Teens, Tweens, and Transitions: Helping Young People Adjust to Life’s Changes
Growing up can be difficult, and not all children react well to change. Switching from one level of school to another, even with familiar classmates, brings new challenges to navigate, along with new hallways. For children with hearing impairments, there are further adjustments. For young people who spend time visiting healthcare professionals and specialists, the shift from pediatric to adult treatment means adapting to new people and taking on new responsibilities.
I Brought It to the Kitchen Table
Kathleen and her family discuss her life growing up with a hearing impairment.
The many changes faced by young people as they transition through childhood and the teen years served as the inspiration for the Ida Institute’s Growing Up with Hearing Loss process. The series of meetings, held virtually with a group of international pediatric experts, looked at the different periods of transitions in a child’s life and explored the information and resources children and their families need to make those transitions easier.
Growing Up with Hearing Loss aims to help children and young people with hearing impairments learn to manage their hearing loss, advocate for themselves, and maintain independence as they shift into different phases of their young lives.
What are the major transitions groups?
- Foundation/support (3-6) – daycare or preschool
- Discovery (6-9) – primary school
- Exploration (9-12) – secondary school
- Co-empowerment (14-18) – high school
- Personal responsibility (18+) – ongoing education and job training
Each age group faces different challenges. For example, young children starting daycare or preschool may be concerned about being in an unfamiliar environment. Teenagers may worry about how they will fit in and how their hearing impairment makes them different. Young adults entering the workforce or higher education may have to explain their hearing impairment to a whole new set of people, perhaps advocating for themselves independently for the first time.
The Growing Up with Hearing Loss group has taken inspiration from other areas of health, as well as from education and extracurricular activities such as sports. Group members also looked at Self-Determination Theory and considered how its three central tenets relate to Growing Up with Hearing Loss:
- Relatedness – the desire for positive, understanding relationships that facilitate motivation and growth
- Competency – the perception of success through different achievements, which allows us to learn in our environment and feel in control
- Autonomy – the feeling of being independent, having choices to make and the ability to make them, which is supported by the family and social environment
Growing Up with Hearing Loss participant Dave Gordey notes that in order to make successful transitions, children also need integration, constructive social development and consideration of their personal well-being.
The product of the Growing Up with Hearing loss meetings is an online framework that can be used by children and young adults with hearing loss, parents and hearing care professionals to help young people navigate the various transitions in their lives. This includes background information on key issues and challenges affecting each group and areas where children and young adults may need to make adjustments as they grow older, including emotional, environmental, intellectual, physical, and financial areas. The framework covers not only transitions from one school level to another, but transitions up to age 18 and beyond, when young people move out of education or higher education and into the workforce. The online framework features video interviews with teens and young adults about how they have managed key transitions in their lives.
“With our Growing Up with Hearing Loss project, we hope we have created a means for children and families to navigate those first challenges and help young people to take their first steps towards a well-adjusted, independent life,” says Ida Managing Director Lise Lotte Bundesen. “Whatever their age, people with hearing loss need support from their hearing care professionals and communication partners to manage changes both predictable and unpredictable.”