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  • Disabled Tiger

    We have a boy entering our Pack as a Tiger (severe Dwarfism). His disablity limits use of his legs & hearing. His cognitive abilities, behavior & attention are generally outstanding.

    His brother is a Bear & his mother a Bear Den Leader (staying with Bear den). The Tiger den will obviously be new with new leadership.

    Speaking with his mother after Scout Camp (many of our boys attended), our new Tiger was getting down about Scouting after comparing his own physical performance to those of his colleagues. He failed to finish many field events & was disgusted by his inability to keep up at all. In particular was any effort to use the archery equipment. It was too large for his frame & the pull too great.

    I know there was encouragement offered on behalf his "other strengths" but a boy down in the field isn't likely to consider his reading & math skills a very high priority.

    The Tiger Scouting program shouldn't be rewritten for one boy. But I would like to help the new Den Leader explore areas where timed & coordination related physical activities don't require great stamina or lower body coordination. An undersized archery set might be built to accomadate his frame at such time as is appropriate for example.

    If anyone has any ideas or resources to share we would very much appreciate it.


  • #2
    Your local hospital that serves disabled youth should be able to help- both with ideas and possibly even with equipment.

    Part of the issue, however, is the child's own attitude. An understanding of our own real limitations and abilities is important- even if only so we can overcome them!

    There is a lot of social reistance/inertia to making a lot of changes- who pays, who will be responsible for making, how can we accomodate all the different needs (sensory, cognative, behavioral, etc. all have different ramifications), how do you keep it fair...

    Another option that does not fit OUR needs but might fit HIS are the camps designed for children with special needs, like Easter Seals runs. There, EVERY event is designed around the child's special needs and the staff is well trained.


    • #3
      The Purposes of Cub Scouting; why not rewrite the program where alternative achievements will allow him to still be involved.
      Remember that there are no performance requirements for a boy. Simply participating and doing one's best in an activity constitutes completion. Most of the Tiger Cub achievements do not require stamina or coordination. There are trip or vists to the police dept. ,fire dept. etc... a call beforehand making sure that the site is accessible for him., that the program offer will allow him to be apart of same. Most will bend over to help out.
      In archery, how about a crossbow, or air arrow, or as you stated a smaller bow, Planning ahead is going to be the den leader hardist job. It seems as you are ahead of the game in that the Mother is involve in the pack and is willing to help out, thus she will be one of your greatest resources, along with his doctors and other parties involve with him (school), There are groups that offer support for dwarfism( here again ask parents,doctors,etc...) Check out the websites. Contact the Special Olympics in your area. The Council and the District should be able to help a great deal, ( Cub Scout Day Camp,etc...)Making sure that opportunities and avenues are within reach, to remove unreasonable and unnecessary barriers
      through creative thinking and actions( through Scouting flexibilities and range of choice). Good Planning both at den and pack level is needed


      • #4
        There is nothing in the Tiger program that should be to difficult for him to handle physically. Also, Tigers are in Partner Teams, one of his parents will be doing everything with him for this year. That should give the new Den Leader a good chance to get to know & work with the family. Because of his disabilities, one of his parents might want, or have, to stay with him for his Wolf and/or Bear year too.

        Together, the family & Den Leader, should be able to work out solutions to any problems that come up.


        • #5
          Dear ConnCM,

          My youngest son was born with multiple congenital heart defects (mostly repaired) and was a Tiger last year - so, I've got a pretty good idea of the situation.

          There definitely are things in the Tiger program that are physically challenging to even a mildly disabled child. Also, Tiger-age is exactly where these kids are self-aware enough to compare their capabilities to their non-disabled peers.

          Being creative with alternatives is a fantastic idea - like the crossbow idea for archery. Absolutely involve the parents in coming up with ideas, too. First off, they have the best handle on what their son's limitations really are. Having one of the parents along, at any level should be OK with everybody, too. Secondly, the parents probably belong to a support group or take their son to physical therapy - both can provide the parents with tons of alternatives to share with their son's DL.
          The DL shouldn't have to research & invent a special needs program on his/her own.

          There are specialized camps for kids with various disablities/disorders, and they are wonderful (my son goes to 2). However, giving these kids a chance to participate to the best of their ability in a program with "normal" kids is what most of us "special" parents pray for every night. Both as a "special" parent and a Cubmaster, I applaud any efforts to make scouting available to all boys.

          Good Luck & God Bless!!!


          • #6
            Dear Steve,

            What a special challenge you have asked for help with. I have a few resource ideas for your young Tiger Cub friend and his supporters to investigate. I also have a little story I want you to share with your new Tiger Cub friend.

            First is the LPA (Little People of America) their web site can be found at: If there is anyone one group of people that knows how to deal with the challenges society places on dwarfs, it is LPA. They are a great group of people!

            Another great resource more specific to Scouting is the Working With Scouts With disabilities (WWSWd) web site at: This is a good place to get help with advancement issues. There are ways to make thing more workable for your friend.

            My very best friend since the eighth grade is a dwarf. I understand the frustrations of dwarves in a way many 6'4" big men do not. So share this little story with your Tiger Cub friend. Many years ago, my wife and I went to visit our good friends Leonard and Lynnette Sawisch in Lansing, Michigan. Since both of them are short stature they decided to make some changes to their house to make life easier. They raised the floor in certain parts of the house so Lynnette could do things with less frustration and assistance. Not a bad idea, right. Well then came time for me to visit the restroom. The restroom where the floor had been raised to the point that the toilet seat was only about nine inches off the floor. Now this particular visit to the restroom required that I sit for a length of time. Sit, in a very uncomfortable position with my knees almost in my ears. They tide had turned! Now whose body was out of proportion to the physical world around them, ME! My 6'4" frame did not fit well into a world designed for someone 3'9". Leonard did some stand-up comedy for a while in which this episode is included. Actually it was pretty funny, I'm just glad no pictures were taken!

            TIGER CUBS ROCK!

            Yours Truly in Scouting,
            Rick Pushies


            • #7
              Wow.....what a terrific set of resources you all are. I am in awe.

              I suppose it was the very physical nature of the summer camp field events that coincided with his coming more aware of his disability that made him want to rethink Scouting. Timing had so much to do with his experience.

              Like everyone this time of year we will be meeting in committees (Popcorn, recruitment, School nights, etc) but I will make the time to meet with all concerned leaders & discuss some of these ideas.

              When the time is right, I will share the "little house" story & also intend to find out something of James E. West who was not only the Chief Scout Executive of the BSA but also physically handicapped. I won't dwell on the subject, but rather watch for a sign that he might appreciate hearing these things.

              For the record, his condition is expected to improve some once a hip operation is performed to improve his gait & stance. With physical improvements he is likely to feel better about himself too. Scouting should only help him relaize this if we can craft a positive experience for him.

              Thanks you all.