MSU speech pathology program helps clients communicate clearly

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A lisp is a common speech variation that impacts how one pronounces “S” and “Z” sounds, and typically develops at a young age. Speech therapy available at Missouri State University can be used to treat clients who choose to do so.

“We do call it ‘treatment’, but it’s a new way of producing sounds,” explained Dr. Alana Mantie-Kozlowski. “Nobody cares that they can say an ‘S’ well here in the clinic, it is more important that you can say an ‘S’ well when you leave.”

Dr. Alana Mantie-Kozlowski and Dr. Sarah Lockenvitz of the speech-language pathology program at MSU have partnered to study the effects of tried and true technology in a new way.
Graduate students create molds of participants that speak with a lisp, then make palates that connect to software showing contact points of the tongue.
Clients are also given clinician feedback on how to better shape their mouths to achieve the sound they want. The technology is then removed as quickly as possible to help achieve independence.

Research found that a number of participants were confident in their speech despite having a lisp, but almost all of the clients referred to the severity of the impediment negatively.

“We’ve got this huge range of experiences, and this huge range of how people feel about themselves with these speech variations,” said Dr. Sarah Lockenvitz. “But across the range, all of these people talk about their lisps in terms of language that frames it up negatively.”

One takeaway from the program is that speech is personal, and whether or not those speaking with a variation seek treatment– speech pathologists hope to help people communicate messages clearly.

Learn more about the MSU Speech, Language and Hearing clinic here.

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