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Sean's Mom

Aquanaut accomodations for special needs kids

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We attended Webelos Resident Camp and I am butting heads with our leader over Aquanaut. My son has Asperger's and is legitimately, genuinely afraid of the water. I am trying to help him by figuring out ways to accomplish this. We are not babying this child. He will have to accomplish his goals. We are not the parents who are "in denial" of our son's special needs. We know all too well and we are finding out as we go along what his anxieties are. It is a learning process. I was trying to talk to his leader and explain this, and see what we could do, and he cut me offend told me I just needed to read the handbook. Over and over. I wasn't ignorant of the requirements, I was trying to help figure out accomodations. My plan now is to talk with the cub master since we seem to be getting no where with the leader. My heart is just breaking for my boy. We are trying.

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I can't answer for the cub program, but I have gone through the paperwork to apply for alternate requirements for a kid with a clear physical disability that prevented him from swimming and surviving. I am pretty sure that as a cub, he simply didn't earn aquanaut. For Aspergers, we generally take aquatic instruction slowly. We get other scouts to leave the swimmers area and spend time with the boy in non-swimmers area. Scouting is about overcoming psychological barriers. Generally scouts with this disability don't want special accommodation anymore. It makes their award seem "fake" to them. You will probably be better off telling the boy that his fear of water is preventing him from earning that pin. Then, go on to work on a different award until he tells you he's ready to try swimming again.

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Will he get in the pool at all?????

 

If not he cannot or should not receive the award...Sorry. their is no accommodation large enough to allow for it.

 

So, you need to start to work with him now to correct it. work from the bath tub to the small kiddy pool in the backyard.....to the kiddy pool at the local swim club to a smaller hotel style swimming pool, then to a regular sized pool.

 

If he can't or refuses to complete Aquanaut then he doesn't deserve to earn the Arrow of Light.

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If he can't or refuses to complete Aquanaut then he doesn't deserve to earn the Arrow of Light.

 

Uh Basement, since when has Aquanaut ever been required for Arrow of Light? If the kid can't do Aquanaut, no big deal. Earn another badge. I never earned Aquanaut (couldn't swim until 5th-6th grade) and in my day (Webelos from '91-'93) there was no push to earn all 20 pins.

 

The fundamental standard of cub scout advancement is "Do your best." That said, I think getting in the water and attempting to complete some of the requirements would be expected to qualify for the badge.

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My bad, been a couple of years, I was thinking is was required.....

 

Well then as Eagle pointed out, Not earning is no big deal.....let him earn something else from the group.

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I suggest contacting your council or district level special needs chairperson or executive. If you are in a small council, help should be available from a larger one. Your local unit leadership is not likely trained in special needs policies. You should have a solid understanding of the accommodations the BSA allows as this issue will likely arise many times in your sons scouting career. From my limited knowledge of the issue the BSA is much more accommodating for physical disabilities than mental, but accommodations are available. Understanding the roadblocks your son may experience will help mitigate any disappointments in the future. Realize his journey will likely be a more difficult one. It is unfortunate you have been subjected to such crass responses from your local leadership and this forum.

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Take heart. My son has Asperger's as well and was in the same place a number of years ago. It took us several years to get him through the process of learning to swim. His Eagle Board of Review is next week, right before we leave for Jamboree. It's my wish that you will have the same success. Thank you for being engaged and being your son's advocate. You are going to find plenty of blowhard idiot leaders in scouting who will refuse to make accommodations because they are super-scouters who know everything. Ignore them. If this leader is as big a jerk as you describe, find a different pack. As has been mentioned Aquanaut isn't required for squat. The Cub Scout Motto is Do Your Best. Keep working at it and finding the parts that work for your son. Scouting has been good for my son even if it hasn't been a great experience for him or us. It's worth the effort but it's far from the only youth program out there that our kids can benefit from attending.

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I suggest contacting your council or district level special needs chairperson or executive. If you are in a small council, help should be available from a larger one. Your local unit leadership is not likely trained in special needs policies. You should have a solid understanding of the accommodations the BSA allows as this issue will likely arise many times in your sons scouting career. From my limited knowledge of the issue the BSA is much more accommodating for physical disabilities than mental, but accommodations are available. Understanding the roadblocks your son may experience will help mitigate any disappointments in the future. Realize his journey will likely be a more difficult one. It is unfortunate you have been subjected to such crass responses from your local leadership and this forum.
So your good with a lad who refuses to get into the pool receiving Aquanaut because of a "disability".

 

Well sorry I am not.....

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I suggest contacting your council or district level special needs chairperson or executive. If you are in a small council, help should be available from a larger one. Your local unit leadership is not likely trained in special needs policies. You should have a solid understanding of the accommodations the BSA allows as this issue will likely arise many times in your sons scouting career. From my limited knowledge of the issue the BSA is much more accommodating for physical disabilities than mental, but accommodations are available. Understanding the roadblocks your son may experience will help mitigate any disappointments in the future. Realize his journey will likely be a more difficult one. It is unfortunate you have been subjected to such crass responses from your local leadership and this forum.
I did not say that. I suggested the OP contact people with more knowledge of the issues at hand for guidance. Certainly there are professionals with experience with this issue that can provide educated advise.

 

I am not well versed in Aspergers but was unaware it is some imaginary "disability".

 

Furthermore the OP did not say her son would not get in the water at all. She did indicate he was not able to complete all the requirements. We both know this is not the standard in cub scouts.

