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  • Asperger Syndrome Scouts

    I'm spinning this off - I think that Aspergers deserves its own thread.

    I was looking at the last couple of posts, and a lot of this rings true. My younger brother had been diagnosed with Aspergers, and I seem to have a lot of the same "qualities" found in those with Aspergers, but have never actually gotten diagnosed, because we didnt realize what my problem was until my Senior Year of high school, when by brother was diagnosed in his learning differences private school.

    Im now 21, my brother is 16. Im an at-large of the district committee, and am likely to become an ASM in the troop my brother is currently in, in the near future.

    My brother has many issues some of the more notable is that he has some sensory problems for example, he has to wash and store his socks by pairs, because if they wear unevenly, it feels wrong. He also has a lot of problems with the uniform, but it isnt really clear to either me or his scoutmaster that the uniform issue is really Aspergers, or just him rebelling. Ive heard my brother say that scouts is stupid and that he doesnt want to be a scout anymore. He is currently Star rank.

    Oh, and my brother has recently decided that he doesnt want to cut his hair ever. Some of the scouts are getting annoyed with him, because he refuses to wear full Class A (like the rest of the troop), and likes to let his hair cover his eyes Im not sure if this is him not wanting to make eye contact or not.

    My father (an ASM) seems convinced that my brothers problem is all Aspergers, and not at all rebellion. Ive seen my brother enjoy scouting, especially when he is teaching scouts things like first aid. But he HATES going to meetings, and Im starting to feel that my dad is dragging him through, and trying to get him to Eagle (which neither my father nor I did in our youth time).

    My brother is a troop instructor, because he seems to like teaching skills, especially First Aid and Pioneering, to scouts (when he isnt saying scouting is stupid or I dont want to be a scout).

    Right now, they are in a standoff with the SM, over my brother calling the SM some unscoutlike things at the camporee last month. The SM wont let him back into the troop without an apology, and my father is saying that the SM brought it on herself by trying to hold my brother to the troops uniform standard when ALL members of the troop were on Camporee staff (small, single patrol troop).

    So any suggestions, either on how to integrate my brother back into the troop, or how to get my father to accept my brother saying he doesnt want to be in scouts???

    Also, Id love to see some more discussion on Aspergers specific scout issues, as it seems several folks here are experts at this.


    YIS

    Jon


  • #2
    The medical issue notwithstanding, the immediate problem seems to be a conflict between the father and the SM about whether an apology is deserved. Not having been there and lacking other details, I would say that, yes, this 'unscoutlike' behavior deserves an apology.

    I also think that you may be correct in that some of your brother's behavior may simply be teen-age rebellion. From what I know of Aspergers, many of those with this syndrome are pretty darn intelligent; your brother may have figured out a way to 'game the system' (and especially your father) by having any of his 'non-acceptable' behaviors blamed on the medical condition - which is beyond his control.

    That said, Aspergers is probably more common than many people realize. We've had two scouts in our unit recently who have been diagnosed. One struggled for several years to achieve 1st Class and then quit, the other is now Life rank and is planning his project. I think Scouting helped both boys tremendously in learning to interact with their peers in social situations.

    Comment


    • #3
      My son, currently a Webelos 2, has Aspergers Syndrome (AS). He was diagnosed in 1st grade, though we knew things were different much earlier than that. Yes, and yes, he has many sensory issues. He hates uncontrolled motion (rides), touching wet stuff (though he loves to swim), loud noises, 3D movies, .... Somewhere I read that if we picture all of our senses turned up 3 or 4 times normal then we might have some idea what AS is like.

      Yes, he is VERY intellegent. He can repeat lines from entire movies. When he was young we thought he could read very early, but it turned out he was just memorizing the words from entire books.

      He is what I would characterize as a "nice" boy (not mean or agressive) but he tends to be irritating to others since he doesn't know when he is bothering them and he gets very frustrated and has melt-downs when things don't go right (typcical AS).

      Your father needs to take some control over the hair-cutting issue and find out exactly why he doesn't want his hair cut. My son finds hair cuts extremely uncomfortable, though he has always tolerated them (but when younger he would cry up a storm). He wants hair cuts to go as fast as possible and doesn't like electric clippers (sound and vibration).

      Can you be more specific about what he doesn't like about the uniform? My guess is that it doesn't feel right to him and he just wants to wear something that feels comfortable. Have you asked him? Can you blame him? My son much prefers the softer feel of kakhi (sp?) pants over blue jeans. He much prefers t-shirts over dress shirts. He likes hoods - I think he likes his head covered.

      AS is a tough thing for kids since other people can't see it, and we for the most part can't understand the reasons for behaviors. I've often said that my son might be better off if he were blind - at least people would understand his issue and could deal with it. AS is just too subtle.

