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  • Scouts with Receptive/Expressive Disorder

    The topic about ODD scouts was very helpful. I would like to gather information on how to help a 14-year old scout with receptive/expressive disorder advance. This is a language disorder in which the young person is unable to understand much of what he is told and then of course, unable to organize and express his thoughts later. In our particular situation, the parent IS very involved and attends all meetings, all campouts and all events with him. He only meets merit badge requirements when she "facilitates" him. It would appear that she is actually doing the work for him, but she does show documentation, site maps, worksheets, etc. where he has struggled through. However, in a board of review, he cannot answer any questions, or maybe will not. He clams up even when he has thoroughly researched the subject in question and has the paperwork in front of him. He seems to not want to be a part of scouting at all. He does not participate in meetings (but the disorder is probably a part of that), he does not willingly do any chores on campouts and frequently wanders away. However, the members of the committee have witnessed him talking long and informatively about a subject that he is passionately interested in -- motocross. His mother has become rather aggressive with the committee. She wants him to make Eagle, she wants him to be given a position (rather than elected) so that he can advance in rank, she wants special accomodations made so that all these things can happen. On campouts, she has been witnessed doing his chores, preparing special food for him, and nagging him so much he has become violent with her (only her, no other leader and no other scout). The other scouts have begun to make his life miserable as a "mama's boy". She wishes to sit in on Board of Reviews (not allowed -- I know), or at least outside an open door so that she can hear. Since she has asked for accomodations from the committee, I feel we successfully require her to acquiese to scout rules (i.e., she can't sit in on a Board of Review). However, in our last committee meeting, it seemed very clear that she would consider it the committee's fault if the boy did not advance all the way to Eagle.

    The committee members all have the distinct impression that the boy would not be in scouting if his mother were not forcing him.

    If you have experienced this disorder in your troop, I would appreciate your thoughts.

  • #2
    Sounds like you have a reason to read the BSA publication #33065A "Scouting for Youth with Learning Disabilities" and then present your findings to the Committee. Alternative requirements may be submitted for Council approval. If the parents are willingly to work with you, you could be providing the best experience of this young man's life.

    Next, as far as the scouts teasing the boy. That has got to stop. Teasing, for whatever reason, is as unscoutlike as anyhting I can think of.

    Next time they tease him, ask them if they would tease a scout who is blind, a scout who needs to use a walker, or a scout who is deaf. His fellow scouts could learn as much from the scout, as hopefully the scout will learn from his brother scouts.


    • #3
      "The committee members all have the distinct impression that the boy would not be in scouting if his mother were not forcing him. "

      If every scout that met this description at one time or another were removed from scouts, we'd have some pretty small units. The fact is, there will always be scouts who have parents that "force" them to stay. In this case, the mom probably realizes that scouting is the best thing in the world for him to boost self confidence, learn new skills and make friends.

      I don't know anything about this disorder, but scouting is flexible enough to meet the needs of any young man. Check into the Scouting for Youth with Disabilities handouts. Do some searching on the web. You'll find lots of good information. Then go back to the committee and educate them.

      It may be possible to get mom to back down, once you understand the condition more. Perhaps another scouter can pick up the role so it doesn't seem so much of "mom doing the work". Or, maybe some older scouts can help him along the way as well. This could be a great life-lesson for them.

      As for the teasing, that has got to stop. Start with your PLC and filter the message out to the troop. I remember as a scout having a stern lecture from the SM (my dad) about picking on an undersized scout. He yanked all of the older guys to the side and laid down the law. We set the example, and before long, others followed.

      Best of luck. You're doing a great thing.


      • #4
        Hi Venice,

        Old Grey Eagle has the right idea. Use the resources that BSA already has in place to help this Scout. In addition to the resource he cites (which is excellent!)there are other resources you may want to investigate. One is the web site Working With Scouts With Disabilities at They may have some additional resources and people available through that site with more information to help this Scout. I am not familiar with this receptive/expressive order.

        I attended the session at Philmont on Scouting for boys with disabilities a number of years ago. One of the pieces of information I vividly remember is the importance of keeping a record or medical history of the Scout to document any accommodations that might be made in his advancement requirements. Don't wait till he is ready for his Eagle board of review to start the documentation. Start the documentation now.

        Also, Old Grey Eagle and EagleInKy are both right on target with the issue of teasing the Scout. That needs to stop immediately!

        I would also suggest that your unit turn to your commissioner staff for support. This sounds like a difficult situation that could use the support from your unit or district commissioner.

