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Going to parties

Photo: There's no reason why your deaf teen should miss out on going to parties.

Parties can be an exciting part of your teen’s social life and, as they get older, they may be invited to them more frequently. It’s normal to wonder how your deaf teen will get on with loud music, dark rooms and lots of noise, but they don’t have to miss out!

Here are some great tips to help your deaf teen enjoy parties.

Get creative with communication

Before your teen goes to a party, discuss different ways they can make communication easier while they are there. For example, maybe they can use their phone to write messages down or find quieter places like upstairs or in the garden to chat to people.

There will probably be loud music or noise at the party, so it might be difficult to get in touch with your teen while they’re there. It’s a good idea to make sure their phone is on vibrate and arrange a time and place to pick them up if you’re giving them a lift before they go.

Cam (16), who is moderately to severely deaf, has some tips about communication.

“I’ll say to my friends, ‘We need to tell such and such person because I fancy a conversation with them.’ So we’ll go and tell them, ‘I need to be outside to speak with you, are you all right with that?’ Then we’ll go outside and have a conversation there and then go back in.

I never used to be a fan of meeting new people but now I find it quite easy to get a conversation going with someone. Bolton, where I live, isn’t massive so most of the parties I go to, people know who I am. They know I have additional needs and that I need to go outside to have a conversation or at least upstairs, wherever there’s less music.”

Do a tech check

If your teen loves the music or they’re struggling to hear their friends, they might be tempted to turn up their hearing aids. Remind them that this could cause more damage so it’s important they find other ways of communicating and say if the music volume is too loud.

You can also speak to your audiologist about going to parties or places where there is loud music to see what their advice is about your teen’s tech and how they can protect their ears.

“Remember people hardly ever say no,” adds Cam. “So if you ask, ‘Can you turn the music down?’ they won’t say no. I know you might not be confident but if you need it turning down, you need it turning down, just ask. It’s about going about it in the right way. Remember they won’t say no.”

Take some friends

Parties can be full of new people and this can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re deaf or not used to large groups.

Ask your teen whether their close friends are going and how many people they will know at the party. Encourage them to take friends who understand their needs and can support them whilst there. They can help your child communicate and allow them to feel more comfortable.

“If I get invited somewhere I’ll ask if I can bring some of my mates and they always say yes,” Cam says. “Meeting new people can be difficult for everybody, but when you have to explain your hearing loss another element is added. “The main reason I bring people with me is because it’s easier to explain my deafness to someone new if there are lots of people around.”

Confidence is key

Going to parties can be challenging and your teen will likely feel nervous when it’s their first experience. Supporting your teen to own and embrace their deafness and speak up when they can’t hear or need support is a great way to make them feel confident in their deaf identity. It will also help them to feel more in control.

“Be confident, that’s always a big one,” says Cam. “If you’re nervous, people might turn away because they think it’s a bit uncomfortable.”

Find different ways to enjoy parties

It’s okay if your teen didn’t enjoy themselves the first time. Some young deaf people might find parties uncomfortable. That’s perfectly normal. Parties aren’t for everyone and they can take some getting used to.

Remind your child that there are things they can do to make the next time more enjoyable. Maybe they can host the party themselves, so they can control the volume of the music and who comes. If they can’t hear the music, there are other ways to make parties exciting, such as using different types of lighting. This can add an interesting visual element to parties and make communication easier too. They can also play music that has a heavy bass or beat. This kind of music creates strong vibrations and rhythms that you can feel, meaning your teen can enjoy the songs even if they can’t hear them. Electro and techno music are great options!

Cam explains what his ideal party would be.

“It would be outside, preferably in winter, because we could get these big lights outside so you can still see and lip-read. I prefer parties in winter because I like getting wrapped up! There’s still going to be music but because it’s outside it’s not as loud and there will still be flashing lights but it’s outside so they’re not as vibrant or as in your face.”