Tell us about your experience as an SLP! Where did you go to school? How long have you been an SLP? What settings have you worked in? Where do you currently work (e.g., setting, quick overview of caseload)?

I am currently in my sixth year as a school-based speech therapist. During the summers and holiday breaks, I have done some per diem work at a local clinic, as well. I attended the University of the Pacific for undergrad and the University of Redlands for graduate school. My current caseload consists of elementary and high school students; however, during my time as a speech therapist, I have worked with ages two through high school with a variety of different levels and abilities.

Describe the problem you faced. Tell us a little about the situation and how you felt tackling the problem.

Last year at the beginning of the year, while reading over my student goals, I noticed that one of my kindergarteners had a goal for /t/, /d/, and /n/. Upon reading the report and meeting the student, I learned that this student presented with a lateral lisp. I remember learning that lateral lisps were never developmental, but besides that I had never learned how to treat a lateral lisp. I quickly learned that not only were the /s/ and /z/ sounds affected, but the /sh/ and /ch/ sounds were, too.

Which resources did you use when solving the problem?

I consulted my supervisor, who told me about a trick using a straw and a cotton ball to teach proper airflow. I don’t know if it wasn’t that I wasn’t clear on this technique, but I couldn’t figure out what to do. I searched online on speech therapist blogs and on Teachers Pay Teachers for articles and resources for treating a lateral lisp and read many articles that described different techniques and suggestions. I found a video by Pedi Speechie that I watched and had some great ideas that seemed simple to implement.

What did you try that worked really well?

The technique that worked well for me was practicing a short “t” and then making a long “t” and using the term “long t” instead of “s” when teaching the sound. Initially, I was just creating my own activities using short t, long t, and final ts. I found and created word lists focusing on final ts and used these words in therapy. I found a resource on Teachers Pay Teachers by Pedi Speechie that had handouts and activities to go along with the technique I was using.

What did you try that didn’t work?

It didn’t work to try to teach forward airflow using a straw.

What did you do when things didn’t go as planned?

When things didn’t go as planned, I continued to do research and ask colleagues and other speech therapists for suggestions as to what may work.

What was the end result? Was it what you expected?

Unfortunately, I was just starting to work on this technique in phrases when it was the end of the school year, and I did not return to the school site in the fall. It was very frustrating that after all of my hard work, I wasn’t able to continue with working with this student.

What did you learn?

I was so proud of myself that I conquered this, and my confidence as a speech therapist increased. I am now more comfortable to work with other students with a lateral lisp and excited to assist other therapists in this area, as I have found a technique that worked for me. I learned that there may be many ways to teach a skill and that resources are there to help. I was reminded to ask others for their insight and ideas as to what has worked for them.


Hi there! I'm Marisha. I am a school-based SLP who is all about working smarter, not harder. I created the SLP Now Membership and love sharing tips and tricks to help you save time so you can focus on what matters most--your students AND yourself.

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