My experience of the Forbrain headset

by Dawn Villarreal
(Naperville, IL, USA)

My Son using Forbrain with her SLP

My Son using Forbrain with her SLP

I recall the days when my son received early intervention services at our area pediatric therapy center. One evening a week, while I waited for my son, a teenage boy (practically a man) would come in to receive speech services.

My God, I thought. I’m so glad I’m on top of the communication issue so early. With some luck and hard work, my son should be done with speech by third grade.

My son is 16 years old. He is still receiving speech services.

Having a son on the autism spectrum, I never thought the most daunting issue to tackle would be his speech. He blazes through conversation at 80 miles per hour, each word blurring into the other. When he is excited I only understand half of what he is saying. And I have the advantage of understanding the context of his various interests and stories. That’s not the case for his relatives, teachers and friends.

The other issue is volume control. He is loud. He does not recognize that he’s loud.

We have been through more speech-language pathologists (SLP) than I can remember. We’ve tried any number of visual cues to help him remember to slow things down. While progress has been made and mastered on R sounds, pronoun reversal and any number of communication deficits; rate of speech and volume stubbornly remain.

Several months ago, while searching for speech resources, I came across Forbrain, The device looks like a phone headset that you would wear for a customer service job.

Here is the website

At it’s most basic, it’s like those PVC “phones” that SLPs use to help a child hear their voice. But to say that’s all it is would be a disservice. Forbrain is a bone conduction headset. 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.

My son has been using Forbrain for the past three months, 20 minutes a day. He also wears it while he is working with his speech therapist. A benefit of this bone conduction headset is that it does not diminish his ability to hear his surroundings. He is able to get

auditory feedback of his own voice while still being able to hear and respond to his speech therapist.

When my son wears Forbrain and reads, both his rate of speech and volume decrease. Impressively so. He sounds great.

Since using them, he does a better job at speaking at a normal rate. His volume control is good after he takes off his Forbrain headset, but tends to go back up a few hours later. If he gets excited about what he’s talking about, he quickly falls back into his old patterns.

From nearly 15 years of my son receiving speech services, I can say that this is the most progress he’s made in this area. But it is still a struggle to have him generalize the changes in his speech pattern all day. I am hopeful, that with continued and consistent use, he will make gains in both rate of speech and volume.

The Forbrain headset has other uses. My daughter, who has auditory processing disorder, loves the Forbrain when she takes singing lessons. She has difficulty hearing her own voice competing with the music. Now she can hear her voice loud and clear with the headset.

I could see this as a good tool for practicing speeches or for auditory learners who may need to read aloud to comprehend information.

Overall, I’m pleased with the Forbrain headset and will continue to have my son use it. I only wish this device existed during my son’s early intervention days. Perhaps he would have overcome these last speech hurdles much sooner.

If you have a child receiving speech services and they do not have this device, I would recommend purchasing one. The clear, instant feedback of auditory information is sure to enhance speech sessions between your child and the SLP.

I’ve asked my son’s SLP to write her own review from her perspective as a professional in the speech-language field. She has been using the Forbrain with my son and a few other clients.

Here is her review : "I highly recommend use of Forbrain for speech-language intervention with those patients with articulation/phonological disorders and challenges with suprasegmentals of speech. I have not yet had opportunity to use it for targeting memory and processing, however I suspect it is highly beneficial for those language aspects as well."

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