All three of our boys have had minor speech impediments. I have the cutest video of me trying to help Reed practice his Rs and Ls around age two.
R: My name is Weed James Wayton.
M: My name is Rrrreeed James Lllllayton.
R: (in a "Silly Mommy" voice) You're not.
M: Can you say, "My name is Rrrreeeed James Llllayton?"
R: You're not Weed James Wayton.
But the boy worked hard and had his name back probably by age three or four. Max, too, had to work on his Ls. He's already fixed those. His last sound to fix is "th" (as in "Do you want dis one or dat one?) He can do it, and will when we remind him. It's just not a habit yet.
And then there's Calvin... His lisp combined with his difficult personality has made him our most challenging speech student. We tried video taping him. Wouldn't cooperate. We tried putting frosting, peanut butter, and honey up where his tongue was supposed to be when he makes the S sound. He'd just lick it and say, "Thuper!" We tried correcting him. He'd throw a fit or avoid s words all together. So, when he started kindergarten, I asked our speech teacher if she would please pull him. She said his sound wasn't a major concern for his age, but she could still work with him based on parent request. We'd spent the whole year before telling him that he really needed to practice or he'd have to miss out on center time to go to speech class. We never wanted him to feel bad about his speech, but we also knew his biggest impediment was his stubborn personality! Then, when it became clear that he wasn't going to have it fixed, I had to spin it around and make speech class seem cool. It was. The speech teacher reported to me that he performed his S's perfectly in her presence and loved the games she played with the kids. She had also learned, through a few rousing games of Go Fish, that he is extremely competitive. So, she challenged him to be the first student to graduate from speech, laying out a collection of stuffed animal prize options and promising ice cream at his graduation "ceremony." That struck a chord. He diligently pronounced every word correctly as he told me about the challenge that day. He had his eye on a ssssnow tiger (actually a white cat, but whatever works) and there was only one and HE was going to get it. And he did better. He would let us stop him and have him repeat words without too much fuss (thometimes). But it still wasn't a habit.
So, we upped the ante at home. We started a competition between him and Max. Every time Max said "th" instead of "d" he'd get a point. We could remind and correct him, since he's two. Every time Calvin said a good "S" he'd get a point, but if he'd say a bad one, he'd lose a point. The winner would get a treat at the end of the day. We heard a lot of, "I'm ssssuper excccited to get ssssso many pointssss thisssss day, guysssss." Then, Reed would get Max to say, "This, this, this, this, this, this." It was quite annoying. But I think it might have been the tipping point. A few weeks after we started the game, we'd pretty much forgotten to keep track. The tally charts were still out, but mainly because our house was a wreck. But I noticed just this past weekend that he was saying every S correctly - or close. And it was starting to be more effortless. He's done it all week, so I think it's gonna stick. We've bragged on our stubborn little guy and told him we'll be talking to his speech teacher when we go back. He can already taste the ice cream.
This boy! The one we had to bribe with "Starbur" to potty train and with 13 other treats to talk correctly. I wonder how much he'll cost us in sugar and petty cash by the time he graduates from high school!