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Joe MacDoaks

Special Needs Scout

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I recently got a new scout that is a special needs kid. Most of my older Scouts know him and get along with him ok. I can tell from working with him that he is going to have problems completing many of the requirements in the scout book. We spent about 30 minutes trying to tie a square knot. His mother tells me he can't tie his shoes and he can't swim. I don't think I will ever have to worry about him becoming an Eagle but, I would like him to advance as far as he can. What advice do any of you have for advancing this kid. I have never let a requirement slide for another kid. He either knew the requirement or he didn't. I don't think this is practicle for this kid. What leeway do I have for saying this kid has met the requirement to the best of his ability?

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Not much. As we say on this forum a lot, we can neither add nor subtract from the requirements. Only Council can approve alternate requirements for handicapped or special needs scouts. Don't sell this scout short...it may take him a little longer, but if he eventually learns to tie knots or pass the swimmers test, the rewards will be great for all concerned.

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Joe,

 

In addition to OGE's advice, there should be a Special Needs subject matter expert someplace in your Council. It's worth a phone call and a cup of coffee to see what resources are available to assist.

 

For the alternate advancement procedures in ACP&P to kick in, there needs to be a full and accurate diagnosis/prognosis.

 

Leveraging all available resources will not only be a help to you, it may help the parents as well.

 

Finally, don't consign the young man; I've seen some very special young men earn Eagle.

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Why does this boy have to advance? Why can't he just try to tie knots when the other boys tie theirs. Why can't he play in the shallow end of the pool with a lifejacket on? Why can't he still go on a hike when the other boys are going to get hiking merit badge. Why can't he tie up a bandage when the other boys do First Aid?

 

What I'm hearing is a lot of adults wanting/needing this boy to advance to be successful. Maybe him just having fun with his friends is enough. He gets to wear the uniform, he gets to eat with the boys, he gets to participate as he is able in any and all activities.

 

And by the way, when he does learn to tie his shoes, check it out, it may in fact be a double-slip square knot he has tied. Double-slip or not, it's still a square knot. That gets him the Scouter rank and you're on your way.

 

Be patient, this kid will lead adults into a whole new world of understanding if they will only follow.

 

Stosh

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jblake has a good point, eh?

 

Rather than tryin' to shoehorn the lad into the advancement program, let him come out and have fun. And then along the way think of special recognitions for him that seem appropriate and in line with his unique gifts - perhaps recognitions generated by the boys themselves.

 

Now yeh might find along the way that there are opportunities that present themselves where advancement starts makin' sense - whether it's BSA advancement with modified requirements or some other in-troop "advancement" that yeh get creative and work out just for him.

 

Just let the impetus come from the boy's needs and desires and abilities.

 

There's also a BSA publication on Scouting for kids with Special Needs which can be helpful in an outline sort of way.

 

B

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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The question that initiated this thread was:

 

"What leeway do I have for saying this kid has met the requirement to the best of his ability?"

 

I see the responses given as the advice that was solicited.

 

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We have a couple of fellows with Downs Syndrome in our troop. When they joined I was SM and I met with the Council special needs coordinator. I, too, wanted to know how much "leeway" I had in implementing the advancement method for these fellows. I was handed the BSA publication mentioned by OGE and was also told - paraphrasing - "as much leeway as you want." For rank advancements through Life, signing is at the discretion of the Scoutmaster. The key is to remember that advancement is a method to achieve the goals of Scouting, and is not an objective in and of itself.

 

(edited typo)(This message has been edited by trevorum)

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DON'T UNDERESTIMATE what this scout will be able to do.