      Have you, or your father, asked why he hates Scouting? Does he feel he has friends in the Troop? Everything I've read says that Boy Scouts is just about the best thing available for AS kids, BUT the entire troop has to be aware of the boy's AS, they have to know what it is and how to help the AS boy when needed.

      You father might suggest to the SM that she swallow her pride and take some time to learn about AS and to deal with it like a trained adult Scout Leader.

      At the same time, your brother needs to know in no uncertain terms that foul language and bad behavior will not be tolerated, and he should be punished by his father as appropriate for a 16 year old with AS - maybe lose privileges or computer/TV time. He should indeed be made to apologize to those offended and take his punishment.

      I have another boy in my Webelos 2 den whose father has told me that his son is suspected of having AS (I know he does, but it is not my place to diagnose). This boy is very poorly behaved and quite aggressive to others, but his parents do almost nothing to correct him. It is ashame. This boy will not be well recieved as he gets older. He has told me that his is not going on to Boy Scouts.

      Comment


      • #4
        Jon,

        Could it be that your brother is saying that he doesn't like scouts because it puts him in a highly social situation that he can't deal with? My daughter just about freaks out if she is in a crowd, but that is partially because she was continually harrassed while she was in school. If we go to church and she gets sandwiched inbetween people she'll panic!

        Another thing that bothers many Asperger's kids are sounds...they are hypersensitive to them and will often hear things that other people don't notice in the background noise of life. With my daughter, she could pick up the sound of someone cracking their knuckles across a noisy crowded room and things like someone tapping a pencil on the desk will make her go balistic! Could the issue with your brother and haircuts be that he can't tolerate the sound of the sissors cutting his hair???


        I agree with what Kenk said about it being so difficult to try and explain the behaviors of these kids to other adults(and kids too!!). I've had people tell me that it's just used as "an excuse" for being rude, etc. and I totally commend you for not only trying to help your brother cope, but for being a real friend to him! AS's can be very trying to live with for sure..but they really do need people who they can trust.

        Sue M.

        (This message has been edited by SueM)

        Comment


        • #5
          I'd also like to chime in on "rude" vs "symptom"
          My 13 yo son has AS, and as dedicated as I am to making allowances for his disabilities, there are times that I am CERTAIN that he's playing me....until he melts down & out pops the "real" issue behind the behavior. He has always proven me wrong when I believe he's pushing my buttons. Since I wasn't in on the original thread, I don't know what the behaviors are, to help find an explanation, but I've become pretty good at finding the keys.
          What I've found with my son is that he understands when a certain behavior is rude (at least he does once I've explained the "normal" viewpoints) and is eager to set things right. But, rather than expect him to appologize & that be the end of things, I will help him dialog with the other person to see why he reacted the way he did, and expect that the other person will also admit a mistake & offer an appology.
          For example, there was an incident a few weeks back at a meeting, where he grabbed a paper that the patrol leader was using to record dues on, wadded it up & stuffed it in his mouth....this on the surface seems completely uncalled for, and all his fault, until you find out that one of the other scouts got annoyed by his chewing on a straw, & took it & threw it away. My son has a very stron oral fixation & when it got to be too much, he grabbed the closest thing at hand, a piece of paper.
          I have another post in the Scouts with Disabilities list about "invisible disabilities" you might want to check out.

          Comment


          • #6
            I'd also like to chime in on "rude" vs "symptom"
            My 13 yo son has AS, and as dedicated as I am to making allowances for his disabilities, there are times that I am CERTAIN that he's playing me....until he melts down & out pops the "real" issue behind the behavior. He has always proven me wrong when I believe he's pushing my buttons. Since I wasn't in on the original thread, I don't know what the behaviors are, to help find an explanation, but I've become pretty good at finding the keys.
            What I've found with my son is that he understands when a certain behavior is rude (at least he does once I've explained the "normal" viewpoints) and is eager to set things right. But, rather than expect him to appologize & that be the end of things, I will help him dialog with the other person to see why he reacted the way he did, and expect that the other person will also admit a mistake & offer an appology.
            For example, there was an incident a few weeks back at a meeting, where he grabbed a paper that the patrol leader was using to record dues on, wadded it up & stuffed it in his mouth....this on the surface seems completely uncalled for, and all his fault, until you find out that one of the other scouts got annoyed by his chewing on a straw, & took it & threw it away. My son has a very stron oral fixation & when it got to be too much, he grabbed the closest thing at hand, a piece of paper.
            I have another post in the Scouts with Disabilities list about "invisible disabilities" you might want to check out.

            Comment

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