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Eagle For Scout With Down Syndrome

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I am looking for advice on how to help my troop's scout leaders understand that a scout with Down Syndrome can earn Eagle.  Tom (not his real name) is a 17 year old Life Scout, is nearly finished with the required merit badges, and has written up his proposal for an Eagle project.  Some of the leaders don't think he can be an Eagle scout because he hasn't shown good enough leadership skills. 

 

Tom can read and write, but due to his somewhat unintelligible speech, he isn't able to "lead" the other boys as easily as those whose speech is understandable.  I am a former speech-language pathologist, and can understand Tom better than the rest of the troop members.  Tom has made huge improvements since he first joined the troop, but some leaders just don't see that.  I try to point out to them instances where Tom has shown leadership, but they just don't think it's enough.  I am afraid that our scoutmaster might not be willing to sign off on Tom's Eagle application, and would appreciate any helpful suggestions that I can use to sway our SM. 

   

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Not only can he become eagle, he can be given until well past his 18th birthday to do it.  I'm not that experienced with "Scouts with Disabilities" programs but do know that scouting allows for "developmental age" to be taken into account for its program age levels.

 

He sounds like Eagle scout material to me.  Chances are your council may have a disabilities advocate or expert.  If not there are BSA resources (some online) that may be available.  Worst case: the Guide to Advancement has all of the appeals procedures for signature denials. 

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Chapter 10 of the Guide to Advancement is entitled "Advancement for Members with Special Needs." I think the Scout, if he is able, and/or whoever is advocating for him, needs to read it and act on it. Immediately, if he is 17. If there is any question about what to do, I would contact your council professional who is in charge of advancement (I assume all councils have this, in our council it is one of the DE's (not for our district) who also has responsibility for advancement), and/or the council advancement chair. (You could try the district advancement chair but I am pretty sure they would have to kick up upstairs to the council chair.)

 

Depending on how close the Scout is to his 18th birthday, he may not need more time. He may just need some modification (or maybe just an interpretation) of the leadership requirement that is part of the project requirement. Maybe he needs to be able to give instructions to his "labor force" in handwritten or typewritten form, or using computers, smartphones, etc. Obviously it depends on the project. There are projects, and ways to do projects, that could be geared toward an Eagle candidate with speech difficulties.

 

As an aside, you shouldn't have to "sway" the Scoutmaster. The advancement program accommodates young men with special needs. It's right there in the book.

 

Just out of curiosity, has this Scout fulfilled a position of responsibility for 6 months since becoming Life? Or is in the process of doing so, before his 18th birthday?

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@@NJCubScouter nailed it. The leaders make accommodations for such scouts. The fac the kid has stuck with it so long shows great leadership in my opinion. Look to his Downs peers and see how they look at him. Don't use non-Downs kids as a comparison.

 

Use the GTA section quoted above. Best guidance. In short they should be helping him to succeed.

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This often where adults go off the rails. (And one of the reasons why I think if they had opportunity to earn the same ranks the boys did, they'd wise up.)

 

Leadership does not come from positions of responsibility.

Leadership comes from the service project requirement.

 

Does Tom ask his fellow scouts to help? Does he get them to sing his favorite song? Does he make them feel welcome? If so he's leading. And he should do so again through his service project.

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The other thread was mistitled.  Instead of "Scouting Would Be So Much Better Without The Parents" it should read "Scouting Would Be So Much Better Without The Adults"

 

I doubt many of his fellow scouts have any trouble seeing their troopmate as "Eagle Material."

Edited by T2Eagle

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The ones that seem most possessive or protective of the Eagle "brand" are usually those who don't wear it.

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Age is irrelevant for this scout.  He can take as long as he wants to get his Eagle.  The 18 year old requirement of drop dead date does not apply.

 

I had a scout (34 years old) who was in my troop and all he needed was 2 MB's and his project.  He was well liked by the boys and I was working with him on getting his requirements filled.  It was just going to take time for this scout.

 

If adults are standing in is way keeping him from advancing thinking this is going to go away when he is 18 is sorely mistaken.  He needs an advocate NOW!

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Thanks for all the responses!  I called our Council office, and they don't have an "expert" on scouts with disabilities, but will send me some information.  I had heard of cases where disabled scouts were able to earn Eagle after age 18, but I haven't been able to find anything from BSA that states that.  Tom will be disappointed if his project gets delayed past his 18th birthday, but I'm glad that he can get more time, if needed.

 

I have been an unofficial advocate for Tom ever since I first learned that he would be joining our troop.  His parents have asked me to be his interpreter/advocate for his Eagle Board of Review, which I am glad to do. 

 

"Tom" has held a position of responsibility ever since he achieved First Class, and his favorite position is Chaplain's Aide.  He is awesome at that position!  I hadn't thought of some of the ideas mentioned, for showing leadership.  Tom is very friendly and definitely shows the most scout spirit of anyone in our troop. 

 

Hopefully I can help the other leaders understand that Tom IS capable and deserving of Eagle.  When I last spoke with the SM, I said, "I hope we aren't holding Tom to a higher standard than our other scouts."  That earned me a very surprised look!   The hesitant leaders are nitpicking everything about Tom's project, in a way that wasn't done with our "normal" scouts. I think they feel they need to be cautious so they aren't seen as "giving" the award just because Tom has a disability.  Unfortunately, they seem to be going too far in the other direction.....  

 

I do have more hope, now, so thank you for all the advice!

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I do have more hope, now, so thank you for all the advice!

 

You might want to read this to your leaders (paretheticals for explanation): A Scout (Leader) is trustworthy (in that scouts can trust them to do the right thing), loyal (to scouts that are loyal to their troop), helpful (especially to those that need some help), friendly (a friend is there when you need them), courteous (means doing something above and beyond what you have to do), kind (that should speak for itself), obedient (and follow BSA rules), cheerful (that means cheerful in fulfilling the rest of the oath), thrifty (don't waste time being unscout like), brave (do what is right, no matter what people think), clean and reverent (every child is a gift from God).

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@@funscout ,it's a little weird getting hope from some strangers on the Internet. Just sayin...

 

It sounds like Tom sees that 18th birthday as something important so let's just think of him as the regular scout who he is and set him up for success.

He should identify one project advisor. There don't need to be a lot of adults hemming and hawing over every detail. Just one adult who knows the boy, knows about projects of the type he wants to do, and knows the volunteers who may contribute to the project. Tom writes a decent proposal (yes he'll need help, but most kids with this disability who I've met actually are able to conceptualize what they want ... The communication is just slower), and if it's a good plan well within his reach, the advisor, SM, and district advancement chair approve it.

 

The rest of it is coaching Tom in asking for help to get it done. Sounds like his position of responsibility has given him practice in doing just that.

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Tom writes a decent proposal (yes he'll need help, but most kids with this disability who I've met actually are able to conceptualize what they want ... The communication is just slower), and if it's a good plan well within his reach, the advisor, SM, and district advancement chair approve it.

Sounds like every scout I've worked with, disability or not.

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