You may find that making friends has become more difficult as you have gotten older. That’s because most children interact with each other by playing; children bond over a love of shared activities or sports, like playing with dolls or playing soccer. However, as children get older, talking and communication becomes more important. You may find it challenging to hang out with a large group of people because following conversation may become more difficult with more people.
You may feel comfortable hanging out with hearing friends; but, if you don’t, that’s okay. Having friends with hearing loss means that they will understand what you’re going through. Many schools have clubs for deaf teens, including a Junior National Association of the Deaf (Jr. NAD). If there are no existing clubs like this at your high school, do not be afraid to set up a group for deaf students to be able to meet and discuss things with each other. You may talk about your challenges or your successes; either way, you will find support and ideas from those around you. Also, do not hesitate to ask to be put into classes with students who also have hearing loss if that’s what you are more comfortable with. Another option for meeting other teens with hearing loss is to attend summer programs like Explore Your Future or Gallaudet University’s Young Scholar’s Program.
If you do feel more comfortable spending time with other deaf or hard-of-hearing teenagers, remember that it is important to go outside of your comfort zone. Having hearing friends is important, too. Joining a sports team may be a good option; when everyone is working towards a common goal, camaraderie and friendship are bound to happen. Join groups or clubs that interest you or that you are talented in. As with sports, bonding over the love of something, like art or books, will generate friendship.
Useful Sites for Teenagers
This website has a lot of different resources, from lists of schools for the deaf to recent news articles; they also have sign language links.
Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature
This blog includes information on books for adolescents that feature deaf characters, which would appeal to the teen/young adolescent that loves to read.