Monday, November 13

Forbrain for Speech Therapy - Homeschool Review Crew

Our son struggles with the basic skills of speech, memory, and concentration.  We’ve been through all kinds of therapy, with minimal improvement, but the struggles stubbornly remain.  Forbrain (Sound for Life, LTD) developed the bone conduction headset to help with speech and language difficulties, brain stimulation, auditory processing disorder, reading issues, add, and ADHD.  Given the opportunity to try it out, we lunged!

About the Headset
The headset consists of a microphone, two bone conduction transducers (the part that goes next to the ear) and the dynamic filter.  (The dynamic filter is the box that has the on/off button, volume control, and a light.)  It also comes with a quick-start guide, which is handy.  It’s very easy to charge up – we plugged in the USB cable to the computer and let it sit for a few hours.  There’s a red ‘charging’ light that turns off once it’s fully charged ; that light becomes blue when the device is in use.  One of my favorite parts about the kit, however, is the hard-shelled, zippered carrying case that makes it easy for us to take it with us everywhere (all of the pieces and the guide fit into it). 

The headset can be used for exercises such as:
  • Reading aloud
  • Dictation
  • Narration
  • Recitation (especially fun reciting poems)
  • Memorization
  • Singing
  • Dialog (role playing with toys, mine did this with their dragons and legos)
  • Story telling

What is Bone Conduction?

Bone conduction is the conveyance of sound though bones in the skull to the inner ear.  When you speak while wearing the device, you are hearing yourself loudly in your head.  It gives excellent auditory feedback to the user, and is particularly useful for those with speech issues who may struggle to hear how they sound.

One thing I liked about the headset was that, while he was getting a boosted auditory signal of his own voice, it wasn’t blocking out or muffling the sounds of those around him.  He was still able to carry on a conversation with others.

Forbrain is recommended for use as a daily tool for reading, speaking, attending in class or for general use for six to ten weeks.
  • 10 minutes a day for little ones
  • 15 minutes a day for ages 5-15
  • 20 minutes a day for teens and adults
  • 30 minutes a day for seniors

Our Use & Thoughts
He used it for the recommended amount – a mere fifteen minutes a day!  I know, you’re thinking that this isn’t enough time and it should be worn for longer, but in this case, more isn’t better.  Wearing it too long can lead to headaches and fatigue.  Results really do appear with just a few short minutes each day – consistency is really the key.

He has struggled with speech issues since he began to talk at age three….yes, age three…a bit late to the game.  We’ve seen several different speech therapists, and each has worked hard to help improve his speech, but his issues are not your ‘classic’ ones.  He has apraxia of speech, and really struggles with certain sounds…such as the short /A/ in his name…which makes it very difficult for others to have a conversation with him.  We have tried all sorts of techniques, but he doesn’t seem to be able to hear how he is pronouncing that sound.  This device really opened his eyes to how he is saying that /A/, and while it did not “cure” the issue during the review period, he did make great strides just by the fact that he is now recognizing how his version of that sound differs.  I consider that progress.

Additional Points
  • The headset retails for $299.  That’s a steep price, but if you’re paying out of pocket for speech therapy (like we were before it became too expensive), and you see results from it, then that’s really not much.  Auditory processing issues are difficult to tackle, and this looks like it will get us over a crucial ‘hump’ so that we can progress with his therapy.
  • Some sort of pre / post-test from the company would be a nice addition.  To be honest, I’m not sure how they’d do that from afar, but it’d be nice to have some concrete results that your money had been well-spent.
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Tuesday, November 7

Innovators Tribe {Review}

Thinking Like an Engineer

As our out-of-the-box son matures into his teen years, we’re trying new approaches to schoolwork…one of which is the self-directed, hands-off approach.  When we were offered the chance to try out Thinking Like an Engineer, from Innovator’s Tribe, I knew that this would be right up his alley…and it is!

Innovator’s Tribe actually offers three courses, currently, including Thinking Like an Architect, Thinking Likean Engineer, and Thinking Like a Carpenter.  Each comes with a “mini-course,” Thinking Like an Innovator, which is designed to inspire and encourage students to learn how to thinking creatively and become problem-solvers.  This mini-course primes students for the coursework that is to come, and includes its own set of challenges and projects.

Following the completion of the mini-course, he dove right into Thinking Like an Engineer!  The course is divided into four main sections : What’s an Engineer, Intro to 3D Design, Rollercoasters, and Bridges.  In the first section, students are introduced to real-world engineering challenges and encouraged to become problem-solvers around the house.

The lessons in this course are given in a powerpoint-type format, and include videos for students to watch that introduce and reinforce concepts.  Each lesson is about ten minutes long, with additional videos ranging anywhere from five minutes to forty-five minutes.  The course moves quickly enough to keep the attention of teenagers, but not so fast as for them to get lost.

One of the activities from the first section is a challenge to build a structure that will support a stack of books – but you can only use one sheet of paper and two feet of masking tape!  I have to admit that I was a bit dubious as to how on earth this would work, but he surprised me by building a structure held TWENTY-SIX books!  This momma was blown away!  (And, based on photos from the lesson, other students had built much stronger structures.)

In the second section, students download the software and learn the basics of computer-aided design.  Then, they use that knowledge in the third and fourth sections.  While we’ve just begun the section on roller coasters, my son is rapidly progressing with his computer designs and is excited about creating structures of his own design.  My husband works in a field that requires him to use CAD on a regular basis, so he was happy to have a little father-son time working with the program.

One of the things that I like about these videos is that they introduce science concepts (like potential and kinetic energy) as well as the corresponding math concepts.  Your student does NOT need to be able to do the engineering math.  The lessons simply introduce the concepts and formulas and show real-world applications for them.

In the final section of the course, students learn about the history of bridge building, including some disasters.  Again, they learn some science and math concepts to go along with bridge engineering, and they are taught in an applied sense.  Students are then challenged to build their own suspense bridge using only cardboard, string, tape, and craft sticks.  Being as our son is a craft scavenger…always repurposing trash…he is greatly anticipating this project!


This is an online, self-paced course (not live) that teaches about engineering and its applications.  The lessons are completely taught online, and are interactive, so that you (the parent / teacher) can have a break to work with other kids.  There are several hands-on activities with each lesson, including design challenges, building challenges, and an exercise journal.  There is also a free download of the design software, which is yours to keep even after the 18-month course period has expired.


  • Introduction to Engineering 
  • Introduction to 3D Design (tools of modern design) 
  • Engineering Rollercoasters! 
  • Engineering Bridges 
  • Nano Engineering (Discovery of a New World) 
  • Thinking Like an Engineer - Course Conclusion


  • You only need to purchase the course once, and it can be used by all of the children in the household during the 18-month access period.
  • Each course (Architect, Engineer, and Carpenter) comes with a mini-course, titled Thinking Like an Innovator.
  • Courses are designed for grade 6-12.
  • There are no grades; however, there is a course journal for accountability.
  • Course software runs on both Mac and Windows.
  • Customer service responds within 24 hours, and even faster during business hours.
  • Courses are priced at $149 and offer 35 hours (or ¼ credit) of instruction.

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