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christineka

cub scouts for the blind

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My little boy will soon be 8 and join cub scouts (LDS). I'm starting to worry about him. He is legally blind, which means that he has vision, but it's poor enough for the blind status. He can read really, really large print or braille and he writes in braille. Distance vision is pretty bad, too, though he runs around, like a regular crazy, wild kid. He gets really frustrated when attempting to play sports with balls as he can't see the ball until he's close to it. He likes to keep up the impression that he's like everyone else, so at church he pretends he doesn't like to color, so as not to let on that he just can't see the lines well enough to color between them. This will be the first time the kids at church will really see my son's disability and I don't want my son hurt by others thinking he's so much more different. At the same thing, I would want the leaders to make scouts accessible to my son. (Let me know before they do writing, so he can bring in a slate and stylus or brailler or play sports with a belled ball, etc.) Is this reasonable for the the leader to work with me on making scouts accessible? My son has no developmental issues, so I don't think the special needs pack would be as appropriate for him as the regular one. Do you have any insight on having a blind boy in cub scouts?

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I can't comment specifically about your son's disability but in our pack we have a boy who has Down's syndrome and we have him in our regular dens and he does fine. We do expect that the parents help us understand how to best work with him.

 

If your son would join our pack, I would welcome him and work with you on what he can and can't do. The other boys might learn something from your son. There may be some things he just can't do but usually you can incorporate the boys into something at the same time. In general, I think only sports games might be an issue. Everything else would be fine, IMHO.

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Most scout leaders are glad to make changes to accommodate special needs. The challenge I've seen is that we're all volunteers and not trained for special needs situations and have little budget or extra time and resources to support special needs.

 

I've seen it work well repeatedly if you can meet the scout group half way.

 

---- Let them know what he needs ... continually and in a polite way. Leaders change and new leaders need to be brought in too.

 

---- Help support your scout. Leaders are busy just trying to keep the program going. If you can provide the little extras to help it be good for your son, that would go a long way.

 

I've seen it also not work as well when the parent makes assumptions about people and resources.

 

Most leaders are there by the good will of their heart and will bend over backwards to help a scout in need. But it's the actions of a neighbor and friend, not a business or government.

 

-------------------------------------

 

Scoutbooks are online for those with print reading disabilities. Would that help his reading ability?

 

http://www.scouting.org/sitecore/content/AlumniAlive/Happenings/2011_12_disabled.aspx

 

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I am very willing to help, but I need communication from the leader in order to do so. (I do not have the ability to predict what boys will be working on, without it being communicated the regular way to me.) I have tried to get his teachers at church to work with me on making church classes accessible, but either they believe he can just miss out, or they don't believe his vision is a problem, because he does have some. When I was his teacher at church, I'd doctor those coloring pictures to work for him (add puff paint along the lines.) Now that I'm not his teacher, I can't predict when they'll have a coloring picture.

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Best of luck. I know the LDS packs are run differently, but I would contact the committee chair and cubmaster of the pack and talk with them. It sounds like you are willing to put in the effort, I would request you to be an assistant den leader so that you can be there to help and be knowledgeable of the program.

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christineka as a parent of a son with a disability ASD I am going to tell you do now worry about it at all you do need to work with cub master and the den leaders to make sure his needs are meet. and they will just remember they are volunteers most den leaders have and idea of what they are going to do before hand way before hand so you will be able to work things out to help your son.

 

things I will not worry about are the other kids making fun of him it is funny but that does not seem to happen in our pack with my son he looks normal he is just a little off and it if funny I almost cried when some of the kids on the camp out went and got him to play in the game

 

by all means enroll your son in scouting by all means he will have fun and the other kids will be nice to him too and make sure you tell the den leader that you will be there to help with him.

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Cub/Boy Scouts should help prepare boys for life. You will not always be there to help your son, so preparing and enabling him to adapt are very important. And he'll do it better than you might predict. He'll have to at some point.

 

Within scouting, there are boys with a variety of conditions. Some are physical, some psychological. Some are as simple as food allergies, some are much more critical. Your son, like many of the boys, simply will not be able to participate in everything. Your son, like many of the boys, may be able to participate in some activities with a reasonable amount of modification to the activity.

