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.


Jasper Roberts Consulting - Widget