The high school experience and identity

Identity is the core of the adolescent journey. Young people that are deaf and hard of hearing face all the usual adolescent challenges and triumphs with respect to emerging identity. In addition, they face challenges relating to language, communication and feelings of being an outsider with hearing peers.

It is vital that at this age for parents to have insight into the particular challenges that face their deaf and hard of hearing kids. In particular, now more than ever, it is really important for parents to have an understanding of deafhood and the ways in which hearing loss intersects with social and cultural identity.

How we help

We at HEARO offer a supported journey from birth right through to adulthood for families with deaf and hard of hearing kids. You can connect into our Parent to Parent Mentor Program at any stage of your child’s journey. We can match you with another parent whose teen is a little further along this journey.

In our experience, the role of parents changes most significantly in the High School years. We encourage you as parents to respect and empower your deaf and hard of hearing child as they journey toward their own identity and independence.

To find out how we can help support you and your child on this developing identity journey:

Useful links

Here are some further links to help you and your child on their Identity journey:

Young and older adults share their high school experiences

Ela’s story

I was the only deaf student at hearing school! Back then I did not have interpreters or note takers!

High school was challenging because of the number of teachers I had across all the different subjects. The worst were the ones that had accents! I was told to get out of the classroom twice in my high school days because I was asking too many questions, unable to keep up!

My friends tried to defend me. Unfortunately, my hearing aids were not good enough to hear from a distance. And the teachers didn’t understand that I needed some things to be explained more than once. It is vital all teachers have DAT and encourage deaf students to participate in class.

My only advice for deaf students is not to be afraid to ask for help!! I wish I did that back then. High school made me feel intimidated to the extent that I built a wall around myself. It was easier sometimes to just copy whatever was on the blackboard and that’s not the best way to learn.

Daniel’s story

I am a kid of the late 70s and 80s. With every generation things change including access to technology.

In high school, I have to say I felt very isolated as a person with hearing loss. It was not always easy to grasp what was happening in class even though I had a note taker with me for years.  I did not have an NZSL interpreter at the time.

When I came across people who were deaf,  I had no clue about sign language or had any awareness of deaf culture.Technology and the internet was nothing like it is today. Honestly, my opinion is kids of today should take advantage of all the information and resources that are available to them.

Taryn’s story

High school was really difficult for me as I was the only deaf person in my school. I didn’t have access to an interpreter and only had a note taker for a few classes.

Communication was definitely the biggest problem. I was told I must wear “FM”. It made me feel small being told what to do all the time. No one knew signs, so I had to learn how to be part of the hearing community. There were lots of “say that again ” and “pardon” because I couldn’t keep up in class. On the whole, I found my school experience to be a really sad one. Parents need to understand their own deaf child/ren better. This is why I am sharing my story. I want all kids to have good school experiences, not to be miserable like I was in high school.

Kate’s story

I met another deaf girl in late primary school and that was an amazing connection for me. Having another person to share my hearing loss experience with made all the difference.

I was also keen to learn about deaf role models, which is why I fell in love with Children of A Lesser God. I was 15 when that movie came out.

Further information

At HEARO, we’re always looking for ways to continuously improve our service.

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