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Tongue Position for /s/ with Open Bite

Dee Lance, Ph.D,CCC-SLP

August 7, 2006

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Question

How do you teach proper tongue placement to a child with an anterior open bite for the /s/ sound who has a frontal lisp? Secondly, Does a tongue thrust swallow always coexist with an interdental lisp?

Answer

There are two positions we can use to produce and /s/. One is the more traditionally taught "tongue tip on the alveolar ridge." The other is with the tongue tip positioned behind the lower teeth. The latter position is the position I would try if working with a child with an open-bite. It is also the position I use when teaching /s/ to a child who is severely tongue tied. For this technique the tongue tip is behind the bottom teeth and the tongue blade makes contact with the alveolar ridge. Additionally, central airflow is fairly easy to maintain. Although it may not feel quite as natural if you are a "tongue tip on the alveolar ridge" producer of /s/, but you can achieve a quality /s/ using the lower position.

For the second question the answer is, "no." I think it is important for us to remember that speech is a secondary function of the oral mechanism. Consequently there can some degree of variability in its structure and function before it affects speech production. Although in my practice I have seen children with co-occurring frontal lisps and tongue thrusts, I have also seen both of those disorders occur independently.


Dee Lance is an Associate Professor at the University of Central Arkansas where she teaches classes in articulation development/disorders and child language disorders. She has worked as a speech-language pathologist with pre-school and school-age children for the past 18 years.


Dee Lance, Ph.D,CCC-SLP


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