My Almost-4-year-old Son's "Lisp"

Updated on September 24, 2010
E.M. asks from Carrollton, TX
15 answers

Hi moms! I've had contradicting advice from members of my family, so once again I ask for the expertise of you lovely mothers!


My son, who has spoken from an early age, has always had a lisp: he says "th" instead of "s." Most people tell me this will eventually fade, and not to worry about it until he's school-aged. However, it seems to have gotten worse. In fact, some people (even friends and family!) are starting to tease about this. They certainly don't mean to hurt my feelings (they've never said anything in front of him), and I am immediately defensive when it ever comes up.

Is this something I should be worried about now? If so, what should I do? Thanks ladies!!!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Dallas on

My youngest daughter had/has a slight lisp... I always thought it was the cutest thing ever! To me, it made her special and unique. My husband mentioned getting her speech therapy, and I refused. I feel we should teach kids to accept their differences and take pride in their uniqueness... that being said, if it were an extremely pronounced lisp, then I likely would have sought some therapy to lessen it. Her lisp had faded (she is 8 now), but now that her teeth are a mess (falling out, loose, etc.), it is reappearing. I have no worries... she'll be whomever she is supposed to be. I know that lisps (unless they are extreme) tend to fade as the child grows. I hope this helps.

More Answers



answers from Columbus on

This is a tricky question. If you think that it is severe, and you feel like his self esteem is in jepordy then get an evaluation privately and pay for therapy. The earlier you do it, the more effective this is. Unless the lisp prevents your son from being functional in the classroom or truly makes him uninteligible, then it is unlikely that he will quailify or even be evaluated by his school district once he starts school.

It may cost you a little, but if you help him in the long run, it may be worth it, especially if he is one of those kids for whom this does not fade.

Good luck,

Edit! To qualify for this service the lisp would have to adversely affect his education, and this would not. He won't qualify.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I actually just had my 4.5 year old evaluated for this same lisp in the last few months. She was evaluated by the Easter Seals program through her preschool and also through our local intermediate unit. Both evaluations showed that she isn't expected to master the "s'" sound until at least age 6. She scored well in all other areas so was not considered to have any language deficiencies and therefore wasn't eligible for corrective measures.

The IU evaluator indicated that since she is capable of placing her teeth together and can make the "s" sound if she really concentrates (she played games to get my daughter to do this) and since she makes the "j" sound appropriately that she will likely outgrow this lisp. She suggested playing games with my duaghter like having her put her front teeth together and "hiding" her tongue while working on the "s" sound.

In discussing the issue with her preschool teacher she told me that her son had the same lisp and she was told that once he gets his adult teeth the lisp may resolve itself. It did.

I exchanged emails with the speech teacher at the elementary school my daughter will attend. She said she goes into the K classes once a week to work on language skills and if the lisp isn't corrected by age 6 or 6 1/2 then she would be eligible for an more thorough evaluation through them.

So my plan is to see what kind of progress I can make with her and take advantage of the Easter Seals evaluation again when she it comes to her PreK class next year.

I know it is frustrating. My advice would be to go for an early intervention evaluation to see if he qualifies for any services and to get some tips from them on how to work with him. If it still really bothersome you can always seek out speech therapy services that you pay for. One other piece of advice I was given was not to make it seem like a big deal to my daughter to not put stress on her or make her feel inadequate. Best wishes to you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Go to your city's/district Early Childhood center and have him checked.

I will tell you that my 4.5 year old has a lingering lisp. He was an early talker too. He was just in for his pre-K readiness assessment and the specialist said there are a handful of sounds that many children don't perfect until 7 yrs ("s" is one of them). And so she did not recommend speech therapy services.

I myself think the "s" is troublesome for mine because he also has a bit of an overbite...And so his tongue "slips out" from behind his teeth too easily when he uses "s".

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I am a speech therapist in schools and I would suggest having an evaluation. Or atleast talk to a professional for suggestions on how you can help him at home right now. He will not qualify in school system (kindergarten) unless it severely impacts his speech and intelligibility. Schools are very strigent on these matters. It will most likely not self-correct and therapy would help at age 5-6, when you can start teaching correct placement for /s/ /z/ /th/ and other sounds affected by the lisp.



answers from Dallas on

How far away is he from 4? My son had a lisp at that age. I think it developed because he had a beloved teacher with a lisp. He also had a stuttering problem. Overnight it seems, both disappeared. It seems this happened when he turned four. I would wait just a while longer (4 1/2) if it was me, but I totally understand your concern and want to check it out sooner if that's what you want.



answers from Cleveland on

Call your school district to see if there is anything available for pre-schoolers. Martha (previous poster) is right in that they may or may not do anything unless it is really severe, but it won't hurt to call. Maybe a Head Start program or something like that exists that he might qualify for. Just a thought. good luck!