 

I had a first year Webelos, special needs (autistic) boy. His mom put him is scouts to help him become more independent. When he started, he did not look anyone in the eye, never spoke except when directly asked a question, participated some but frequently was kind of in his own world. He could not read or write beyond a first grade level, so I made sure he didn't need to. 17 months later, he legitimately earned his Arrow of Light. His parents were amazed at what he was able to do. He crossed over into boy scouts. Sunday afternoon of his first boy scout campout, he came home and asked his mom if he could show his younger brothers how to build a fire and cook over it. She let him, and for maybe the first time, he got to be the big brother, teaching his younger brothers (who already could do more than he could academically). He cooked eggs, and told his mom he did a better job than the other boy in his patrol who got ashes in them. Fast forward 6 years. The troop has done the paperwork with Council for alternative requirements - he still can't really read or write. He is a Star Scout, working on his Eagle project collecting books and materials to send to the troops in Iraq. He stands up straighter, looks people (even strangers) in the eye when he speaks to them or shakes their hand, initiates conversations, sees what needs to be done (like setting up chairs before a meeting) and does it. He's been to Philmont. I have 2 Eagle Scout sons (and a 3rd working on it), but I will be prouder when this scout earns his Eagle then when my own boys did.

 

Give your scout the opportunity to grow and advance. You may be amazed.

 

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Bob White hit the nail on the head. He "gets" to advance, what gives you or anyone the right to hold him back?

 

And as an advocate for special needs scouting I'm ashamed that I actually read that Leader in the BSA would actually say this under the context you did "I don't think I will ever have to worry about him becoming an Eagle" You've already let him down and setting him up for failure.

 

Have you ever been to leader training???? Have you read Advancment Committee Policies and Procedures starting on page 39? Have you read Scouting for Youth with Disabilities Manual?

 

What a pity

 

 

 

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Have a question for MTM25653. If this special needs scout cannot read or write how did he go about the Eagle req. merit badges? We presently have a special needs scout and mom is very, how should I say this, secretive about the disability that is obvious. Has told us he is ADHD but that is not all that is going on. He has an aid at school with him through out the day. Working with him for the last year has at times been a real challange. Any suggestions will be appreciated. Currently he is second class. He dosn't like to do alot of what is in the program.

Mom is one of the helicopter people. Drops off in parking lot and poof. Asked her to help with him on outings on numerous occasions (he will walk off) and she says I can't. There are 2 older brothers who have earned Eagle.

 

 

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kbandit, what you are describing reminds me of a boy we had in our troop in the past who had some very obvious emotional/behavioral impairments along with (way beyond) ADHD. Unfortunately our troop did not handle the situation all that well despite enormous amounts of patience and good intentions for the most part, and we eventually lost not only that boy, but also some others along the way who couldn't deal with him any longer.

 

I think a couple of really caring adults need to sit down with mom when they are not annoyed or frustrated about something the boy has/has not done, and have a serious talk about it. It needs to NOT be a laundry list of accusations or complaints from the past (which ought to have been addressed in the past, no point in laying it all on her now really, except to make her feel cornered.) Ask her point blank for more assistance in understanding and working with her own kiddo. But I wouldn't call her a helicopter mom from what you describe - after all, she may be actively trying to give her special needs son a place of his own where she isn't intervening every moment of every day (although this seems to have backfired from what you are describing).

 

Back to the original thread, I suppose it depends a good bit on how severely impaired the boy in question is. But I will tell you that we have a boy right now in our troop with some serious impairments, who struggled with some of the requirements for 1st Cl. rank for three years. His parents were about to give up and request alternate requirements when the boy was finally able to complete them as written. And that boy was walking on clouds for weeks after that. His parents and many other adults in the troop were surprised that he had been able to do it. The boy himself told me that he had learned a lot about determination and that nobody should think he is a quitter. Wow. If the rest of our boys who earn 1st class would learn that same lesson I would be delighted.

 

Joe, your new scout may have more significant impairments and the alternate requirements option may make a lot of sense for him. You've received good advice about how to go about that process. But just don't sell him short; his leadership and abilities may be different from other scouts but you may be surprised at the type of role model he could be for others in the troop.

 

 

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Thanks Lisabob. We have lost some over the one already. We are trying to give all a good program. Just trying at times.

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