The experience of stigma in adults who lisp

A thematic analysis


  • Sarah Lockenvitz Missouri State University
  • Judith Oxley University of Louisiana
  • John Tetnowski Oklahoma State University



Lisp, Stigma, Minor Bodily Stigma, Disability, Qualitative Analysis


Objective: This study investigates and describes the experience of stigma in adults who self-identify as having a lisp. It aims to shed light on and legitimize adults who self-identify as having a lisp through what emerges from their described lived experiences and in terms of minor bodily stigma and models of disability.

Method: Data were gathered through qualitative semi-structured interviews with seven self-identified adults who lisp. These interviews were conducted and audio-recorded in person, via Skype, and via a conference call setup, depending on the level of convenience and the preferences of the participants. Interviews were transcribed. Transcript data underwent systematic thematic analysis rooted in qualitative research theory.

Results: One overriding theme, three underlying themes, and eight subordinate thematic categories were yielded from the described lived experiences of the participants.

Discussion: Results are examined in light of previous stigma literature establishing lisping as a minor bodily stigma, as well as models of disability. The experiences of stigma in adults who self-identify as having a lisp are varied and reflect internalized as well as public stigma.

Conclusions: The thorough exploration of emergent themes, requiring layers of repeated analysis and consideration, allows for the investigation, acknowledgement, illumination, and legitimization of the experience of stigma in adults who self-identify as having a lisp.

Author Biographies

Sarah Lockenvitz, Missouri State University

Sarah Lockenvitz, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and associate professor at Missouri State University. Her current clinical and research interests include the experience of stigma in individuals with speech sound disorders, factors contributing to effective phonetic transcription instruction, and the intersection between phonological awareness and phonetic transcription skills.

Judith Oxley, University of Louisiana

Judith Oxley, PhD CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and assistant professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Her current clinical and research interests include language and speech development in children who use augmentative and alternative communication, global perspective on augmentative and alternative communication, and the emergence of metastrategic insight into clinical practice in preprofessional speech-language pathology students.

John Tetnowski, Oklahoma State University

John Tetnowski, PhD, CCC-SLP, is the Jeanette Sias Endowed Chair in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Oklahoma State University. He has over 25 years of clinical experience and is a board-certified fluency specialist. He has published over 80 manuscripts in fluency disorders and research methods and is an ASHA Fellow. He is the current editor of Perspectives in Fluency Disorders. In the past, he has served as the co-ordinator for ASHA’s Special Interest Group in Fluency and Fluency Disorders, and has served on the board of directors for the National Stuttering Association. He has provided workshops on stuttering in five continents, presented over 300 workshops at state, national, and international conferences, and has run semi-intensive fluency camps for children who stutter and their parents in two states over the past six years. Currently, he serves as co-ordinator of the Oklahoma State chapter of the National Stuttering Association and is co-founder of the Oklahoma Affiliates for the Knowledge of Stuttering, a state special interest group for stuttering. He has served as the primary mentor for 16 PhD students.


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How to Cite

Lockenvitz, S., Oxley, J., & Tetnowski, J. (2022). The experience of stigma in adults who lisp: A thematic analysis. Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders, 13(2), 196–211.