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IM_Kathy

memorization requirements ?

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I have a boy that has joined our troop who has TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) He has been cleared physically to participate in scouting and attends school and receives assistance.

 

The only issue with scouting that we've found is that he can not memorize anything and repeat it word for word. So if you ask about how to treat something with first aid he can give a good enough answer and can demonstrate, but if you ask him to repeat the Pledge of Allegiance, Oath, or Law he cannot. If I say one of the laws he can tell me what it means to him though. However the requirement for Tenderfoot "Repeat from memory and explain in your own words the Scout Oath, Law, motto, and slogan." Says REPEAT FROM MEMORY. Would you sign off on this or do I need to go ahead and file for disability. I should mention this boy has no interest in getting Eagle he just lives in a house with lots of girls and likes being around boys and going camping.

 

I've only had to deal with swimming requirement with a scout with issues from having had illness when younger that affected his strength and abilities. And special requirement was made.

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Memory disabilities are not uncommon. Ask the scout to repeat after you (short term memory) , the Pledge of Allegiance, Oath, and Law. In severe cases, you may have to speak one word at a time. After he repeats, have him explain the meaning, etc, We have had scouts who could not fully remember these oaths at their BOR but they could remember their meaning.

 

Encourage and build confidence. From what you wrote, I see no need to file for alternative Tenderfoot requirements. Whether the scout is interested in Eagle is irrelevant.

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... Would you sign off on this ...

Depends on how patient and determined the boy is.

 

You could push the paperwork through the council advancement chair. That requires approval of the boys physician, the boy's parents, and the boy himself. That last one is what you want to work with. Deep down the boy may not want to be excused from requirements.

 

Explain to the boy that nobody is in a hurry for him to make rank. This isn't school. If he wants to take a couple of years to earn tenderfoot before filing for a waiver, that's absolutely fine. He can work on any of the First Class skills he wants and master the motor ones (knots, first-aid, navigation, etc ...). Likewise, nothing stops him from earning a few craft/action MBs. Then over the next couple of years, promise to try different tricks to see if he can repeat Oath and Law on his own.

 

Lots of times, when people talk about what a boy can our cannot do, they have a 12 month time frame. We in scouting have a 7 year time frame. Have the parents talk to the boy's teaching aids about the possibility of him being able to repeat things from memory in the long term. Just like it's okay for a boy to take four years to swim test. It's okay (and in this case, possibly just as rewarding) to take just as long to remember a few words.

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He doesn't have an interest in Eagle NOW. He may very well someday. I'd say that RememberSchiff has the right of it, Repeat after me and explain, then as long as your satisfied, mark off and go on.

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Memorization is not as difficult as people make it out to be. Most people, even those with cognitive impairments can recite back their parents' names, address and phone number without too much difficulty.

 

If one wishes to "memorize" something every morning and evening just read it through. Within a month a person should have it memorized and didn't "memorize" it, simply read it to themselves repeatedly. If one just sits down and forces themselves to memorize something it is far more difficult.

 

Stosh

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Well, a friend of my family (TBI 70 years ago) can't say our names. He called me "hey". He calls Son #2 "Bey" (ever since he met him as a baby); and my wife, "Ma." Speech is a factor, but also he just can't draw on the words for things. He has to recycle the one' she learned in childhood, to describe his life experience. Every brain is different. That said, you never will know if this is the equivalent of the pull-up problem ("Scout can't do pull-ups" "Has he tried for a month?" "Yes." "Every day he hung from a bar and give it a go for five minutes?" "Well no, because he can't do them." :< ) unless the boy challenges his brain daily for an extended period of time.

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And yet I knew a lady who was disabled who pastors over many years would not "confirm" her in the church. No one had ever tried working with her. I got her to memorize the entire Lutheran catechism which was one of the requirements and a couple dozen psalms along with a number of other Bible passages of her choosing. I called it enough and confirmed her. Other than the bible verses, she knew little or nothing of what the words meant, but she had a vague enough understanding to try and explain it to me. It was enough. I confirmed her one Sunday in front of the congregation and no one challenged it.

 

I also had a Life scout who still struggled with the Law and Oath after 30 years. At 42 he was still working on Eagle. Somehow I didn't see any problems with the process. He knew what all 12 Law meant, he just couldn't put them in order or remember all of them at one time. Ask him one at a time, he could give a satisfactory answer to any of them.

 

Stosh

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yeah guardian name and phone number he can't do either - even though she says they have been working on that for over a year. Thankfully I was hand given them and put them right into my phone and made sure they were on the health forms that are kept in trailer and taken to all activities.

 

I've been asking each week to see if he can just name some - not worrying about order and he can say a couple. He has one other Tenderfoot requirement to complete and will do that next weekend if he camps. So then the following meeting I will see how he does again and how he does with the meanings and if he's really trying I will sign it off and remind adults sitting on his board about his brain injury.

