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46 LEARNING TO USE HEARING AIDS whole, however, both groups preferred normal-hearing companions. The majority of the children said that they preferred not to have hard-of-hearing friends because it made them feel self-conscious when they were with normal-hearing people. However, it appears that their choice of friends depended largely upon propinquity and that they associated for the most part with those children with whom they attended school or near whom they lived. Even though they had contacts with other hard-of-hearing children at the New York League for the Hard of Hearing, they did not cultivate them socially. Generally, both groups chose companions of about their own age. Among the aid wearers there were two boys who chose friends older than themselves. One boy in the no-aid group stated a preÂ ference for companions younger than himself ; he is immature in his emotional development and very likely would feel insecure among boys of his own age. With younger children he is able to realize his desire for domination and leadership. The girls in both groups showed more interest in the opposite sex than did the boys. Forty-five per cent of the aid wearing girls and sixty per cent of the no-aid girls talked about "dates," whereas 3 6 per cent of the aid wearing boys and none of the no-aid boys exÂ pressed interest in girls. In one case, a mother said that her daughter had persistently told her that she does not want to marry anyone who is hard of hearing. She gave as her reason the fact that if there were a fire or an accident, neither one would be aware of it. With one exception, all the other girls who were thinking about their future status expressed similar desires to marry normai-hearing men. One girl expressed a preference for marrying someone who was similarly afflicted because she felt there would be less conflict if she were married to a man who had complete understanding of her handicap. It is .interesting to note that four of the girls who were interviewed related that they had gone out recently with wounded war veterans ; they felt that the stigma of having a handiÂ cap was diminished as a result of increased contact by the general public with war casualties. As to group activities, proportionately fewer aid wearers beÂ longed to clubs than did the members of the no-aid group. FortyÂ two per cent of the aid wearers and 47 per cent of the no-aid
SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS 47 group reported actual membership in organized groups. There were in both groups a larger percentage of boys than girls who particiÂ pated in such activities ( 5 7 per cent of the aid wearers and 5 0 per cent of the no-aid group ) . The aid wearing boys chose as their clubs such organizations as : Boy Scouts, neighborhood athletic clubs, the Audubon Society, Air Raid Wardens, and CDVO. The girls who wear aids reported memÂ bership in the Girl Scouts, athletic clubs, artd the Red Cross. The no-aid girls belonged to church clubs, the Girl Scouts, and choir groups. The boys in this group mentioned only the Boy Scouts. It is interesting to note that two of the boys who are wearing hearÂ ing aids were patrol leaders in their Scout troops. Both of them wear aids to Scout meetings. The majority of the children have contact with the New York League for the Hard of Hearing. It may be that those children who do not wear their aids are more likely than the others to join organized groups since less initiative is required to participate in an established activity than is necessary for making individual social contacts. With reference to the unorganized activities, all the boys and girls in the aid wearing group specified some outside interests. In the no-aid group, however, two girls and one boy mentioned that they had no special interests and engaged in relatively few activities. The activities were analyzed to see whether they were carried on alone or involved the participation of one or more persons. For all groups these were rather evenly divided. Among the activities which could be considered of a solitary nature, reading was menÂ tioned most frequently by the aid wearing girls. Movies were also very popular, but none of the girls ever attended alone. Dancing was the most popular group activity. The boys who wore aids talked with equal frequency of interests in model airplanes, comic strips, and reading. Among the activities involving one other person, playing ball was favored. Football and baseball led in popularity among the group activities. In the no-aid group, the girls again expressed interest in reading, movies, and dancing . . The no-aid boys' interests also were similar to those of the aid wearers. In general, the interests of the aid wearers and no-aid groups are very similar as to both type and number of people involved. . These findings reflect the usual pattern found in adolescent he-
48 LEARNING TO USE HEARING AIDS havior as to choice of friends and activities. The girls tend to beÂ long to fewer groups than the boys. They resort to smaller groups and to one or two friends for companionship in their activities. They choose companions mainly within their neighborhood. The boys exhibited a greater spirit of adventure in their tendency to join larger groups and to participate in more organized recreational activities. There are no apparent differences between the aid and no-aid wearers in their friends and their choice of activities, except that the no-aid wearers are more likely to join organized groups. There were several cases that 5howed a noticeable change from inadequate social adjustment to increased social activity after beÂ ginning to use an aid. The parents pointed out in these cases that their children no longer resorted so exclusively to sedentary activiÂ ties within their own homes, but now were able to enjoy many types of recreation that formerly had been impossible for them. An example of this is the case of Polly. The Case of Polly Polly is a plump, quiet, sedate girl. She likes her aid very much and feels better with it. Her speech is quite poor and is rather difficult to unÂ derstand. Polly's school career was one of failures and disappointments. She could not understand her teachers and could not make herself underÂ stood. She always told her teachers that she was hard of hearing, but the special instructionÂ· that they were forced to give her did not help her to keep up with the rest of the group. Polly is one of ten children. Her family considered her a problem beÂ cause of her hearing deficiency. Her mother was very anxious to have her wear an aid because she thought it would help her to get along better with people. Her family lead a varied social life and Polly always felt left out because she could not join in when they had company or gave parties. The mother thinks she has made more friends since she began wearing the aid. Before this, she stayed at home a great deal and moped about the house. When her sisters asked her to go out with them, she often refused and preferred to stay by herself. Now she plays with other chilÂ dren and seems to be well liked. She often goes out with her friends and is considered a leader in sports and games. She enjoys going to parties with her parents and attends church regularly with her sister. On these occasions she always wears her aid. The mother thinks that Polly has never been favored by the rest of the family more than any of the others, but that she has a better time because she is no longer self-conscious or ill-at-ease with people. Although the mother had previously worried about letting Polly go out with her friends, now that she has the aid the mother is no longer concerned about her doing so.
SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS 49 Polly had experienced a long period of unhappiness because she was not able to understand other people. Living in a home that is constantly filled with visitors and social activities had made her feel her handicap keenly. She loves to be in a room full of people. She said, 1 don't want .. my friends to think I am dumb because I don't hear, and now that I wear the aid, I have even more friends than I had before." Her brother takes her every month to a dance given by 'his club. She always wears her aid when she goes because she cannot hear the music without it. She likes to dance and is usually extremely popular at these affairs. Polly said that she was quite willing to subject herself to the curiosity of other people, rather than miss the social contacts that wearÂ ing an aid makes possible. She is so interested in knowing and taking part in everything going on around her that she wears the aid constantly, from the time she gets up in the morning until bedtime. At the convent which she attends she was described by the Sister in charge as being socially well adjusted, of affable disposition, and as fitting in well with her group. She engages in many extra-curricular activities and is particularly adept at athletics. She is a member of the basketball Â· team and has played in competition with teams of other schools. The Sister thinks that Polly has finally overcome her natural shyness. Her excessive timidity before she got her aid may have been caused by the fact that she was always afraid that she would not understand what was going. on about her. She was completely dependent upon her ability to read lips. In this case, a girl who was brought up in a very social atmosÂ phere had become withdrawn and shy as a result of her inability to participate in the activities of her family and friends. Once an adeÂ quate means of communication was provided for her, she became socially well adjusted and was able to overcome her former timidity. She now leads a happy, active social life and no longer suffers from feelings of isolation. Polly's need for social participation has been fulfilled and, as a result, she looks upon the future with great seÂ curity and confidence. Gregariousness is generally accepted as a primary human urge. Once these children were able to expand their social spheres and cultivate more friends, they achieved feelings of belongingness and acceptance by their peers. Identifying themselves with a group provided them with the satisfactions which all adolescents normally crave. It appears that the need for wider social relationships and more companions to some extent motivated the children to wear a hear-
50 LEARNING TO USE HEARING AIDS ing aid. It seems that those children who no longer wore aids were already so insecure in their social lives that they feared to risk any stigma that they felt the wearing of an aid might incur. Their need for social acceptance was a dominating force. Their need for identÂ ification with a group prevented them from using any device which might set them apart as being "different." From this, it may be concluded that social need in and of itself plays a primary role in the decision to use a hearing aid. This social need may take one of two directions : either the individual recogÂ nizes his need and is willing to take steps to improve his situation ; or his fear of jeopardizing his status quo is of such intensity that he will do nothing that might possibly diminish his present position in the group. VII. School Influences A primary concern of adolescent children is their school career. Their lives have been largely ï¿½entered about school and school achievement. They make their decisions in terms of their school progress, their status as members of the school group, and their achievement in school. During this period they are particularly inÂ terested in preparing for their future careers and therefore they evaluate their school achievement in respect to future success. For these reasons, the use or non-use that the children in this group made of their aids in the school situation was particularly significant. Some used their aids because they could not get along in school without them, whereas others refused to wear their aids because they felt the instruments hampered their school careers. Analysis was made of the use of aids in school in relation to school achieveÂ ment, the amount of use in the school situation, and improvement as a result of wearing an instrument. In addition, the attitudes of both classmates and teachers were studied as factors influencing the decisions of hard-of-hearing children in their acceptance of a hearÂ ing aid. Many aid wearing children showed marked improvement in