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  • Eagle path for a dwarf

    My troop is going to have a dwarf (one of two appropriate names for this condition-the other being Little Person, but this scout's parents prefer dwarf) cross over next year. Since I know this scout and his parents and am also a Boy Scout leader (he's in my younger son's den), I came up with the idea for my diversity ticket to counsel this boy, his parents and my troop as to how the BSA might accommodate this boy's disAbilities (as they are referred to in the BSA literature). Has anyone worked with a dwarf before? For example, Lifesaving would probably not be possible because he won't be able to do a cross-chest carry. Camping might not be possible because none of the four physical options look viable.

    I already know the technical path to get alternative merit badges worked out, who to contact at council, etc., but any input from those who've walked this path before would be helpful.

    Looking for some thoughts here...thanks.
    Vicki

  • #2
    Don't know if this helps any, but here it goes...

    I have never worked with a dwarf, but I have worked with a number of other scouts with disabilities. What I have found works well is to meet with the scout and parents separately on several different ocassions to come up with a workable plan for advancement. The first meeting is to essentially present the overall plan for advancement to Eagle focusing on the rank and required merit badge requirements. I leave them with a copy of the requirements list and ask them to take a month or two to review the list for specific requirements that they feel may pose an insurmountable challenge due to the disability. We then sit down when they are ready and review the requirements again and discuss the areas of concern and possible alternatives. We focus on the requirements through First Class first since that it the primary challenge for the upcoming year. Then we focus on the merit badges that he can reasonably be expected to work on in the next two years (e.g., Communications, Family Life, First Aid, Citcom, etc.). The more physically demanding merit badges are typically not a first year concern even for able-bodied scouts and so we typically leave those for a follow-up meeting later in the year or when we sit down again to plan the advancement goals for the upcoming year. As the scout gains experience over the years, requirements that at first seemed insurmountable suddenly look a lot less difficult.

    It really requires an individualized effort on the part of the SMs, scout and his parents, a little more time and focus, but in the end it is oh so worth it.

    Since you know your Council's method of getting alternatives approved, I'll leave that one alone.

    Best of luck to you and the scout.

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm glad you're familiar with the path to alternate merit badges.

      Let me preface my comments by saying that a relative of mine is learning disabled. He and his parents were told early on by educators that the boy would never get through the 8th grade.

      Fortunately for him, his parents didn't buy it and neither did he. He's getting his Associates Degree this spring.

      I'm not sure I'd let the boy off the hook on Lifesavging. The example given was that he wouldn't be able to do a cross chest carry. Why not teach him a modified method? Perhaps using both arms and kicking really, really hard. What do we want him to do if he's ever in a position where he needs to do a rescue or someone will die? I've met some dwarfs and the ones I've met were pretty strong. In some cases very strong.

      It's been a long time since I looked at the requirements for Camping merit badge, but I bet he could earn it if he put his mind to it. I'd recommend encouragement, cajoling, and anything else you would do to help any other Scout.

      I also think that working him is an excellent idea for the diversity item on your ticket. By doing so, I think you'll both increase the understanding of each other.

      Unc.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks, Uncle, Semper - keep those thoughts coming! There are multiple issues with the lifesaving MB, but I do take your point, Uncle. Unless the scout is getting too discouraged, let him do whatever he can. This kid is a scrapper (and likeable), I'm looking forward to working with him. The alternative path instructions are pretty clear about the requirements for a MB not being modifiable (don't think that's a word). For example, the cross-chest carry is a specific requirement. Sounds like a question for my council person.

        Semper, as you point out, this is something that will take time. My initial goal (as in the ticket goal) is to inform the scout and his parents that there are multiple ways to do this, how to accomplish the goal, where the pitfalls are, and that the BSA is open to the disAbled. I read that one of the three founders (James ? - my notes aren't in front of me) was disabled. Obviously I'll be mentioning that in our first conference. Just as obviously this will be going on after I finish my ticket.

        So far I've found the understanding and learning part of Scouting is definitely a two-way street.

        Vicki

        Comment


        • #5
          I know that this doesn't touch on the original topic too much, but I have been a counselor for the aquatics merit badges for multiple years and if anyone would like specific help regarding these badges and differentely abled scouts, feel free to drop me a line. Peace always...

          Comment


          • #6
            I look forward to the answers to this question. Our pack has a young man that is about to cross-over to a troop. Don't know if he's technically a dwarf, he has normal porportions, but he's the height of a small 4-year-old, at most. When I'm sitting down, I'm taller than he is standing up. Both of his parents are on the short side, so he comes by it honestly.

            I find myself wondering how he'll do in a troop. Don't see how he could backpack, the packs are taller than he is, etc.

            Comment


            • #7
              I have worked with several young scouts who have had disabilities. The one that comes to mind was born with 1 arm. His most amazing accomplishment to me wasn't earning Eagle but on the way there earning the Rifle Shooting MB. He out shot most of camp that week. He had 3 things going for him, supportive parents, a creative imagination and determination.

