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Adult Leader with Disability

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  • Adult Leader with Disability

    Out Troop currently has a Scout with a severe learning disability. He cannot retain knowledge. He understands the concepts when taught to him but after a day or two he cant recall it. This is so severe that he is not required to take final exams in school.
    He will be receiving his last Merit Badge for Eagle next week and will turn 18 in August.
    Next year he will be a senior in High School.

    His Mom is very active on the Troop Committee and he would like to stay active with the Troop until he finishes high school.
    After that they will most likely not be continuing on due to he will need specialized training to hold a job and he would like to learn how to drive.
    I talked with his mom about him continuing past next year but he can only handle so many activities at once and his mom feels that adding scouting into his schedule will be to much.

    I am looking for ideas on what type of role he could do for the Troop as an ASM in the fall and for the following year.


  • #2
    Have you asked him what he would like to do?

    What talents and interests does he have?


    • #3
      It seems to me that there is going to a lot of new things coming at this Lad all at once.
      You can keep him a charter, there is a title and code that I think I know but can't remember at this moment. I feel sure your Council Registrar would know!!
      Give the Lad a chance to sort things out and get used to all the new things.
      Let him and his Mother know that the door will be open when and if he returns.
      If that time does come then sit down with him and work out what the needs of the Troop are and where he fits in with helping to meet these needs.
      There is in our Council a Scouter who has all sorts of problems and is also deaf and dumb. He is in his late 40's. I don't know him very well, but I see him at the OA weekends that I attend and when I look in at camp. Most times he is busy mowing grass or painting. He really likes collecting patches and when I remember I raid the Tupperware Box and bring him up a couple.
      I have no idea what he does in his home unit, but he works his tail off getting camp ready for the summer.


      • #4
        Hi Semper

        That is the approach I was planning on taking but I wanted some suggestions in case I got the "I don't know" or "I'm not sure" answer.
        He's not planning on leaving the troop when he turns 18, he wants to stay through high school. I think that he has something to offer if I can figure it out what will work.
        Also it just doesn't seem that the other leaders are real attentive about things. My son been in the Troop for 3 months and still hasn't been presented with a Troop neckercheif. I asked the SM and got "Oh, I forgot".
        If I leave this up to others to do something nothing will get done.
        I just don't want him coming to meeting and just hanging around and not contributing.


        • #5
          We have a Star Scout who will be turning 16 shortly who is significantly retarded, but not nearly as disabled as the boy you describe.

          His father works (Troop Commmittee hair) works with him intensively, which is most of the reason for his advancement (to Life Scout shortly, as I understand it). He hasn't needed waivers to advance.

          He's good at music and is the Troop Bugler. His worst vice is being lazy, and until the past weekend he hadn't bugled since a Court of Honor last October. I've been strongly encouraging him to bugle at troop meetings, outings, Camporee and such. Last weekend, our Scoutmaster brought along a bugle, but our bugler was so out of practice he could scarcely get a correct note out for the flag ceremonies.

          We are continuing to encourage him to bugle, including at a daycamp we will be setting up at an elementary school carnival this next weekend. I would REALLY like to see him be a motivated bugler, since it's classy and a good leadership opportunity for him.

          This same boy led a couple of songs at The Cub Pack campfire. He is a master of song lyrics, and does a good job of encouraging participation. At the daycamp, we may have a campfire and I'd like to see this Scout help plan the campfire program and lead the campfire. He LIKES being a leader, and finding him opportunities to be a leader is one of the best things we can do for him, I think.

          I like Eamonn's story about the handicapped Scouter who mows the grounds.

          Getting to know such people well enough to know what they can do and want to do, and then looking for opportunities to do those things is one of the ways Scouting can help such people, I think. Not much different than how any other boy or adult is treated, if you look at it right.

          Seattle Pioneer


          • #6
            Would he fit in as ASM of the first year program (or one of two ASMs)

            Or may be he could work with the QM?

            My worry would be can he take and retain the youth protection training? He may be a prime canidate for causing him self a heap of trouble by hanging out with his old scout buddies.


            • #7
              Sounds like you could use a leader that welcomes new scouts to the unit with some enthusiasm, presenting neckerchiefs (troop numbers, red tabs, etc). Start him out with this and maybe he grows to helping with your new scout patrol?


              • #8
                Speaking as an Assistant Den Leader (soon to be Asst. Patrol Leader)with Multiple Sclerosis, I would encourage you to speak frankly with this young man's Mother. I realize you have already spoken with her, but find out (within privacy constraints) what her son is capable of doing within the Troop. Has she been active in helping her son work through the activities to attain his ranks and achievements? If so, will she continue to do so? If not, what does she expect from the Troop during this last year?

                Does he have any particular interests or hobbies? Perhaps those could be incorporated as his role to help him through the next year. Will it require more effort to lead this Scout than others? Yes.
                However, if we all remember "The Law of the Pack" I don't recall there being any small print mentioning "if you have any health problems, mental or learning disabilities you are not welcome by the Boy Scouts of America."

                Those of us with dis"ABLE"ities, for the most part, don't want to burden or cause hardship on others. In our Pack, we have several Scouts with varying degrees of ADHD, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, and other medical problems. If you truly want to help these boys you must dedicate yourselves to dealing with it. Their parents may try to use Scouting as a form of "escapism" for themselves, so that they can have a break for an hour or so. Try your best to keep them involved! They live with these boys every day and can provide clues to what works and what doesn't. It's all a matter of getting through to them.

                We all have something to offer. Some of us simply have more of a problem offering it! Don't give up on him...he has a gift to offer your Troop.

                Humbly Submitted,



                • #9

                  Surfinwahine - One of my concerns is if I do not take the initiative on this the other Troop Leaders would be happy to just let him come to meetings and just hang around until he stops showing up. I understand, especially with volunteers, that everyone needs to contribute to the organization. I feel that this Scout has a lot to bring to the troop and I would like to keep him active.

                  Semper Excellent Idea. Welcoming new scouts is an area that the Troop feels it really needed to improve in and is the type of job that he can easily handle with a little guidance. Actually, I volunteered to take on this responsibility next year but there is a lot that he can do to help in this.