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Anyone experienced with Down Syndrome scouts?

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  • Anyone experienced with Down Syndrome scouts?

    I have a potential new scout coming to our meeting tonight, who has Down syndrome. I admit to being fully ignorant of the condition, other than what I've managed to Google on...

    I, of course, will make every attempt to simply blend him into the troop, but if there are any of you with advice or words of wisdom, it would be much appreciated.

    The father has told me the boy is active and motivated in Scouts, and that he, himself is a very active participating parent.

    Thanks all.







  • #2
    CA,

    Congratulations! You have the opportunity now to experience some fantastic things about people and the Scouting Program.

    "Mike" joined our Troop right along with his Den buddies when he was 12. His arrival caused quite a bit of consternation among our leaders too, as we knew almost nothing about the affliction, and even less about how to deal with a Down Syndrome boy.

    "Mike" was unbelievably enthusiatic about Scouting, although his parents were quick to advise us about the parts of the program they felt were too difficult for him to handle. But "Mike" (along with his dad) went to most of our campouts. He earned First Class with absolutely no slack being given to him (although we were very quick to add the instruction for him that his only responsiblility when first aid was needed was to get help). He went to 3 summer camps on his 6 years with the Troop, and earned Swimming, Indian Lore, Basketry, and I think Leatherwork MBs, again, with no accomodation to make it easier for him.

    One of my favorite memories in Scouting is the time at his second summer camp when his dad wandered over to find out if he was doing OK with the other guys at their own camp fire, and the dad found "Mike" hamming it up as a part of a skit they were doing, and he turned to his dad and said "Dad, you can leave me alone! I'm having fun!" It was the first time his mom or dad had ever felt as though "Mike" could handle himself. Dad was crying when he got back to the adults area of the camp.

    "Mike" was (and still is - he still comes to our meetings, at 19) a source of pride for the boys in our Troop. It's unfortunate, but I guess expected, that new boys coming into the Troop would see "Mike" and find an easy target to pick on. The first time it happened, it lasted for like 8 seconds. If any of the older boys heard it, they would put a stop to it immediately. "Mike" was their buddy, and no one was going to make "Mike" feel bad. At least twice I saw an older Scout ask the Troop Guide responsible for the New Scout Patrol if he could have some time to talk to the new Scouts after an incident like this. He would introduce "Mike" to the new guys, explain that "Mike" was an important part of our Troop, and that if they wanted to be a part of our Troop, that "Mike" was going to be a friend to them, too. Once the new guys got to know "Mike" this was never an issue again until the next group of new guys came in.

    I'm telling the truth when I say that I am convinced that no one in our Troop enjoyed his Scouting adventure more than "Mike" did. And we enjoyed having him in the Troop. When my son graduated from high school, we invited everyone in the Troop to the party. I'd say about half the families came. When "Mike" graduated, every family but one who was on vacation went to the party.

    I guess there's not much hard advice for you here, but I hope you get my point. It's understandable that you might be apprehensive about the unknown. But if our experience represents the norm, six or seven years from now, you and your Scouts will be very appreciative of the opportunity you got by sharing Scouting with this young man. I know I am.

    Mark

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    • #3
      We have a young man with Asperger's Disorder, a form of autism, in our troop. Big scout, physically. He has plenty of issues that our troop handles quite well in my opinion. Positions of responsibility are some of the biggest problems as he gets frustrated and mildly violent trying to lead other scouts. Otherwise, the troop works well with him, giving him tasks that interest him and know he can do well. He just achieved Life rank and will soon become an Eagle scout I'm sure.
      My limited experience with Downs Syndrome kids is that they are passive and well behaved. You should have few of the issues other disorders can bring.

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