 

The responsibility for knowing how to modify an activity is yours primarily. You must communicate to the den leaders and scoutmaster how his experience could be enhanced. And bear in mind, your son's scout leadership are volunteers, and did not wake up this morning and start their day by jogging across the lake, on top of the water.

 

Back when I taught motorcycle safety, I had a deaf teenager take the course. It was a surprise to me as the night of class was the night we learned of it. When I told his mom that it would have been nice to know in advance, she felt she had the right to read me the riot act (much to her son's embarrassment). I explained to her, that with advance notice, I might have been able to contact the MSF to see if there were closed captioned versions of the videos, or that I might have been able to find an instructor who signed. If she felt dumb for going off on me, well, she certainly deserved it. Her son turned out to be very easy to instruct, as he paid close attention, read my lips as well as his student guide and could "hear" me over the motorcycle engines when we were on the range.

 

Your son will surprise you.

 

 

 

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In the first post you mentioned that he will act like he doesn't have vision issues and you gave an example that he will avoid coloring. In another post you mentioned that you would finish the coloring so it looked like he did it. But then you complain in the same post that people don't believe he has a vision problem. They might be reacting to what they think you and your son want... to ignore the vision problem and act like it doesn't exist. It seems you and your son might be sending mixed messages. They might believe he has a vision problem but they think you and your son wants it to be ignored. You need to be an advocate for your son and specifically (but politely) say what his needs are.

 

I think that most den leaders would enjoy the experience of working with your son. But they probably will not have experience. You should explain how the different activities could be adjusted. Most den leaders know what they are covering ahead of time. some plan the whol year old a head of time with detailed plans, others might only have the next meeting planned but either way they are going to know before the meeting. Set these expectation that you need to know what will be covered a few days before the meeting.

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Moms gotta worry! ;) Chances are it will be the moms and dads who think they need to sweep in and save your son who will need to be educated. But that will need to come from your son. The boy is at the point where he will learn to self-advocate and specify where he could use a little help. His buddies are likely the ones who will have time to figure out most of his cues. So,,let the DL know that your son has two conditions: impaired vision and a stubborn streak.

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First of all - to Sidney - the OP did NOT state she would "finish the coloring so it looked like he did it". What she DID say was she would "doctor those coloring pictures to work for him (add puff paint along the lines.)". Puff paint on the lines allows her son to "see" the lines, and be able to color within them - on his own.

 

Now, to Christineka - First of all, you will need to sit your son down and have a conversation about his disability. He has to acknowledge that yes, he DOES have a disability, and it WILL affect how he interacts with others. Yes, he CAN do pretty much what ever he wants to do, however he might not be able to do those things the same way that others do them. Pretending he can, and that he is not disabled, is not good.

 

As others have stated, he needs to learn to speak for himself. Let his leader know when he has a problem with something.

 

You, and your son, need to talk to his leaders - in advance - and lay out his limitations, and way to accommodate for them. Stress that he will need sound and touch to replace the visual cues he will not be able to sense.

 

Puff paint on lines is one way (offer to supply the paint). Simply doing a hard trace of the lines with a closed pen might also work without the added cost of buying puff paint.

 

Provide the den with a "belled" ball so they have one handy for whenever they decide to pay a game.

 

Give your son a backpack, and have him carry his slate, stylus, and brailler, with him to every meeting. That way he is Prepared, and you do not have to rely on knowing the schedule for each meeting (which can change at a moments notice).

 

Purchase your son a large print, or braille, issue of his Cub handbooks. Visit your local Council shop to see what they can do for your son.

 

You might also convince your son to talk to his den about his disability. He can describe how he sees the world. He can also let them know the help he might need from them - and the help he will NOT need.

 

Let your son know that different is simply different, not better, or worse. Also help him realize that everyone is "different" in some way. If we were all the same what fun would that be!

 

Have FUN!

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we had a blind boy in my older son's Pack. I would try not to worry too much... tell his leader what you told us, and trust him to do his best to do the right thing.

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Hi christineka,

 

We had a sight limited scout in our troop recently. He was shy. He never asked for help even if he needed it.

The only advice I would add is if needed, help your son find the courage to ask for help if he needs it.

 

By the way, the parent of the scout dropped by either the scout shop, or council, I can't remember which, asked for a large print version of the scout handbook and they printed him one up for free. Each page was blown up to 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. I don't know if that is what all councils will do though.

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