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Speech Impairment in Adults

Speech Impairment in Adults

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

While we typically think of speech impairment as something that primarily affects children, it can certainly be an issue that impacts adults as well. 

We want people to listen when we talk. Unfortunately, you could limit how often you choose to talk if you have speech impairment challenges like a lisp. Having a lisp might be something you wish to get fixed, but you may have given up hope of it ever changing as you’ve gotten older. 

There may be a solution to your speech issues as an adult. It could involve where your tongue is placed in your mouth. 


What Is a Lisp?

We have defined lisp in detail in a previous article:

“When a person’s tongue touches the back of their teeth or protrudes between their teeth to form the “s” or “z” sound, it is indicative that they have a lisp. As a result, the sounds are pronounced as “thun” for “sun.” Since you have to stick your tongue out to make the “th” sound, it can be difficult for others to determine what you are saying when you speak.”

Both kids and adults that have a lisp are frequently ridiculed or teased by their peers. Many young people don't know that they lisp, so if a classmate teases them, they might not know the real issue or how to intervene. 

For adults, it's a little different. You know how and why you're being teased. 

Other Adult Speech Impairments


This is the inability to comprehend or express oneself in verbal or written language. It frequently happens following strokes or severe head traumas. 

Additionally, it can happen in patients who have language-related brain degenerative disorders or brain tumors. Children who have never learned to communicate are not considered to fall under this category. Aphasia comes in a variety of forms.

The issue with aphasia may gradually resolve itself in some situations, but not in others.


The individual with dysarthria struggles to convey particular sounds or phrases. The rhythm or tempo of their speech is altered, and they speak inaudibly (for example, by slurring). The tongue, lips, larynx, or vocal cords—which are responsible for producing speech—are typically difficult to control due to a neurological or brain issue. 

Aphasia, which is the inability to produce language, and dysarthria, which is trouble pronouncing words, are occasionally confused. Dysarthria patients may experience swallowing issues as well.

Voice Disturbances

A voice disturbance is brought on by anything that alters the vocal cords' structure or function. Nodules, polyps, cysts, papillomas, granulomas, and malignancies are examples of lump-like growths that may be to blame. The voice now sounds different from how it usually does as a result of these modifications.

By now, you’ve probably learned to roll with it, and you might even choose to be self-deprecating about it. While your attitude is probably admirable, it would be good to learn why you have a lisp and how to possibly correct it. There is a good chance your speech impairment is connected to tongue thrust. 

What Is Tongue Thrust?

In a previous article, we defined tongue thrust as:

“The term tongue thrust describes a condition wherein a person’s tongue sits improperly in the mouth when you’re swallowing or at rest. You swallow over 2,000 times each day, exerting upwards of six pounds of pressure with your tongue each time. Your tongue should be pushing on the roof of your mouth. If it is instead pushing on your teeth, you have a tongue thrust.”

If you have a lisp, you may also have tongue thrust. Although you may not be aware of what is happening or how much it is influencing your everyday life, it will have an impact on more than simply speaking. 

Other signs of tongue thrust include:

  • Dental Problems: Dental issues, such as an overbite or overjet, can result from the tongue pressing up on the teeth. In essence, the tongue causes a space between the top and bottom teeth or pulls the teeth forward.
  • Teeth Grinding: When your teeth are not properly aligned, it is possible they will grind their teeth. Teeth grinding can lead to frequent headaches and other potential issues.
  • Mouth Breathing: A person with tongue thrust might mainly breathe via their mouth. Mouth breathing can disrupt sleep and result in issues as an adult. Fatigue brought on by a lack of sleep might result in the inability to pay attention at work and increased tension.
  • Snoring: If you are often sawing logs at night while you are sleeping, you may have tongue thrust that is disrupting your breathing patterns and causing you to snore. 
  • Sleep Apnea: While it’s not always the case, sleep apnea can be connected to tongue thrust. 

Can Tongue Thrust Be Corrected?

Often tongue thrust can be corrected, which can lead to the subsequent domino effect of many of its side effects going away. If you can correct your tongue thrust, you might be able to fix your lisp. 

IJustWantTo® Correct My Tongue Thrust 

The solution to your tongue thrust issues could be our program, IJustWantTo Correct My Tongue Thrust. This program is the only solution of its kind. It is a 7-week tongue exercise program that has proven results to correct a tongue thrust and fix an incorrect tongue position.

This is achieved by creating the new tongue posture as a habit and strengthening the tongue muscles with targeted workouts. When this occurs, nasal breathing should take the place of mouth breathing while you're sleeping, preventing snoring and other mouth-breathing side effects. We’ve often seen this be a major step toward correcting a lisp or other speech impairment. 

If you’re ready to correct tongue thrust and possibly retrain your tongue in such a way that you no longer have a lip, try our program today!

Janet M. Bennett

Written by:

Janet Bennett, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, is a Speech Pathologist in private practice in Asheville, NC, since 1977. She specializes in treating tongue thrust, a swallowing disorder that can result in buckteeth, an open bite, a lisp, snoring, and other problems that have not yet been made known to most people.