Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Magic Slide- my solution for lateral /s/ and /z/

Give me an /r/ any day.  Gimme me any old artic error.

 It's only the lateral productions that make me shake in my boots! 
I'll admit it, I'm a big ole chicken when it comes to lateral distortions.  They're tough!

I've seen my share of laterals; I can't seem to escape them! 
  About 12 years ago, I had a little girl named Shelby who was one of the sweetest and smartest students I'd ever had. 
She'd been in therapy for 4 years for just about every sound error you can imagine and all that was left to polish was her /s/ and /z/.  

You guessed it- lateral distortions.  
We tried placement tricks.  
We tried blowing through straws.  
All massive fails.

It wasn't until I tried the prolonged /t/ technique that we hit the jackpot.  
(I've since learned that Carolyn Bowen calls it the Butterfly Procedure and Jane Folk talked about it in her book, Straight Speech: a lisp treatment program.)

I needed a visual to help Shelby see that she could make a /t/ sound and if she held it....
it would turn it into the perfect /s/ sound!  

I quickly sketched a playground slide on a scrap piece of paper and we started using it.  We called it "Shelby's Ladder." I called it that for years! 

Finally! The sweet sound of success!

It was like magic!  

The perfect /s/! 

The /t/ facilitated the correct placement and prolonging it created the stridency needed to turn it into an /s/.  

Since then I've used it with countless kids.  It doesn't work every time but I'd say it does the trick for every 9 out of 10 kids.  

Shelby is long gone- she's in college now.  After she mastered the art of the /s/ she was dismissed but I'll never forget her.  

Now my kids and I call it THE MAGIC SLIDE.  It magically turns your /t/ into an /s/!    
{DITTO for /d/ and /z/}

To use it, tell your students that you NO longer want them to say "s" sounds -instead,  you want them to say "t" and "long t" sounds because those will sound like /s/.   

{The minute you ask them just to say /s/ they will revert back to their sloppy lateral habits! Don't do it!}

You should explain to your students that they will say /t/ each time you point to a "t" and then the "t" at the top of the slide will SSSSSlllliiiiiidddddde down and magically turn into an /s/ sound.  
They should NOT try to say /s/ - only "t" and a "long t" when it slides down the slide. 

Got it?  

Have the student say /t/ each time you point to a letter "t"- making your finger "climb" the rungs of the ladder.  

Once you get to the top, your finger will "slide" down the slide and the /t/ will magically turn into an /s/.  

"t"    "t"    "t"   "t"   "t"  "tssssssssss"


The same will work for /d/ and /z/ although the voicing 
makes it harder to prolong the /d/.  

You will have to slowly FADE the /t/ to master /s/ in isolation.  
Anytime they revert back to a lateral /s/ remind them to say a "long t" instead of an /s/
{it's the same sound but they seem to associate the 2 terms with 2 different placements.  Make sense?}

As you practice, encourage the prolongation of /t/ to get shorter and shorter until it no longer exists. 
Your student will have to "memorize" the placement for a proper /s/ and forget about the old lateral placement (easier said than done I know!)
Just keep using The Magic Slide for practice.  

Once you move to words, you will probably have to bring back the handy dandy /t/ and then fade it again.  It's a tedious process but it works.  Keep the faith!  

If you want to try to bring a little magic to your speech room,  you can download THE MAGIC SLIDE at my TPT store.  It's a FREEBIE from me to you!  While you're there, please follow me on TPT so you can be alerted when I post new products.

If you try it and it works for you (or even if if bombs), 
I'd really love to hear what happened!
Please leave me a comment either way :) 

Good luck and happy therapizing! 


  1. Great post!! I love technique tips like these. We can all learn so much from each other!

  2. Love this! It's been years since I have had a lateral lisp, and it was quite a struggle. I remember using the butterfly technique and it working, can't wait to download th efreebie, thanks! I would love to see more ideas like these.

  3. I need more oral motor activities. I've used the /t/ trick for years and actually thought I'd discovered it!! Lol

  4. Thanks for the visual! I've used this technique myself, but I love the idea of the slide to help the child visualize making a long /t/. Thanks!


  5. Wonderful visual!! Thanks so much - I've been pulling my hair out over a lateralizing kiddo...and I agree with you completely - as annoying as /r/ is, it's so much more straight forward! :)

  6. I have been using this technique for several years, where I first learned of it in The Entire World of S and Z. I haven't seen this visual though -- thanks!! KatieSLP

  7. I love all of your posts and materials especially magic slide visual and quick Artic drills.

  8. Thanks for sharing your story. We all have wonderful memories of certain students from years ago. Happy teaching!

  9. Thanks for the visual! Love the /t/ technique. Its' working with a kiddo I have right now!

  10. Is there anything like this for lateral 'ch' and 'j'


Jasper Roberts Consulting - Widget