Going to the doctor is a regular thing we all do in life. If you’re  a deaf or hard of hearing teen, then you will get to a point where you want to start visiting the doctor without your Mum and Dad present.

That’s not such a big deal for a hearing teen, but if you are deaf or hard of hearing, those visits to the doctor need to be thought out a little.

If you make the decision to see the doctor on your own, how can you make it deaf-friendly? What do you need to prepare for?

Think about what happens now:

  • Does your parent make the appointment?
  • Does you parent do most of the talking when you’re in the room?
  • Which doctor do you see?
  • Is there patient history or do you see anyone in the medical centre who’s available?

Yikes, it’s a bit of a minefield isn’t it!

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. This is all part of the process to independent living. Being able to advocate for yourself and have the confidence to attend appointments on your own is the path to adulthood we all face.

Get Organized For a Doctor’s Appointment

So here are a few tips to help you get organised for a doctor visit.

  1. If you prefer to use sign language, ask the receptionist if there are interpreter services available prior to booking your appointment.
  2. Turn up on time and let the receptionist know your deaf (or hard of hearing). Indicate whether you need her to get you when your time is called.
  3. Rehearse what you want to say to the doctor once you’re sitting in front of him/her.
  4. Make a list of questions you want to ask prior to attending so you don’t forget to ask.
  5. Feel confident to ask about missing your time being called and approaching the reception desk for clarification. We all know doctors can run well after scheduled times and the even the most seasoned patient will ask at some point!
  6. Alert the doctor that you are deaf (if they don’t know you personally) before you start and advise the best way to communicate with you. If your doctor continually doesn’t take your communication needs into consideration then it’s okay to ask for another doctor when making your next appointment.
  7. If the doctor speaks and turns away, remind the doctor to face you when speaking so that you don’t miss what is being said.
  8. Don’t be scared to ask the doctor to repeat anything you have not understood correctly. Your health is important, even it if it feels embarrassing to ask the doctor to repeat or remind them – it is your right to make sure you know what is happening.

Life and Goal Skills

Are you feeling confident that you would be able to handle a solo doctor’s appointment well?

Practise makes perfect!  If you’re unsure how you will cope, you can always take your Mum, Dad or friend to the appointment with you. Ask them to sit outside while you speak to the doctor. They can then be on hand to step in if you need them.

It’s a pretty big ask to be confident enough to advocate for yourself as a teenager. It’s not something that comes easily to most teens but there are lots of techniques and strategies you can learn to help you overcome nerves and lack of confidence.

If you’re aged between 12-18 years and are deaf or hard of hearing, come along to one of our workshops. Our Life Goals and Skills program focuses on communication and conflict resolution, teamwork and leadership. You can discover strategies that help you become more confident and social  while advocating your hearing loss. You can find more information here.