K. z.



answers from Dallas on

My son had the same lisp at that age. I asked the school speech therapist (they have to begin servicing kiddos with speech issues by the age of 3) and she said not to worry.
Not long after, it did begin to go away on its own but not completely. I think when he was five, we saw an orthodontist for the first time, and his front teeth were too far forward. He got a special little strip of poky things attached to the back of his teeth which prevented the tongue thrust and the lisp, plus helped him move his teeth back to the correct position. Problem was then completely solved.



answers from Dallas on

I am glad that you are a concerned Mom. If it were me I would have him stick out his tounge if it has a crease in the middle he's probably tounge tied. I that is the case a dentist will be the place to take him. The will recomend a pediodontist & they can clip under the tounge. It's a simple proceedure & shouldn't cause a lot of problems but will fix his lisp.
Hope that's not the case but it is something you can check yourself.
God bless you & I pray you find an answer soon.


answers from Norfolk on

A book of tongue twisters to read through and have fun with might help.
Play around with words and pronunciation.
Enjoy reading 'Fox in Socks' together.
Seven silver swans swam silently seaward.
She sells sea shells by the sea shore
Should Sheila sell sea shells or should she sell shoes?
Six thick thistle sticks.
He probably hasn't lost any baby teeth yet, but when they start, this can also have an effect on pronunciation.



answers from Dallas on

Whether he is in school or not, you can have him evaluated by a speech teacher at your local elementary school. Call the school, get the teacher's name and number, call her and set up an appointment. Since he is four, they will evaluate him. I did this with my son. It is free and the evaluator should give you tips and information to what to look out for if they don't think he needs speech right now.




answers from Portland on

My grandson is in a special education program with speech therapy because he has difficulty talking. I have learned that there are several sound combinations that are more difficult to learn and therefore not considered a problem until the child is older.

At the same time, I'm aware that the school district's Intermediate Education department (also called Early Childhood Intervention) WILL evaluate. How else would they know if he needed intervention? If he doesn't need help so that he can succeed in school then they won't provide services but they may give you suggestions on how to help him. Keep in mind that social readiness is a part of being able to succeed in school.

The evaluation is required by Federal Law (no child left behind) and is provided free of charge as is the therapy if it's found to be necessary.

So, call the school district and get an evaluation. Find out now so that you can either relax about it or get him the help he needs.



answers from Wichita Falls on

I would advise you to contact the elementary school in your area and have him evaluated for speech services. Even if you don't want to send him to school 1/2 a day, you could still take him 2-3 times a week for 30 min to 1 hour for speech therapy. Kids are mean and he will be starting kindergarten soon. I would suggest that you do anything you can to help him. A speech therapist can give you effective ways to help your son change his speech. My son was in speech from the age of 2 and I can testify that speech therapy along with hard work on your son's part works.



answers from Kansas City on

Both my brother and I talked this way and we had to go to speech classes at school. The speech tharapist made us put our tongues on the roof of our mouth and then say our s's. It came out sounding almost like "sh", and she would clap and say, "yeah, that's right, you got it!". We would look at each other and knew she was full of it. I knew we would eventually grow out of it, and going to speech everyday was so embarrassing! I honestly don't remember any kids making fun of my lisp, but they did make fun of us going to speach class.
Kids grow out their lisps, and at 4 years, I believe is waay too young to be concerened about a lisp. I don't know one kid who started out talking, and saying every sound perfectly. Relax, and remember that you are the mom, so, why don't you try teaching him the right way to say his s's, instead a speach therapist? Besides, I think kids w/ lisps, are extra cute! :) I also thinks lisps are pretty common. Also, don't be too concerned, I have only known one adult who still talked w/ a lisp.



answers from Redding on

My son also began speaking early and he had a funny way of saying things.
He would say Tit-ty instead of Sissy. He would say thumb instead of some.
He was deathly afraid of spiders and when he said, SPIDER! it came out clear as a bell so I didn't worry too much about it.
Just try to get your son to say silly things like sneaky snake or soft slippers. Teach him how to hisssss like a snake or a dinosaur.
My son never needed any special classes and has absolute perfect speach, but if working with your child at home doesn't produce any results, you can look into a speach therapist.
My son is 14 and every now and then he'll say, "I love you Tit-ty" to his adult sister.
It melts her.
It may be habit more than anything at this point and you can just try working with him on it.

Anyway, I wish you the best.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions