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BDPT00

A New Video Regarding Kids With Special Needs

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BSA doesn't yet offer training for working with kids who have neurological issues.  These kids can be a real pain in the butt, and can disrupt normal troop operations and dynamics.  In an effort to address how to work with these kids, our council has produced this video.  It was placed on council's website in April.  Check it out.  We all know kids who don't fit the Norman Rockwell mold.  Here's an opportunity to learn about them, and try to find effective ways to help them fit in, and to achieve success.  It's pretty easy to find ... www.northernstarbsa.org  ... then click on 'training'  and then 'unit training resources' 

 

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BSA doesn't yet offer training for working with kids who have neurological issues.  These kids can be a real pain in the butt, and can disrupt normal troop operations and dynamics.  In an effort to address how to work with these kids, our council has produced this video.  It was placed on council's website in April.  Check it out.  We all know kids who don't fit the Norman Rockwell mold.  Here's an opportunity to learn about them, and try to find effective ways to help them fit in, and to achieve success.  It's pretty easy to find ... www.northernstarbsa.org  ... then click on 'training'  and then 'unit training resources' 

 

I have a special needs scout, as well as having a few in our unit. Having lived this issue for the last 15 years I can speak with some authority.

 

A few comments:

  • I take issue with the comment "these kids can be a real pain in the butt". That's not exactly nice, let alone correct. I have had MORE issue with "normal" kids than I have EVER had with special needs kids. In fact, kids with food allergies were more "a real pain in the butt" than any special needs kid. A little sensitivity and perspective would be good here.

     

  • God forbid BSA get involved in special needs training. There are better resources out there from which to take training than BSA could ever do. Try your local school district, colleges or universities have great programs geared toward teachers and parents on dealing with special needs kids. Some hospitals or research centers also have such training. There are also pediatric or autism-spectrum organizations that have conventions, continuing education and other training. ANY of those would be BY FAR superior to anything BSA could do.

     

  • Kids with needs are, for the most part, just like any other kid. Learning what motivates and inspires them is the key. If you approach treating these kids differently you've made your first mistake.

     

  • Parent cooperation and involvement is KEY!!! If a parent just drops the kid off, are absent or uninvolved, or worse...are in denial as to their scout's condition, then you MUST have a sit down and discuss how to manage and help the scout. Parents MUST be involved with special needs kids. If they have problems managing them then the scout unit will see that ten fold. The parent is the BEST resource to help manage and control a special needs kid.

I will say this, we have an Autistic scout earning his Eagle this year. He earned everything without accommodation (lessened requirements). I could not be prouder of this young man. He's had a few moments over the years, but the sense of satisfaction I get from seeing this young man stand on his own and reach Eagle is akin to how I feel at my own son's accomplishments.

 

At the risk of sounding pedantic I would urge folks to have some compassion and understanding with these scouts. They may be a handful, but if you get the training -- and get the support and involvement of the parents -- managing these kids is no more an issue than managing "normal" kids. I'm getting down off my soap box now. ;)

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I've had my fair share of challenged kids over the years.  Sure they are a pain in the butt, but so is every other youth I have worked with.  Somethings can be fixed (attitude) and others need a work around (physical disability).  But they can all be dealt with to the betterment of the kids.

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Bad Wolf,

I found your sensitivity comments interesting.  Aren't we both lucky I don't happen to have a child with a food allergy?

My comments were made to catch people's attention, and I see I caught yours.  I've visited at least a dozen units over the past couple years, and have travelled several hundred miles doing so.  These units were in a crisis because the leadership had no clue what to do with these kids.  Had one unit lose 11 families because the troop committee chair stood his ground, and would not get rid of the Scout with special needs (And yes, this kid was a pain in the butt to all of those families, one mother of which holds a PHD in clinical psychology).  They didn't know how to 'fix' him.  I also happen to have a lot of experience with this, and I know exactly what I'm talking about.  I would invite you to view the video, and would appreciate your feed back.  I agree that there are plenty of places out there to find information, but we volunteers don't happen to know of those resources, and the crisis is 'right now' because families are ready to walk.

