For a deaf teenager transitioning from middle to high school, this is an exciting, yet nerve-wracking time. But I’ve learned not to sweat it- it’s a new experience, but you get used to it very quickly.
Being in high school includes new responsibilities – including being more responsible for your communication needs. I can’t stress enough how important it is to speak with your teachers these first few weeks of school, and inform them of your hearing loss or 504 plan.
For me, this was a huge hurdle. I had never talked to my teachers about my disability in middle school. I was and still am a quiet person. If you or your kids are having trouble or are uncomfortable with talking to teachers, here is some general advice:
First of all, your teachers need to know if you need any special accommodations. This could include siting you near the front of the class, using a microphone (such as Phonak Roger technology), or anything else that they should do to help you, a deaf student, succeed in the classroom. Usually your teachers are provided with this information, but it’s a good idea to check with them anyway.
Because I didn’t do this my freshman year, I paid the price. The seating charts often had me sit in the back or in a horrible place to lip-read.
I have a profound hearing loss, and with that some communication issues. I often stumble over my words or leave out or mispronounce them.
If you encounter these issues, don’t let them stop you from talking. Keep going. Correct yourself or take a split second break to stop talking-your teachers will understand. Try and slow down if you talk fast; I find this helps me get my point across better.
I get it, you might feel like a burden compared to your peers who don’t have hearing loss or are deaf. Point blank- you aren’t. Your teachers are there to teach you, to help you do well. Didn’t hear something? Ask them to repeat it!
Don’t stress about your classmates judging you. It seems like you are calling lots of attention to yourself, but you aren’t. Not only does it not matter what they think but nobody really cares.
Independently talking to your teachers may feel awkward. The feelings of anxiety building up to the moment, while pesky, don’t last forever.
Again, I used to be a horrible communicator, and every time I had to talk to a teacher about something personal, I froze up. I had to force myself to get up and go talk. As you get older and used to bringing up your hearing loss, it becomes second nature. The skills you develop now will definitely help you in the long run.
And, yes, this does seem a tad overly optimistic. Of course, nobody immediately has better communication skills after talking to a teacher once. But I promise you, as long as you challenge yourself to take initiative and talk consistently, you will improve.