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One more suggestion: he might have trouble remembering a string of words. But he might remember when things are out of place. So ask him one or two things like "Is a scout greedy?" And see if his brain has made some sort of connection. Then let him know that you plan on letting him get by without having him recite the points in order like you do with the other boys. If he's okay with it, proceed as you've planned.

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Someday I may get in trouble for it, but I really don't care if they don't know the Laws in the correct order. I sometimes look the other way when they substitute a different word or phrase. But I hold them accountable for knowing the 12 Meanings of the Laws and practice them. If someone promises something and doesn't come through the verbal tongue lashing he gets is "A Scout is Trustworthy" and the subject is dropped until SMC. By then a ton of water has gone over the dam, tempers are cooled down and I have had a chance to think about what to say that is more appropriate and the boy can learn from the situation.

 

Stosh

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IM_Kathy, as a parent of an autistic scout with auditory processing disorder, I appreciate your concern about doing the right thing for your Scout. I hope we find similar advisors when my Webelo transitions next year.

 

FWIW, here is my take:

 

Neurological issues of any kind are complicated and may not make sense to volunteers or teachers. We are in a constant state of explaining what our son can and cannot do. We have dealt with this for years. Our son sees speech therapists and occupational therapists every week.

 

Our son has splinter skills, which are common in autism. He can do some things way above age level, and others way below age level. It often does not make sense to people outside our family and doctors. For instance, our son is very, very good at memorizing written scripts. He can do very well in drama. He delivers memorized written speech like memorex without stuttering, and generally without missing a word or a beat.

 

At the same time, he cannot process auditory information well at all. We had a drama teacher once who insisted on not writing the script down because she wanted the freedom to keep changing it. :-( She insisted on telling our son his lines orally, and just could not understand that his brain is not capable of processing information received in that manner. It frustrated our son to tears, and he ended up quitting.

 

The upshot is: please listen to the parents. They spend a lot of time with doctors and therapists helping their child do his best. It doesn't matter if it makes sense to the volunteer. It is exhausting explaining the entire medical rigamarole to every volunteer, and occasionally having to argue about it. It is very hard on the child to have to prove yet again that he really can't do certain things. Please just accept it when the parents say "my son can do this, but he can't do that". (can you tell we've been dealing with a very frustrating volunteer this year?)

 

It is my understanding that Scouts are a developmental organization, designed for inclusion of disabled children, hence the "do your best" requirement. Our son absolutely loves being a Scout, and it has been good for him. We are currently looking for a Boy Scout troop that will be a good environment for our autistic son. Our biggest question is the willingness of the volunteers to listen to us, and understand what our son can and cannot do.

 

My fear for my son is that he will have an experience similar to a friend's. Her son is also autistic, and has tremendous difficulty writing (as does my son). In her son's troop, his merit badge counselor insisted on written reports for every badge. It was exhausting. Her son quit. It was very sad. I understand what her son went through because I know it takes my son 4-5 hours to produce a single written page.

 

I am disturbed by the comment that the child isn't interested in Eagle, he just wants to be a Scout. Why is this wrong? For some kids, especially disabled kids, the learning experience and social environment are the goal, not the bling on the uniform. We look to our son's den as the cream of the crop among the little boys at his school, where he can learn social skills without being bullied or teased. That is a valid goal.

 

It should come down to what is best for the disabled child. I've been told many times that Scouting can be a wonderful developmental environment for disabled children. Please let it be that for this child.

 

Thanks for volunteering your time with the kids,

 

GeorgiaMom

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... My fear for my son is that he will have an experience similar to a friend's. Her son is also autistic' date=' and has tremendous difficulty writing (as does my son). In her son's troop, his merit badge counselor insisted on written reports for every badge. It was exhausting. Her son quit. It was very sad. I understand what her son went through because I know it takes my son 4-5 hours to produce a single written page. ...[/quote']

 

This bothers me because:

  • the boy should be able to choose from any counselors in the district.
  • troops really shouldn't be promoting their MBC's over others. Nor should they be turning the MB program into a classroom.
  • most of the "explain" requirements are best served by verbally explaining things. In other words, the most important thing that boys need to do learn is to hold a conversation with adults.

So, that troop wasn't only unfair to the autistic boy. They were unfair to the other boys. This probably had a "double effect" on the autistic kid, because the boys who should be finding creative ways to help him, were learning that performing a high-functioning skill (i.e. paperwork) was the only way their buddy could pass his requirements.

 

Our troop MBC's give the boys worksheets to work through. Sometimes this helps them learn as a team. But, I make it clear to the boys that they don't have to sit around completing worksheets. If they want to go at their own pace, call the counselor and set up an appointment. They may work from memory, notes on the back of their hand, make up a silly song, whatever. If they don't know something on the first appointment, come back again. But, if they have learned something our counselors should flexible in enabling each scout to tell us what they've learned.

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All MBCs must be registered with the District and "Trained". In the training, they are taught that they may NOT add or subtract from the requirements. Worksheets and written reports are "added requirements" if not expressly required in the MB Pamphlet. That being said, the BSA has a process for "alternate requirements" for boys who have a documented disability.

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