We can't address every unit in the council individually, and we don't want to wait for the crises.  This is an attempt to put out the fires before they start.

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Any boy or family that can't find room for a scout with a disability, will not be able to do a minimally passing attempt at the scout Oath and Law and would probably do better putting their kid into a sport program that will automatically eliminate such youth.  I really don't have the time or patience to tolerate such actions from others.

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I have a special needs scout, as well as having a few in our unit. Having lived this issue for the last 15 years I can speak with some authority.

 

A few comments:

  • I take issue with the comment "these kids can be a real pain in the butt". That's not exactly nice, let alone correct. I have had MORE issue with "normal" kids than I have EVER had with special needs kids. In fact, kids with food allergies were more "a real pain in the butt" than any special needs kid. A little sensitivity and perspective would be good here.

     

  • God forbid BSA get involved in special needs training. There are better resources out there from which to take training than BSA could ever do. Try your local school district, colleges or universities have great programs geared toward teachers and parents on dealing with special needs kids. Some hospitals or research centers also have such training. There are also pediatric or autism-spectrum organizations that have conventions, continuing education and other training. ANY of those would be BY FAR superior to anything BSA could do.

     

  • Kids with needs are, for the most part, just like any other kid. Learning what motivates and inspires them is the key. If you approach treating these kids differently you've made your first mistake.

     

  • Parent cooperation and involvement is KEY!!! If a parent just drops the kid off, are absent or uninvolved, or worse...are in denial as to their scout's condition, then you MUST have a sit down and discuss how to manage and help the scout. Parents MUST be involved with special needs kids. If they have problems managing them then the scout unit will see that ten fold. The parent is the BEST resource to help manage and control a special needs kid.

I will say this, we have an Autistic scout earning his Eagle this year. He earned everything without accommodation (lessened requirements). I could not be prouder of this young man. He's had a few moments over the years, but the sense of satisfaction I get from seeing this young man stand on his own and reach Eagle is akin to how I feel at my own son's accomplishments.

 

At the risk of sounding pedantic I would urge folks to have some compassion and understanding with these scouts. They may be a handful, but if you get the training -- and get the support and involvement of the parents -- managing these kids is no more an issue than managing "normal" kids. I'm getting down off my soap box now. ;)

This.  Make room on the soap box.  The biggest PITB I experienced over time are NT kids picking on those with special needs.  Mine's 17 FWIW.  I'll make an effort to review the videos when I have the time to dedicate to them. 

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Bad Wolf,

I found your sensitivity comments interesting.  Aren't we both lucky I don't happen to have a child with a food allergy?

My comments were made to catch people's attention, and I see I caught yours.  I've visited at least a dozen units over the past couple years, and have travelled several hundred miles doing so.  These units were in a crisis because the leadership had no clue what to do with these kids.  Had one unit lose 11 families because the troop committee chair stood his ground, and would not get rid of the Scout with special needs (And yes, this kid was a pain in the butt to all of those families, one mother of which holds a PHD in clinical psychology).  They didn't know how to 'fix' him.  I also happen to have a lot of experience with this, and I know exactly what I'm talking about.  I would invite you to view the video, and would appreciate your feed back.  I agree that there are plenty of places out there to find information, but we volunteers don't happen to know of those resources, and the crisis is 'right now' because families are ready to walk.

We can't address every unit in the council individually, and we don't want to wait for the crises.  This is an attempt to put out the fires before they start.

Why were they trying to "fix" him.  That may have been the first mistake.

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Why were they trying to "fix" him.  That may have been the first mistake.

 

I have had "normal" kids with attitude problems that couldn't be fixed either.

 

We are not there to fix kids, we are there  to assist them in becoming successful. 

 

 

:)  Maybe some of those 11 families need fixing......

Edited by Stosh

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Bad Wolf,

I found your sensitivity comments interesting.  Aren't we both lucky I don't happen to have a child with a food allergy?

