Being a teenager with hearing loss can mean additional challenges to the already complex experiences of finding your feet in high school. It can be difficult to face new social and school’ pressures and to decipher what strategies still work and which are best left behind.
It is a sure bet that by the time you have made it this far, you have already figured a few things out.
For instance, you’ve probably learned that telling other people how your device works and why you need it, cuts down on the probability that they will act weird around you. Letting adults and friends know what your needs are and asking for consideration when they communicate with you, helps them know how to include you.
What other SuperHEARo skills could be useful to master?
Daring to be Different
The visibility of your device might be less obvious, but it can’t be completely hidden in the figurative sense. Denying or trying to hide your hearing loss doesn’t help. Instead, build and demonstrate self-confidence by owning your situation. Choose to surround yourself with friends who appreciate you as an individual and accept that hearing loss is just one of the unique traits that helps makes you who you are. By making them aware of your disability, you can control how people communicate with you or around you so you are always able to follow the conversation. If you try and conceal it, you may end up feeling left out.
Keeping it Positive
People have the choice to put others down, lift them up or walk stoically side-by-side.
Has someone avoided eye contact with you, looked down on you with pity, openly taunted you, or ignored you on purpose? These responses can sometimes trigger deep emotions.
It is important that you have friends and adults whom you trust to speak to when the negative aspects of growing up with hearing loss start to affect you.
The truth is that all through your life, there might be people who react insensitively to who you are. It is important to realize that this is true for everyone, with or without a disability. Don’t get dragged down into negativity by people who make incorrect assumptions about you or treat you poorly.
Know your own inherent worth; treat yourself and others with the dignity each individual deserves.
Life is more enjoyable when you keep it positive, even if this sometimes takes extra effort. Being positive is a conscious decision!
Hearing loss can be frustrating, especially when you miss out on the pop quiz announcement your teacher made whilst she was facing the black-board, or you run into issues hearing the coach on the field, or don’t catch the after-school plans your friends hollered from too far down the hall.
Every person will go through moments in Life worrying about abandonment, inclusion, exclusion and a sense of belonging. How each of us creatively transforms these moments to better ourselves is vital. No one can make you ‘level up’ but yourself. Make the most of every opportunity and don’t allow anything to stifle your creativity or style.
When it does happen, be courageous and get creative with ways to put the negatives into perspective. Knowledge is Key. Educate yourself on what your device can and can’t do and which accessories are available that may help. Don’t let misinformation keep you out of the water or on the side-lines. Instead, empower yourself to get active and involved in the sports or activities that you enjoy. This could mean drumming in a garage band, trying out for the school theatre production, running cross-country, or searching for perfect waves to ride.
Creative Power means that you don’t let others’ limited viewpoint or a negativity discourage you from going for it!
A future to get excited about
South Africa has strict laws to protect your rights to education and services. All over the world, outdated and discriminating attitudes towards being differently-abled are being challenged and changed.
What do you want to study? The possibilities are endless! When it comes to what you want to pursue your ambition is the only limit!
Equal opportunity has been fought for by the diligent work of advocates and pioneers. These SuperHEARoes have shown that people with hearing loss are just as capable of achieving their dreams. Here is a collection of some inspiring home grown South African SuperHEARoes. & CI-user Christopher Zaine Higgins featured in our July 2016 Newsletter is yet aother example of what ambition can achieve!
Life is Edgy & a Gamble
Be patient with yourself as you find your footing. Do your best to communicate your needs in a way which encourages collaboration.
Don’t be quiet if you are being bullied, speak out, and seek support. Remember, being a teenager can just be plain rough sometimes, whether you have hearing loss or not. So try not to fall victim to your disability for what doesn’t go your way. In the middle of it all just do your best.
Your Experiences can Help you ‘Level-Up’
The tough times you’ve been through and the unfair ways in which you may have been treated offer the opportunity to develop your own compassion for others who may also face similar struggles. Use your first-hand knowledge of how it feels, to reach out to others who might be getting bullied because of their disability or difference.
Be an advocate and stand up for kindness, teach others that difference doesn’t disqualify! It brings new ways of seeing things, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Hearing loss is but only one part of you, and it too will have pro’s & con’s.
Be more than your difference, Be Yourself!
For any information or advice, please call our offices on 011 667 6243