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  • Looking for advice for Board of Review

    We have a boy in our troop who has a learning disability. He is classified by the school system. I'm not sure of the exact nature of his disability, but it is very real and obvious. He also has a mild physical disability along with it. He's a super nice kid, but it is very difficult to carry on a conversation. He loses focus quickly and tends to wander off (both literally and emotionally). I've read the information regarding alternative requirements, and have a couple of questions for the esteemed members of this board.

    He has completed the requirements for Tenderfoot. We were generous with him on the physical fitness part, but I have no problem with that. He put forth the effort (much more than some). I've had his Scoutmaster's Conference. It went okay, but I spent most of my time reeling him back in, "Focus, Buddy, let's focus for a minute".... We didn't break much ground, other than he did remember my name and that I'm the Scoutmaster. (We celebrate the little things, you know).

    So now we need to do a Board of Review. This is going to be unlike any one they've ever done. They'll be lucky to get a couple of good answers out of him. My first question is, does anyone have experience conducting BORs for scouts with learning disabilities, and would you share them.

    Second, I have talked to the dad about the alternative requirements. At this point, he doesn't want to do that. We may face that down the road, but he wants to keep him "mainstreamed" for now. My second question is around this process. Is there any issue with waiting to make the request for alternative requirements later? I don't think there would be, but curious if anyone has had this issue come up.

    (Edited for clarity and spelling)(This message has been edited by EagleInKY)

  • #2
    I have a very similar situation, but one step behind where you are and so I can't offer any perspective yet. The younger brother of one of our Eagles joined the troop several months ago. He has Down's and has not yet gone through the first SM conference or BoR. I have obtained the guidebook for alternative requirements but the parents and I haven't really discussed how the Scouting advancement method will be used to help this fellow grow and develop.

    I'm eager to follow the responses to your post.


    • #3
      While I have never had to deal situation.
      I do think that we need to look at what we are reviewing?
      At some stage it was decided that this little fellow was capable of understanding the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
      Sad to say if he is unable to understand these the Lad really has no business being a Scout. ( Yes I know that sounds harsh.)
      When it comes to the review the review must fit the Scout.
      My big question that I would want to try and get an answer for would be has this Lad done his best.
      Deal with him, don't try and compare him to anyone else. After all it is his best, his Oath.


      • #4
        What Eamonn said. Especially since this is his first BOR, I would suggest to the Advancement Chair that he may want to make sure that the Board consists of the most patient and understanding of adults. Those with an ability to possibly relate to this boy and keep things at a level he can understand and respond to. I would expect from your description that the BOR may take a little longer, as the Board attempts to draw out answers. In any event, they need to keep their questions and discussions as simple as possible. Perhaps the parents of the boy can offer some insight to you and the board members on the best method to carry on a conversation with him, surely they should have some expereince in what works. I think everyone (you, CC, adult leaders, BOR members) should have an understanding of what the disability is beforehand so that there is a greater understanding of what the boy has to deal with in his daily living.

        Should be no problem with going for alternative requirements at a later time.


        • #5
          I agree with previous posters. Get the most experienced, patient adults to conduct the BOR and check with the parents first for input on what questions to ask and how to ask them. I should be an interesting experience to see what this young man's perspective is on scouting, which is a main purpose of a BOR. I have seen too many BOR's that are being nothing more than a retest, which is not what they are supposed to be.


          • #6
            "Deal with him, don't try and compare him to anyone else. After all it is his best, his Oath.". Thanks Eamonn, that's a great comment.

            As for his ability to comprehend, I believe he does. He understands things are "right" or "wrong". He may not understand some specific words (like "Thrifty"), but he can understand the concept.

            Interesting comment about possibly having no business being a scout. I've seen boys with much more severe disabilities at summer camp.

            As for his specific disability, I haven't asked for what it is. I know it is both mental and physical. He has a very low IQ. But he doesn't appear to be "retarded" or have Downs.

            I had thought about being very selective with the BOR members. We'll have to see who we can come up with. Unfortunately, the best adults for it are SM/ASMs or his dad. But we'll come up with the best group we can.


            • #7
              There seems to be several items that need to be address;
              The scout has a learning disability, along with a physical disability,to the point that the school system address and clasified him.Yet his father wishes to mainstream him in scouting in the troop. The troop leadership, must decide how they are going to react to this scout needs and wellbeing.
              The question of recognizing him as a scout with special needs, so he can participate as a member of the unit. The benifits the scout will receive as special need scout and having alternate advancement requirements and to be qualified to register beyond the normal registration age.
              The other would be how the Advancement Committee and Board of Review shall view the scout which disabling conditions that would prohibit the scout from completing the said requirements if accommodations are not made ; or if accommodations made and/or alternate requirements arranged .