My comments were made to catch people's attention, and I see I caught yours.  I've visited at least a dozen units over the past couple years, and have travelled several hundred miles doing so.  These units were in a crisis because the leadership had no clue what to do with these kids.  Had one unit lose 11 families because the troop committee chair stood his ground, and would not get rid of the Scout with special needs (And yes, this kid was a pain in the butt to all of those families, one mother of which holds a PHD in clinical psychology).  They didn't know how to 'fix' him.  I also happen to have a lot of experience with this, and I know exactly what I'm talking about.  I would invite you to view the video, and would appreciate your feed back.  I agree that there are plenty of places out there to find information, but we volunteers don't happen to know of those resources, and the crisis is 'right now' because families are ready to walk.

We can't address every unit in the council individually, and we don't want to wait for the crises.  This is an attempt to put out the fires before they start.

 

My only concern with the original post was the reference to special needs kids as being pains in the butt. If I said that about a gay kid I would be tarred and feathered by most in this forum. My only point was to note that special needs kids, while challenging, are just as deserving of our understanding, support and patience as gay, straight, black, white or any other scout.

 

That said, my points still stand. There are resources where leaders can get trained. HOWEVER, I personally don't feel a unit should take on a special needs scout UNLESS the parent(s) have skin in the game and will be there to help, advise and co-manage. Other than that, managing special needs scouts are the same as any other scout, but that support and training must  be in place.

 

Any boy or family that can't find room for a scout with a disability, will not be able to do a minimally passing attempt at the scout Oath and Law and would probably do better putting their kid into a sport program that will automatically eliminate such youth.  I really don't have the time or patience to tolerate such actions from others.

 

Exactly! No better way for a scout to show he lives by the Oath and Law than by helping a special needs kid.

 

Why were they trying to "fix" him.  That may have been the first mistake.

 

^^^^

THIS. No offense meant @@BDPT00, but this statement and the 'pain in the butt" statement seem to indicate you don't have first-hand experience in successfully dealing with special needs kids. If you are using these phrases as hyperbole to draw attention to this matter then maybe I understand. If not, it rings a bit inflammatory and not understanding of the issue.

 

On a personal note, I am more than happy to help you in any way possible. This is obviously a very personal issue for me and I know many parents of special needs kids see scouting as a way for their son to feel accepted and "normal". Anything I can do to help ANY kid like that feel and see success and growth I am happy to help!

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Tough crowd!  These 11 families had a perceived problem.  It happened to be in the form of a particular Scout.  The solution ('fix') was that, "Either he goes, or we go."  Like it or not, that was the situation.  The point is that this isn't the only unit that deals with this issue, and something needs to be done.  We either leave it up to each unit to deal with it as they are able when the time comes, or we try to do something about it.  These kids have lots of opportunities to experience failure and rejection.  They deal with their own battles every day.  Scouting should offer an opportunity to succeed and to find acceptance.  

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On a personal note, I am more than happy to help you in any way possible. This is obviously a very personal issue for me and I know many parents of special needs kids see scouting as a way for their son to feel accepted and "normal". Anything I can do to help ANY kid like that feel and see success and growth I am happy to help!

Yep, me too.  On both the personal and willing to help front.  There's a group on facebook called Autism and Scouting that has done some good work in putting together training.  Mostly scouters with kids on the spectrum.  They also adapted the IEP concept to scouting to help units work through some of the issues.  I haven't seen their stuff in a while but it's a pre-built wheel for review.

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Tough crowd!  These 11 families had a perceived problem.  It happened to be in the form of a particular Scout.  The solution ('fix') was that, "Either he goes, or we go."  Like it or not, that was the situation.  The point is that this isn't the only unit that deals with this issue, and something needs to be done.  We either leave it up to each unit to deal with it as they are able when the time comes, or we try to do something about it.  These kids have lots of opportunities to experience failure and rejection.  They deal with their own battles every day.  Scouting should offer an opportunity to succeed and to find acceptance.  