        Yours Truly in Scouting,
        Rick Pushies


        • #5
          Totally agree about teasing. I've had many a disagreement with my husband about the difference between "teasing" and "just fooling around". Boys sure seem to be able to act nasty towards each other during the middle school years. However, this is more about the other scouts avoiding him (that's what I meant about making him miserable) -- they're really avoiding his mom, I suppose. Her singleminded devotion is rather uncomfortable to watch. And no one in the troop wants to get in the middle of their battles. We may have to give him a position because the other scouts don't think about electing him to anything. This isn't a learning disability you can see. The boy can communicate when he is engaged and interested. He plays games and talks to the other scouts, but won't fold his tent or eat the food they prepare.

          I will get that scouting publication -- we have more than one LD scout in our troop, so it will be a valuable tool. (My involvement in this troop is I just brought my 7 Webelos on board. I've known most of them since first grade and they're "my boys". One's LD, one's ADD, one's incredibly shy, one's brilliant, but they're all fun.)

          I have sinced learned the troop has an older scout with the same receptive/expressive disorder. His needs don't seem to be as acute although he has reached a plateau at first class. But he willingly does chores and participates in activities, not much of a talker, but not surly either. Of course, the older scout's attitude has affected our committee's expectations of the younger scout, who has never in the past three years shown any of that ol' elusive "scout spirit".

          The mother has been asked to make a list of the accomodations she would like us to make for her son and I assure you we will do all of them that are humanly possible. She intends for him to attain Eagle. It's hard to tell if he shares her dreams for him.


          • #6
            I deal with students with disabilities on a daily basis. I suggest that the first approach be two-fold. Have one adult that makes it a point to establish a friendly relationship with this young man. How? Talk to him about things he likes. Get to know him a little over a longer period. Getting to know any person takes time, so it will be the same with him. Next, ask Mom (and him) if you may have permission to read through his school's Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). Ask if there are any records that indicate his diagnosis and any functional limitations. This documents the disability and any general problems you should be aware of and the IEP will give you standard modifications that are used in school to allow him to learn (academics). This two-fold approach will give you insight in how he can learn best in the unit.

            As for Mom, she is not to cook his food, chop his wood, set up his tent, or any other activity that he can do for himself. He and the other Scouts will resent it and will act accordingly. It will also undermine his goal of reaching Eagle, it is his goal, isn't it? Most likely he has not been asked. If he does not know how to do an activity, then he will need demonstration. Since many things in Scouting are hands-on, then it fits his disorder nicely. It also fits as leadership activity for any other Scout to show him. Safety is first, so he needs to show that he knows how before he is left to do it on his own.

            The IEP will have a list of modifications. These are important because they have been accepted by a group of professionals and Mom and the Scout as the best way(s) for him to learn. You will find that Mom is not a modification and what she is trying to do is fill the role of a modification. Modifications allow a person to "get around" things that the person cannot do on his own for what ever reason. He may need to express himself by using a computer. He may need extra time to say what he needs to say or a quiet room where he is not pressed. Sitting before three adults is overpowering and may be too stressful and that is where the friendly relationship comes in to play. It is also the role Mom is trying to do but will only make a mess of it. If he has another person that he trusts, then he may be able to open up during a review. He may need to demonstrate what he has learned. These are only a few ideas that may help.

            There is a possibility that his disability is not what she said that it is. It is her and his right to withhold that information but then the Troop does not need to modify either if the Troop (*) does not know what they are trying to modify for to assist him. Mom most likely does not trust that her son will be treated fairly, as her present actions indicate. Patience is a virtue and in the case where trust is an issue, then it is even more so.

            *A very limited and select number of people need to know about his disability and records and what you are doing. This is very important. Any leader working with him needs to be cued as to the least amount of information necessary to get the point across for him to learn.

            "Few are ready to accept that they are different even when it is quite noticeable that they are very strange indeed."

            FB(This message has been edited by Fuzzy Bear)


            • #7
              Fuzzy Bear,

              You are way cool in your advice on this topic. I want to be like you when I grow up!

              Rick Pushies


              • #8
                Nice answer FuzzyBear. I am a one-on-para and committee member. The boy I work with has behavior "issues" and trouble learning. I know at his first BOR, they were surprised at how well he did, especially remembering things. Being with him all day at school, when I do go on the campouts he attends or even at meetings, the guys are good about not having me deal with problems. It took a little while though, for him to understand that he is a scout everywhere he goes, school, church etc.-he thought he only had to behave like one at Scouts, (though I did find out mom "tweaks" his meds. before meetings.) Many of his behaviors were why his Webelo Den was down to just 3 boys when they crossed. But it's just him & mom, very rarely dad, so both the Pack & Troop have tried very hard to keep him 'cuz he's one of those that really need the program.


                • #9
                  Time to tell mom to back off. She needs to stay home and not go on campouts or meetings. I would not make any accomindations until I saw the IEP.