              First , it seems as there is a need for the parents to understand that having their son determined as a scout with special needs will only allow thier son to achive the maxium from the scouting program.That his permanent disabilities should not prevent him from being a participating member of a Scouting unit. I would provide the parents with the following information: "Scoutmaster's Guide to Working with Scouts with Disabilities"(#33056A) and "Scouting for Youth with Physical Disabilities"(#33057C) "Scouting for Youth with Learning Disabilities"(#33065A)"Advancement Committee Policies & Procedures" (#33088C) and the "Boy Scout Requirements" (Y2K) (#33215C/D). There is nothing stated that this can not be done at a later stage, but the better the sooner. The basic premise of Scouting for youth with disabilities is that they want most to participate like other youth, and scouting gives them that opportunity. When permanent disabliting conditions prohibits the Scout from completing the necessary requirements of a Rank or merit badge, accommodations should be made or alternate advancement requirements be arranged. To stresses the Scouts abilities rather than disabilities, through Scouting flexibilities and range of choice. To remove unreasonable and unnecessary barriers, through creative thinking and actions, which may impede a boy in achieving his personal goals, At the same time the plan will not lessen the relative challenges of scouting experience to achieve actual personal growth. That he is expected to do his best!The only limitations upon achievement of this should be the boy's individual desire, focus, and perseverance.What would the scout lose from the program without accommodations ?

              What is required , of the Troop ,the scouts, the adults, for this boy to attend activities as a normal scout. Will he require a parent to be with him at scouting activities, is there medications which requires special attention, can he read, speak at a level which would allow him to function,etc...What is require to keep the program safe for all, to allow all to take part in,etc... Without knowledge and a plan to address these items, it's looking for trouble.

              By having a Individual Scout Achievement Plan for the scout, which allows for the addendums to be amended, and that the safety of each scout is part of the consideration. Reguirements may be redefined to maintain the challenge but provide an alternative path towards achievement will give the Advancement committee and the Board of Review the guide lines need to be fair in their duties.

              First and formost have everyone understand the program It's a team effort.


              • #8
                As a guy who works with people with a range of disabilities every day, I can offer a few of my own insights and thoughts to be taken for what they are worth.

                Easily distracted? Minimize distractions at the BOR. A simple, calm room- maybe even lowered light. Soft music helps some, bothers others.

                I have found that most people will deal with other people's disabilitys perfectly well- with a bit of pre-teaching. Check with dad for specifics but before the BOR let the members know a little background. As mentioned, focus on what the Scout can do. Suggest that only one person do most of the talking to minimize distractions and confusion. Dad should know if there are any specific ways to deal with things like distaction or focus if needed.

                Ask the group to think about their questions- to ask them at an appropriate level, and to think about what they want to hear back with his typical responses in mind. With some of the guys I work with, a bright smile is about as good as it gets.

                To be quite honest, I'd have no problem letting dad or one of the experienced leaders in the BOR. If the Scout needs a 'buddy' there, or if the experienced person is just quietly in the background to help the BOR understand things afterwards would depend on the exact situation.

                I applaud you and your troops willingness to work with this situation. You will be rewarded for it!


                • #9
                  Thanks Seabear and Madkins. I appreciate the advice. I have a meeting with the dad this weekend regarding another subject, but will talk about this some more as well.

                  Good comments about having one person ask questions and keep them as simple as possible. I'll talk to the Advancement Chair regarding the possibility of including his dad or another adult. I think we'll hold off on this one and see how it goes.

                  BTW, the boy's dad is very involved - committee member and cubmaster. So far, he has been able to attend every campout. I think we could make it through a weekend without him, but I do not believe we could make it through summer camp.


                  • #10
                    An update... I spoke to the lad's dad about his condition. He didn't specifically name it, but it is a verbal communication disorder. His IQ is pretty close to normal, but he has difficulty focusing on what is being said and especially in saying what he wants to say.

                    His dad and I met with the BOR before it started. I encouraged them to use the techniques mentioned here - only one person asking the questions, use simple terms, etc. Dad did not stay in the room, but was available to come in if necessary. The room we use is pretty plain, so it free of any distractions. (Thanks Madkins for your advice).

                    Great news! He passed. The board was very pleased with his progress. My thanks again for the advice given here. It was great to see his big smile when he came out of the room. And, the other boys in the troop were equally excited for him. It made for a great night!


                    • #11


                      • #12
                        Good news, thanks for the update.


                        • #13
                          As a spouse of a Learning Disabilities teacher for 18 years, can I offer some comments.

                          First, being labeled LD means the child is of at least average intellegence. Otherwise they would be labeled Mentally Retarded (MR).

                          Second, the father states that he has processing problems with verbal communication. Perhaps you can communicate in writing. Even in a BOR this can be done.

                          Third, try talking to the childs Special Ed teacher for tips dealing directly with his needs. You may need the father's assistance to facilitate this due to privacy issues.

                          Fourth, You mention the child's short attention span. It is common for LD kids to have some form of Attention Defecit Disorder. Patience is the key here. You already are addressing the distraction issues.

                          As far as the physical disabilities, I can not offer anything.

                          An LD child can be successful in Scouts. We just have to know how to present it to him in different ways, but this does not mean simplifying it.