 

Not really a tough crowd, you just hit a raw nerve. ;) We seem to tip toe around certain issues while other issues we flat out commit political incorrectness galore. No ill-will perceived on my part, just a coaching point. If I were in your shoes (I assume you are in the district leadership?) I would do the following to help these units:

  • Find a unit(s) and families that are successfully dealing with special needs kids. Find out their strategies, the successes and failures. 
  • Identify where you (or someone in your district) can take some basic training. the special needs spectrum is huge and the strategies to cope with various kids is different.
  • Hold a RT or focus group on the subject. We do this for camping, cooking, program planning, etc., why not for how to manage special needs kids. Have guest speaker who can give real life strategies. 
  • After you have the training you can put together an action plan for units, perhaps even partner with an organization to provide district-based training. We did this in my area (was run by our unit since the district is so self-important and not interested in such things).
  • I suspect the most common special needs (no quotes) will be ADD/ADHD, Aspergers spectrum, dietary/allergy needs, behavioral disorder, maybe higher-functioning Autism but that is rare. Again, most families dealing with these things, especially Aspergers and Autism spectrum, already have coping and managing tactics. You'll find families coping with ADD/ADHD either have extreme experience and good strategies OR you have the parents who have given up and are looking for you to baby sit.

As to the videos, I think they are a good resource. However, gotta say I would have done things a bit differently.

  • The narrative in the first five minutes is similar to how you started off this thread. Again, I go back to the gay issue. If you did a training video on how to deal with gay scouts and took this approach you'd be flayed by the more liberal folks here. The BIGGEST issue in dealing with special needs people is treating them like people from the start. 
  • The first 15 mins or so are spent convincing leaders that helping a special needs scout is worthwhile. From my point of view if you have ANY leader unwilling to help ANY youth they are in the wrong role. Would you spend 15-20 mins convincing a leader off the efficacy of helping inner city kids? Probably not, so why do it with special needs kids?
  • After the first 15 mins you get in to how to identify and understand these conditions. Well done!
  • Parts 2-4 are VERY well done! For those who have no clue about special needs kids this should help.

Your council should offer this up to other councils for use. I would keep this far away for national...they will just muck it up. Kudos for having a council that cares about an important issue. I may move to MN. ;)

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Thanks, Bad Wolf.  I speak a lot on this subject.  My normal role is to play the part of the Scoutmaster who'd rather see the 'disruptive Scout' go to another unit.  I think I say out loud what people are thinking.  I do this as an introduction to a person like yourself who has dealt with this 24/7 for 20+ years.  Our talks are often met with many tears from parents who felt that they were alone, and that nobody cared.  Families join Scouting because they believe it to be a 'special place.'  It sure can be, but it's too often not.  We try to change that when DEs come begging for help.  By then, a lot of feelings have been hurt, and bridges have been burned.  We hope the video can help.  

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Thanks, Bad Wolf.  I speak a lot on this subject.  My normal role is to play the part of the Scoutmaster who'd rather see the 'disruptive Scout' go to another unit.  I think I say out loud what people are thinking.  I do this as an introduction to a person like yourself who has dealt with this 24/7 for 20+ years.  Our talks are often met with many tears from parents who felt that they were alone, and that nobody cared.  Families join Scouting because they believe it to be a 'special place.'  It sure can be, but it's too often not.  We try to change that when DEs come begging for help.  By then, a lot of feelings have been hurt, and bridges have been burned.  We hope the video can help.  

 

Just shared with my scouter list. You should see some hits from the Great West! ;)

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Well!  Thanks again.

With the obvious exception of the narrators, the video was totally unscripted.  These folks are real Scouters, sharing real opinions.  Some might appear harsh, while others are very compassionate.  All are sincere.  I'm sure that the objective with the beginning was to attract the everyday-Scouter who can relate to the issues raised.  These are very difficult circumstance for a lot of people, particularly those who've never encountered them before.  It's heartbreaking when a unit hits a brick wall, and has decided that the only solution is to 'remove the tumor' (there, I did it again) and move on.  If the family goes to another unit, it's now their problem.  I've seen it happen, and I'm assuming you have, too. 

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