WHY: Sigh…studies show about HALF of children with ADHD present with a reading disability. Click here for full Pediatrics article
WHAT: Whisperphone Duet
DOES: choral reading is engaging and helps you remember what you’ve read; helps you listen more clearly as you read to each other; lets your child pretend to order room service or pizza delivery
TOOLS: Remember to Learn, Foment the Love of Language, More Make-Believe Please
GIVEAWAY: 5 Whisperphones Duets (See details below) Ends 2/20/12 12:01 AM (EST)
The first time I saw a Whisperphone, I knew it would be mine.
When you see it, you may think it’s very low-tech but to me, it is a product born from very advanced thinking.
When I entered the fourth grade, something happened. Reading comprehension became really hard. For our weekly reading test, I would have to read a passage and answer just four questions at the end. I was lucky if I got two correct.
To save myself from a good beating (oh yes, my parents were very very old school), I literally forged their signature on these tests every single week for the whole entire school year. I really don’t know how I got away with it. I think perhaps I just got a beating come report card time. Quarterly beatings beat weekly beatings! Either way, I really struggled that year. I could read the words but for some reason, I’d be lost by the time I reached the middle. I think that is what if referred to as a working memory issue but what did I know back then.
I never liked reading and still don’t love it all that much and don’t quite know how I made it through college and grad school without Kindle apps however, I’m quite done with all of that. Phew.
But not for Number 1 Son. In him, I see struggles that seem to surpass mine but don’t worry, there will be no beatings here.
|#1 wears this as part of his homework routine|
“Express Train to Your Brain”
So I got the Whisperphone. For those of you who read my old blog, you will know that I’m a huge fan. (See this post for additional info) You basically talk into it because one end of the “phone” is at your lips and the other end is at your ear. It’s not as loud as you standing in front of a loudspeaker but rather, the sound is pointed and it’s pointed straight at your ear. But what is best about the Whisperphone is the sleek shape and ability to rest on your head so your hands can be free.
The minute you start speaking into it, you will immediately want to lower your voice but a softer voice is even better. I know this because even though I yell at my kids a lot, I know they hear me and respond to me so much better when I speak in a calmer gentler voice. Sometimes Number 1 tells me that he doesn’t need it but then I ask him why would he ever get the regular engine when he can get the race car super performance engine. And that is what I believe this phone does for him and I constantly remind him that it’s an “express train to his brain.” Yes, it is corny but he is eight and I can get away with that for now.
I don’t really know the science behind it but I know that he can drown out outside noises better with it on his ear. Moreover, because he’s highly distracted, not only is this feature a huge plus, for us, it is just plain necessary. Either way, despite my lack of technical knowledge, the listening-to-yourself-component has got to be helpful because even I frequently say things out loud to flesh things out whether I’m proofreading (my great weakness) or reading something hard (my great weakness’ twin). So I have actually borrowed Number 1′s Whisperphone even though it’s not my size. They have a bigger size for big kids and adults but why would I ever spend any money on me? The blasphemy!
(see bottom of the post about the Social Thinking experience in this video)
Everything is Better When You Have a Friend
So we have the Whisperphone already (actually two- one for school) but now lo and behold, I see something even cooler. There is now something called a Whisperphone Duet. But why make two phones connected to each other? I figure the makers were thinking like this: everything is better when you have a friend.
Everything tastes better when you eat with a friend. Drinking wine or coffee is way more fun with a friend. Scooting and biking is more fun for sure. I would say running is better with a friend but I lack in this experience. However, I can say that eating vegetable crudites is definitely more fun with a friend. So why can’t reading be more fun with a friend?
An Expert Opinion
To learn more about hearing and reading I contacted Lois Heymann, author of The Sound of Hope, who along with Rosie O’Donnell, cast a huge spotlight on Auditory Processing Disorder through Tara Parker Pope’s post in Well, a blog in the New York Times.* I had always thought about how much Number 1 registers when he hears and reads aloud but that article really made me question it more. I actually haven’t stopped questioning it and so I decided to go to someone who knew about about hearing and learning. Lois, who is also the Director of the Auditory Processing Center at the Center for Hearing and Communication in New York City told me a million interesting things about reading with friends, otherwise known as “choral reading,” a chief feature of the Duet.