                  • #10
                    We have two boys in our troop that are Apserger Autistics. One is undergoing treatment the others mother refused to see he has a problem. The one under treatment is doing great. Yes we have to work with him more. Many times I have sat down with him and held his hands in mine and made him look me strainght in the face. The other boy is harder because of the lack of medication. I feel sorry for both of them but the one not treated more. If either lose focus on an outing we will try to target them back to what they were doing. It works. You just have to make that speical extra effort.

                    We have to agree with FB, mom does not need to be doing everything FOR him. He needs to be taught to be as independant at possible. For his own good and well being.

                    Working with special needs kids can be a real challenge but it has it own rewards.


                    • #11
                      "He plays games and talks to the other scouts, but won't fold his tent or eat the food they prepare."

                      Is this related to his language disorder? He'd do better with the other boys if he would fold his tent and eat.


                      • #12
                        This is just a helpful note for those working with Asperger youth. Very often looking into someone's face or eyes is very, very uncomfortable and painful. However, most can look in the general area of one's face. When asking one of my Asperger charges to focus on our conversation, I ask them to look around my face, so I know they are listening. I also explain that most folks expect them to look in the general area of their face and eyes when speaking to them. Those with aspergers often have very strong and painful sensory input from trying to focus on faces.

                        Just sharing.


                        • #13
                          As the mother of an Asperger's daughter, I had the same reaction to the comment about making the boy look you in the of the classic symptoms of Asperger's is that it is difficult if not impossible for some of them to make eye contact and we should not force them to do this. If the boy can talk intelligently and answer questions without making visual contact with you, then don't try to force the issue. Make him comfortable in opening up. One of the other issues with Asperger kids is their narrow range of focused "obsessions"...if your scout happens to have one that is related to scouting (such as knots or perhaps plants, etc) take advantage of that within your troop. He will be a great teacher for the younger scouts and it will help build his self confidence.

                          sue m


                          • #14
                            About Receptive/Expressive disorder and Fuzzy Bear's advice ..
                            "If he has another person that he trusts, then he may be able to open up during a review." -- and "Mom most likely does not trust that her son will be treated fairly, as her present actions indicate. Patience is a virtue and in the case where trust is an issue, then it is even more so."

                            This is really important to keep in mind.

                            Before my son was diagnosed with having a LD, I had a blow-out fight with his 1st grade teacher and the principal for the way he was being treated at school - and normally I am a very patient, good humored person and I do not get angry easily.

                            My son suffered a tremendous blow to his self-esteem and confidence as a result of the incorrect handling he received in the 1st grade from this teacher, to the point where he refused to go back to school. It was only after I VERY clearly made the point of my son's LD that the school finally sat up and took notice and did something about the situation.

                            Things are much better now and he is finally getting the help he needs at school - but this didn't happen until I really had steam and flames blowing out of every orifice! And that is not an exageration.

                            I am sharing this because I can understand where this over-protective Mom is coming from, and I want to emphasize how important it is to try to learn to understand this child's disorder and to garner the trust of both the boy and his mother.

                            They may have had similar difficulties at school etc. and so the Mom may feel the need to be 'on top' of things to make sure her son is treated fairly. However, it does sound as though she may need some help understanding how to properly help her son, she does sound a little overprotective.

                            And I would like to add -- having a learning disability can affect a child's physical motor-skills too - making them more clumsy and not as able to participate very successfully in sports and activities that require good co-ordination. It is helpful to help these kids with exercises that will enable them to practice learning co-ordination and motorskills. In this instance, FS Scouter, the answer to your question ..

                            "He plays games and talks to the other scouts, but won't fold his tent or eat the food they prepare."

                            Is this related to his language disorder?"

                            Yes, it can be related to his disorder, but it could also be Mom's fault at being too overprotective and not allowing him to learn how to do these things by himself (it may take him a little longer than the other boys, but there is nothing that should prevent him from being able to learn how to do these things).


                            • #15
                              Sorry it took me this long to get back to this thread. But I guess I said it wrong. I don't really make them look in my eyes. But I do try to make them focus on me. It seems to work. The boy on treatment is doing so good. He just make Star.
                              We are so proud on him. He received his rank at our COH when a FOS rep was there. When he was presented his rank patch everyone in the room stood up and cheered. Boys and parents. Of course we cheer every boy at COH. The rep told me later that he hadn't been to a COH in a troop where there was so much parent enthusiam. But our troop has always been that way. The boy who isn't being treated isn't doing as well. He has been in the troop almost 5 years and still isn't First Class. He simply can't focus enough to do the work. We can't even try to get alternative requirements for him because his mother refuses to see anything is wrong. The saddest thing is that she is a teacher.