Forbrain is like a set of headphones but it doesn't go in the ear canal, the bone conductors sit right in front of the ear. There is an adjustable microphone to position near the mouth. It comes in a nice sturdy case with protective foam to keep it secure. The case has a pocket to hold the user manual, a pamphlet that gives basic usage instructions, and some extra foam covers for the microphone. It has a built in rechargeable battery and comes with a USB charging cable. We were able to charge it through the USB port on the computer as well as with a portable battery. One charge lasts for a LONG LONG time! Forbrain comes in one size and it fit everyone in our family comfortably, from the preschooler all the way up to Daddy! It fit girls wearing long hair or pony tails as well.
Our initial hope... that Forbrain would assist with speech delaysMy third child, E, has struggled with speech delays since she was a toddler. She has made amazing progress with the help of speech therapists, practice, and time. But back when she was 7, we were still trying to help her learn the /r/ sound. Most professionals feel this sound should be mastered by that age. She has a strong drive and really works hard. Last year a therapist finally helped her find the best way for her to say the sound, so it was just a matter of practice. I have continued to practice with her at home. Her other issue is that sometimes she leaves sounds off the end of words. Who doesn't really, but I noticed this makes it harder to understand her. She was as excited as I was to try out the Forbrain headset! In case you were wondering, she does not have any hearing loss. She was tested a couple of times as a preschooler and toddler and everything was okay then.
How we used Forbrain:When you put the Forbrain headset on, position the microphone, and begin speaking, you will notice it doesn't sound much different. It sounds like you are hearing yourself talk through a microphone. The bone conduction wasn't bothersome at all, it's hardly noticeable but I did feel something different if I wore it a long time. It wasn't irritating though. It is suggested that preschoolers use it for 10 minutes a day, children use it for 15 minutes a day, and adults for 20. All should use it for 6-10 weeks, have a rest period so the brain can progress without the device, then begin another 6-10 week session. We use it 5 days a week. The instructions with it and on the website describe guidelines for more intense use.
One thing I noticed is it was easy for the children to forget that we were using the headset for a purpose. I could tell when they were being passive about wearing it, and I would remind them to listen to themselves. The difference was noticeable, they spoke more clearly, slowly, and with more enunciation when they actively listened.
Mom - I felt like I sounded louder because using Forbrain sounds like I'm talking into a microphone. My kids asked, "Mom, why are you talking so quietly?" Exciting... THEY paid more attention to ME while I was wearing it! I wasn't so quiet they couldn't hear me, but I was quieter than normal (maybe I should work on that!). I would wear it when I was teaching everyone or when I was reading out loud to my children. I often feel like I don't pronounce words as clearly as I should, and I think Forbrain helped me speak more clearly, and focus more on what I was reading. It's easy to avoid "wandering mind" when reading with Forbrain, so I feel it helps comprehension as well.
Dad - He has a long work day and he hasn't used this as much as I had hoped. His job requires him to be on the phone helping customers for a good portion of the day. I hoped that by using Forbrain it could help him communicate better at work. He felt the same after using it a few times, so I hope he continues to practice reading out loud with it at home.
M - 7th grade - She also didn't use it as much as everyone else, but she did use the headset for spelling, reading out loud, and singing. She would love to have a better musical ear. I feel like Forbrain helps her hit the correct notes more when singing! My 3 oldest children have also been using the headset to practice public speaking. They will present reports to a group soon and practicing with the headset has helped them speak slowly and clearly.
J - 5th grade - He wore this as much as he could (remember the suggested time limits?) while doing spelling, math, or reading to his younger sister. He is a very verbal person and learner, yet his attention span is short. He likes to work math problems out loud, and the headset helped him stay focused. I LOVE that he reads to his sister more because he gets to use the headset. He recently got his braces off and now wears an upper retainer, so he's been adjusting to speaking clearly with it.
I felt like he paid more attention to instructions, or to what he was reading or solving while wearing the headset. I noticed that he would slow down and speak clearly when wearing Forbrain while reading out loud. I think the sensory integration extended his attention span.
He says it helps him talk better, and he also feels he could pay more attention to his work or what he was reading. He is the only one who experienced problems, he says if he doesn't use it every day then he gets a headache when he uses it again. Adjusting the volume helped with this (it's only advised to change the volume when the user is hypersensitive or hearing is poor).
E - 2nd grade - She is the child I described above. She's been using the headset for reading, spelling, speech practice pages, and sometimes just talking with me. The very first time she put the headset on she was practicing spelling. She read the word little, paused, then said it again and pronounced the /t/ more clearly before spelling it. My two older children and I held our breath and looked at each other as our eyes popped out of our heads, as though we wanted to say "Did you just hear that too?!" Progress... from the very first time using Forbrain! See the spelling list in the picture? She speaks much more clearly with the headset!
I have also noticed progress with her /r/ sound. She is getting the correct pronunciation of words more frequently than before, and initial and middle /r/ is getting easier for her. If she struggles to pronounce /r/, we go over the steps of where to place her tongue, then I lean in close and say the sound and a couple of words so she can hear ME in the headset. That helps her compare her sound and correct it. We are both very pleased with her progress! Forbrain is such a blessing for her, and I'm so proud of her hard work and dedication.
I asked her opinion and she said, "If I am doing spelling it makes me hear myself better and it makes me concentrate better. I can hear myself better when I'm reading, I hear what I'm saying and if I'm saying the correct sounds."
N - Preschool - She recently started learning to read! I have her wear the headset when she practices with me. I noticed the same things she did, here's what she said.
"It is easier to do reading with Forbrain on because I can hear the sounds better. It helps me talk louder." (I think that talk louder part means she can hear herself better.)
I also notice that when she reads sentences she doesn't forget what she just read. She sounds out the words and reads a phrase, then reads another phrase, then puts them all together as a full sentence (see picture below). With Forbrain she doesn't have to sound out the words again, by the time she reads the full sentence she is more likely to remember each word. Using the headset is helping her progress faster than I expected! I did not anticipate Forbrain helping my beginning reader so much.
I love the confidence that my children have gained while using Forbrain, something I expected to happen with E, but this was a pleasant surprise for everyone else. I am so thankful we were chosen to review this headset. We will continue to use it because of the many benefits we've seen with it!
I did notice a caution in the FAQ on the website, people with 80% hearing loss in both ears, or those with a cochlear implant should not use Forbrain. There are a few more instances when it should not be used, but overall it looks like it can help with speech in so many instances! Forbrain even has a 30 day return policy, if you don't like it they will refund you within that time period. I hope that Forbrain - Sound For Life Ltd can find a way to bring the price down so these are affordable to everyone!