Lois likes choral reading a lot and uses it often in her practice. “Hearing everybody around you reading and making sounds helps you to make those sounds too,” said Lois who believes that this helps children with their auditory sequential memory which she explained as remembering things in a sequence. “To me, it’s part of reading. It’s part of early literacy.”
“It’s like singing together. I like singing together. I like reading together,” said Lois. I connected with this thought right away because I have been doing something like this with Number 1 but not knowing why. I had been asking Number 1 to put a little oomph into his reading, almost asking him to speak like a news anchor. I love how radio and t.v. reporters use tone and stress to hammer out a point. You can’t forget what they say.
Additionally, about choral reading and keeping up with other kids, Lois added, “it gives you the rhythm and rhythm is very very important in both reading and music, of course, but definitely in reading.” Okay! So this is why my darling Number 1 must like poetry more and how much he has really started to love singing. When he sings, he can pronounce multi-syllabic words and tongue-twisting sentences like he made them up himself.
Need more convincing on choral reading for ADHD children? Click here to read a presentation by Mary Beth Burns Ed.D. who lists choral reading as something that is more likely to engage a student with ADHD.
Reading is my greatest weakness and yet I’m sure I could listen to Lois Heymann talk about it all day long. She enlightened me on many things but one that stuck out was something I was not thinking to do with the Duet and that was me reading to Number 1 with it myself. Of course I thought to use it for play with him but not for reading with him, somehow I thought that would be for school. She stressed the importance of reading to your child even if he can read by himself now. And that is the most interesting part: there are many benefits to reading to your child who has already started reading on his own, she said. It’s too much to talk about here but you can read all about it in Lois’ book. Based on our conversations, it sounds like every family has a lot to gain from her insight. I seriously thought I was doing the right thing by making him read to me every night. While I’m sure it doesn’t put me in the Parents’ Hall of Shame, I think we’ve been missing out on something big. But now, we know better and we use our Duet to help us break from the old routine!
Here is yet another confession. It’s kind of crazy but despite the benefits to reading it has, I love the Duet mostly because it is just plain social fun. I told my kids to read to each other with the Duet to see what they’d do and then Number 1 went to his top bunk while Number 2 went on the bottom bunk to read to Number 1! It really is cool how it stretches. You can purchase attachments to make it longer and I’ve been told that they are working on an attachment to make the Duet include more partners. Cool! I’d love to see a Quintet! In the meantime, we just fool around with our Duet in whichever direction the wind blows our fancy. Our 18 month old nephew came over recently, tried it and loved it, and while I generally let him take home whatever he likes, our Duet doesn’t leave my house (except to go to school and playdates). I told my brother two words: Seventeen dollars. If you look at the cost of all the other reading helpers out there, you’ll see that seventeen dollars is quite a steal.
THE GIVEAWAY: Five Whisperphone Duets Shipped to You Free (Anywhere in the World)
Harebrain is being extremely generous to the readers of A Mom’s View of ADHD!!!! Try your luck and enter to win your own Whisperphone Duet. Your kids will love the new “toy” but you and only you will know that it has superpowers.
Good luck to everyone and thank you for continuing to read Toys are Tools. If by chance, you don’t win, you can always order them from Whisperphone.com, or check the site for the nearest retailer. Lakeshore Learning Materials, a store I will only go to with a predetermined amount of cash because I don’t trust myself with the plastic way of paying, is now carrying Whisperphone products too.
Disclaimer: Every Whisperphone I own was purchased by me however the Whisperphone Duet was submitted by Harebrain to me for review. There were no obligations to write a post.
* Sometimes, you read a blog post and it takes to to a new level of thinking as a parent. Maybe one of mine can do that for you someday in the meantime…. If your child has a learning disability or ADHD, take a look at this post by Tara Parker-Pope whom I’ve followed since her Personal Health column at the Wall Street Journal. This was very inspiring and I pursue #1′s knack for science (not inherited from me for sure) with the same hopes for building confidence.
** This might become its own blog post but I need to strongly recommend the social component of this tool. As you can see in the first video, this little guy does not know what the other person knows on the other end knows. That is why I have to continually ask him questions because he is not giving me enough information because he is assuming I know too much as if I could read his mind. Sometimes, kids get into trouble because they are not thinking about what you are thinking. I learned about this through a curriculum called Social Thinking. It’s an excellent program.
Photos courtesy of Harebrain Inc.
Winners will be contacted after the giveaway period is over. Winner names will be announced on the Facebook page.