              The Camping MB should be no problem for this young man. There are several options that he can choose from to earn this badge. Backpacking the 4 miles should be easy if he doesn't have a problem walking. If he can swim, planning and carrying out a Float plan could be accomplished with no problem. You can always cut a paddle to his size if need be. He can always earn the Emergency Preparedness MB in lieu of the Life Saving MB for Eagle. Seek ways to advance the boys' abilities, he will overcome the obstacles in his way and probably impress you more than he already has.

              Comment


              • #8
                Vickie,

                Before you sell this boy short (sorry, I couldn't resist)...remember he has lots of time...He will grow in strength and maturity if nothing else. DO NOT LIGHTEN THE LOAD IN ADVANCE!

                Young men continue to surpise me year after year. Let him determine what he can and can't do...as he progresses. He WILL surprise you. If you start lowering the bar early and needlessly you short change the young man before he even finds out what he can do...give it time...he does not have to earn his EAGLE in one or three years...let him tackle what he can early and then make adjustments. NEVER SET THE BAR TO LOW...if he does aim high he may be able to hit the stars, but if you aim low...can he do anything but follow your lead? GIVE HIM THE CHANCE.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Anarchist, no need to shout at me, it's not about setting the bar too low for the scout - it's about what he can do given his disability. Dwarfs aren't just "smaller people." Many dwarfs have spinal instabilities which can make some activities unsafe. I found out after talking to his parents yesterday that, while his spine is stable for now, it may be a problem in the future as he grows. We just don't know. Dwarfs can also have issues with microencephaly. None so far in this young man but, again, who knows what the future holds? What we do know is that this young man has significant weakness on his left side which makes some activities difficult. We don't know if this is going to go away. He also must wear a helmet during some activities when a normal youth wouldn't because of surgeries he's had.

                  There are no plans to limit his activities unnecessarily. But finding out what defines necessary is imperative.

                  Vicki

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Whoops, typo alert - in my previous post, I typed "microencephaly". I meant "hydroencephaly". While the former is a problem in dwarfism, it's obvious at birth. The latter, water on the brain, can develop later.

                    Vicki

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hi Vickil

                      Some good advice from the others, I can only add that in many situations the parents have to take the lead, but this is probably as much a learning process for the parents as it is you. They simply don't know. I learned to work with the parents as a team and it works best when everyone is open and flexible. Which brings me to the other part of this; the District and Council helped me when the requirements restricted the scout progress in the program. I found everyone wants the program to be a positive growth experience for all the scouts, so just call them when situations require it.

                      You just never know where these guys will go. Im a certified Professional Pilot and one of my instructors was dwarf. Last I heard, he now flys for a small airline.

                      Have a great week.

                      Barry

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Barry wrote "but this is probably as much a learning process for the parents as it is you."

                        Absolutely. The reason I selected this as a ticket item was because I had talked to his mother(my younger son and this scout are in the same Webelos den) and I knew how nervous and clueless she was about the process. Sometimes, and I'm sure you'll find this hard to believe (tongue firmly in cheek), the BSA and its procedures can seem pretty monolithic! Being a little further down the line (leader in older son's troop) it seems a little less so. Once you start making phone calls/writing e-mails, doors start opening and discussion starts happening. Google is really wonderful in these situations, too. It's amazing what other councils have on their websites - especially Marin.

                        Vicki

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          As a WB Patrol Guide, Im curious to how you wrote the ticket. Working with families of disabled scouts was a very long process, how do you know when you complete this part of your ticket?

                          Barry

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Barry, you're right - it would be way too much to expect a ticket item out of a years' long process of growth.

                            The verification of completion was two-fold. First, the meeting with the parents which resulted in their understanding of the process and my understanding of their son's specific disabilities and needed accommodations (in this case as of right now, there are no accommodations needed for Eagle-required merit badges). Obviously, I had to come to an understanding of the process, who the contacts are, and research all merit badge requirements prior to this meeting. I had also talked to his parents on more than one occasion. Also had to develop my own resources.

                            The second part was discussing what the troop might need to do to integrate this scout, what the Scoutmaster and responsible camping adults need to know (for instance, when he needs to wear a helmet).

                            Vicki

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hi Vicki

                              I wasnt trying to imply anything, thats a pretty good ticket item and one I would like to suggest to others. I think my experience was blinding me to ideas of how to make it a ticket, and I was wondering how you did it. I expect that what ever your results are, you could write a how to book of units working with disabilities. Your focus is on dwarfs, but I imagine most of what you learn can apply to most disabilities. If I were your TG, I would suggest your report be distributed to your district, and possibly the council.

                              Good luck and thanks for all the families whose life you make more enjoyable.

                              Barry

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