In a world where hearing is impossible or just vaguely existent, those who are deaf or hearing-impaired usually miss out on some or a large part of a conversation. Those who can normally hear can never imagine what it’s like to be deaf. But if your childhood friend or best buddy is a deaf person, then you’ll perhaps be more empathetic and consider the thought of being deaf yourself. What if you can’t hear and understand conversations going on around you, or the television that you’re watching, or the music playing in the background? You would think that it’s quite depressing and stressful to have hearing loss, and it could be.
“For deaf people, isolation is always an issue,” writes Michael Chorost Ph.D.
If your best friend is deaf or hearing-impaired, here are some useful tips to decrease their feelings of isolation and help them feel a little less discouraged and alone in specific situations that will be discussed here.
In The Park Or Playground
A lot of children and teens hang out in the park and playground for recreation. They talk and make conversation; thus, they socialize. If you’re planning something with your friends and your deaf friend is around, include him in the conversation by writing a text that he can read about the plan. Some deaf persons can understand when somebody’s talking to them, but it’s difficult for them to do that if many people are talking at one time. He’d be ashamed to ask and eventually feel insecure.
“Just as being blind or deaf can be partly disabling, to be out of contact with or cut off from one’s emotions can be partly disabling too because important data is missing,” writes Carl E Pickhardt Ph.D.
Also, there are games that you can play in the park that don’t require you to be talking or listening all the time, like card games and board games. Most kids enjoy playing cards and board games, and these are among their favorite ways to pass the time. Your best friend will not feel left out if he joins.
If you’re planning on exercising or playing a sport, you can always let him join basketball or soccer. They’re easy to follow, and they’re contact sports, something that you and your friend can benefit from physically and mentally. If in case he doesn’t hear the referee blowing the whistle in the middle of the game, you can pat him on the back to signal him to stop.
In-School Or Classroom
People who have a hearing loss or hard of hearing require a line of sight that is directed straight to the blackboard. However, most of these hearing-impaired teens are shy to sit in front of the room because they don’t want the attention. The best you can do is making sure that his line of sights is not blocked. Don’t distract him when he’s trying to lip-read or trying to understand body language from the teacher. When class ends, double-check with him if he had understood the lesson, the homework, or if there were any announcements that he had missed. If there are, then you can go over them with him.
Socializing Outside When you’re out of school grounds, and at parties or get-together with your other friends, you must remember that if you turn away from him, he would have trouble understanding you, especially when there’s loud music in the background. If he’s wearing hearing aids, on the other hand, don’t talk louder because this won’t help. Just be clear with your words like always. Better yet, when you’re in a noisy place, such as in a food hall, you can text each other. It’s easier for both of you, and he doesn’t have to feel uncomfortable with you trying to exaggerate your words so he can understand. “Socializing can provide a number of benefits to your physical and mental health,” writes Angela K. Troyer Ph.D., C.Psych.
Our helpful tips on this article will help you be a better buddy to your deaf friend, and you can make a tremendous change in your friend’s environment when you offer to help. True friendship can be shown in many ways, and being empathic is compassionate is among them. Your help for your deaf friend can go a long way – that’s for sure.