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Take heart. My son has Asperger's as well and was in the same place a number of years ago. It took us several years to get him through the process of learning to swim. His Eagle Board of Review is next week, right before we leave for Jamboree. It's my wish that you will have the same success. Thank you for being engaged and being your son's advocate. You are going to find plenty of blowhard idiot leaders in scouting who will refuse to make accommodations because they are super-scouters who know everything. Ignore them. If this leader is as big a jerk as you describe, find a different pack. As has been mentioned Aquanaut isn't required for squat. The Cub Scout Motto is Do Your Best. Keep working at it and finding the parts that work for your son. Scouting has been good for my son even if it hasn't been a great experience for him or us. It's worth the effort but it's far from the only youth program out there that our kids can benefit from attending.
congrats.....

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Disability accomodations only apply to the actual rank requirements, or getting a substitute badge for AOL or boy scout ranks. I've never seen disability accomodations for the optional elective portions of ranks/badges/belt loops at the webelos and higher level. Below Webelos trying it is good enough, but when a scout refuses to try, we don't reward that level of non-participation with a badge.

 

Since Aquanaut is not required for the Arrow of Light Rank, it's an optional elective within the Webelos program. Instead of doing that badge in the physical skills area, your son can work on a different badge in that area for his AOL.

 

Like Boy Scouts, Webelos gives the boys a chance to earn the badges that interest them, with a few of them required for the rank, so we have had boys earn AOL with all sorts of permutations of the 20 badges available. We always have a few boys who never complete Aquanaut because they cannot pass the swim portion. And that's ok. It gives them something to work on, since much of the Aquanaut requirements are virtually the same as the Rank requirements in the trail to 1st Class.

 

 

Note: We view Webelos as sort of a step above Do your best, so we expect the boys to try it and do what they can and they are often surprised at their ability. But if they don't actually do the requirements for a webelos badge, they don't get handed the badge.

 

We also view swimming as a very important life skill, so we do hope nobody gives out swim test levels based on how hard you tried to pass the swim test, rather than how well you actually did on the swim test.

 

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Hi Sean's Mom. I'm sorry your son's leader was short with him. My son is to this day "legitimately, genuinely" afraid of the water, more so than anyone else I have ever met. He is a 21 year old Eagle Scout who did not earn his Aquanaut, because he was not willing to swim. He eventually took several sessions of one-on-one lessons and was able to learn to swim well enough to earn his ranks in Boy Scouts, but he definitely hated it and did the bare minimum in that department. 3 years spending 7 weeks living at camp in the summer as a staffer and he never even brought a swimsuit with him. Asperger's has nothing to do with fear of water... if it's a fear he cannot overcome, he can't earn the award. Swimming awards are some that I personally as a Cub and Boy Scout leader am very strict on.... because they *matter*. A passed swim test can mean a ticket to so many activities where he will be in real danger if he does not actually have the skills. Please... there is so much more to Scouts than receiving every award. If your son can't/won't swim... he is not an Aquanaut.

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Yes, they don't have to pass the BSA swimmer test, but they do have to swim.

 

the top required 3 parts of the badge all include getting into the water and swimming. [paraphrased requirements below]

1. swim 100 feet, half as backstroke, 2. back float and survival floats 3. swim 25 ft with a PDF on.

then choose 3 of the following 5

4. front surface dive and swim under water 4 strokes, 5. explain water rescue techniques and demondstrate reach and throw.

6. with an adult onboard show handling of a rowboat (I see this as only being able to occur at council camps due to guide to safe scouting)

7. pass BSA swimmers test or 8. earn the swimming belt loop (which requires safe swim knowledge, play a game in the water with your den or family and kickboard across the pool 25 ft)

 

I do not see how the youth can do 1-3 with a severe fear of the water.

nor 4, 7 or 8.

6 would be a bad idea to do if the youth is afraid of water why put him in a boat?

that leaves 5 as the only one that doesn't require the scout to get into the water.

 

That means he's not a swimmer not even a beginning swimmer, so why should he earn the Aquanaut badge. My son couldn't earn it the first time he tried, he couldn't pass the #1 without getting a bloody nose and having to get out of the water.

 

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Disability accomodations only apply to the actual rank requirements, or getting a substitute badge for AOL or boy scout ranks. I've never seen disability accomodations for the optional elective portions of ranks/badges/belt loops at the webelos and higher level. Below Webelos trying it is good enough, but when a scout refuses to try, we don't reward that level of non-participation with a badge.

 

Since Aquanaut is not required for the Arrow of Light Rank, it's an optional elective within the Webelos program. Instead of doing that badge in the physical skills area, your son can work on a different badge in that area for his AOL.

 

Like Boy Scouts, Webelos gives the boys a chance to earn the badges that interest them, with a few of them required for the rank, so we have had boys earn AOL with all sorts of permutations of the 20 badges available. We always have a few boys who never complete Aquanaut because they cannot pass the swim portion. And that's ok. It gives them something to work on, since much of the Aquanaut requirements are virtually the same as the Rank requirements in the trail to 1st Class.

 

 

Note: We view Webelos as sort of a step above Do your best, so we expect the boys to try it and do what they can and they are often surprised at their ability. But if they don't actually do the requirements for a webelos badge, they don't get handed the badge.

 

We also view swimming as a very important life skill, so we do hope nobody gives out swim test levels based on how hard you tried to pass the swim test, rather than how well you actually did on the swim test.

I was unaware that BSA policy states Webelos is a step above Do Your Best. I missed that one. Can you please reference that policy for me ?

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