Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Exibar

scouts on the autism scale, how much to "bend" merit badge requirements?

Recommended Posts

How does one know a boy can't do a requirement unless he has tried?

Yes, in a way that's sort of what I have been trying to get at. We don't really know whether he has tried. We haven't really been told anything other than that he is on the autism spectrum (which can range, to my knowledge, from barely being able to speak at all, to having only minor difficulties in dealing with other people) and that someone thinks he might need to have requirements "bent" for him to some degree. It may be that the young man has tried, but the general way in which the question is being asked suggests that perhaps he has not. As I said before, the discussion with the Scout (and his parents if necessary) needs to be very specific and there is no indication that this specific discussion (which should include a process of attempting the requirements) has taken place. It is also noteworthy that the Guide to Advancement says that before asking approval for alternative merit badges for Eagle, the Scout must complete those MB's that he can complete - but that alternatives are available only for whole merit badges, not pieces of merit badges. I think that also suggests trying to do something before you say you can't do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to disagree with Fred.  "Do Your Best" is the Cub scout motto.  In Boy Scouting it is "do the requirement"...no more, no less.

 

But the GTA allows for accommodations for scouts with disabilities, so "do the requirement" allows the definition of "requirement" to be changed. There is no uniform definition of what that changed requirement is. That is left to the SM and the MBC.

 

All scouts we have used accommodations for have required only slight modifications. In nearly all cases, they completed 96% of the program the other scouts did. In some cases, the modified requirements were done so painstakingly that it actually exceed what the other scouts have done.

 

Example: One autistic scout was having problems with the basic scout knots. For some reason the half hitch and taughtline were throwing him for a loop. We substituted any other knots he wanted to pick from a book we had (Scout knot book). He learned TEN additional knots: all climbing knots and hitches (Dad said he would not put the book down). Even taught the new scouts the trucker's hitch. ;)

Edited by Krampus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nobody is perfect.  In one way or the other we are all handicapped.  Does that mean we all get to do the MB requirements differently. My handicap is I'm basically lazy, but I earned all 120+ MB's last week.   :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@Exibar  It's really going to be dependent upon the requirement.  Many of the adjustments you hear about for scouts with disabilities is in regards to physical disabilities and not mental disabilities.

 

For example:  A blind scout needs to identify constellations for Astronomy MB.  How does he do it?  How does he normally "see".  If the counselor made cards/posters with braille-like bumps for the stars and positions them above the scout where the constellations would be in the sky, the scout most certainly identify them with his fingers.  This wouldn't be considered adjusting the requirements or bending them.  It's how the scout normally does things and so it should be with the merit badge.

 

If a scout has gone the full route for alternate requirements (and the onus here is on the parent to get this done, with SM support):

Doing every single requirement he can do.

Getting note from the doctor stating the scout's disability, what can be done, what can't be done, etc.

Getting the IEP (Individual education plan, or whatever the school has)

Going through the council advancement committee (or its designated committee to go to)

Then receiving official alternate rank requirements, and or exemption to the under 18 registration requirement, or extended time.

Merit badges are included in this process.  Alternate requirements for merit badges are not given, but alternate merit badges are.  The alternate merit badges may still be difficult, but are achievable by the scout.

 

I've had to do the research because our troop has a scout with a mental capacity of a _4_ year old.  (yes, he still should be in cub scouts, but that's not the issue)

 

So, as every kid on the autism scale is different and every disability is different, it's going to come down to specific examples.  Please give us some and we can better opine.

 

PS: found the link for Alternate Merit Badges:  http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/eaglealt.aspx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"An advancement example is jumping feet 1st into water over your head and swimming 25 feet, it does not say you can't have a flotation device on."

 

Oh, come on, seriously?  I am a former aquatics instructor and WSI certified.  The intent of the requirement is to determine who can SAFELY participate in aquatics activities.  This particular requirement demonstrates that IF a scout falls into the water, he can safely come back to the surface and make it to safety WITHOUT having to wear a PFD all the time. 

 

WHen you start parsing the requirements that affect health and safety, I have to object.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, @@scoutldr, I see your point, but when I took the boys camping by the lake (Webelos II) if they were within 10' of the water they needed their PFD on.  Yes, standing at the shore fishing required a PFD.  I had no idea whether or not these kids could swim, but I knew they all knew how to put on a PFD and wear it.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"An advancement example is jumping feet 1st into water over your head and swimming 25 feet, it does not say you can't have a flotation device on."

 

Oh, come on, seriously?  I am a former aquatics instructor and WSI certified.  The intent of the requirement is to determine who can SAFELY participate in aquatics activities.  This particular requirement demonstrates that IF a scout falls into the water, he can safely come back to the surface and make it to safety WITHOUT having to wear a PFD all the time. 

 

WHen you start parsing the requirements that affect health and safety, I have to object.

 

So if you cannot swim you cannot make Eagle?

 

What about kids in wheel chairs that cannot hike 5 miles?

 

The accommodations exist to allow all boys to participate regardless of handicap.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Scoutldr's concern is with UNIT LEADERS ( emphasis) short cutting the system that can affect health and safety.  Compared to legitimate  physical disabilities with COUNCIL/NATIONAL APPROVED modifications to advancement.

 

@@Krampus ,

 

PLEASE (begging) tell your buddy Saint Nick I've been good, really! Oh and I look forward to watching you in action on December 4th. ;)

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Eagle94-A1.  That's exactly what I meant.  If a scout has special needs that affect his ability to advance, that needs to be brought up to the Council Advancement Committee.  In my own troop, we had a scout who was 16 before he passed the Swimmer's test at camp.  His handicap?  He just "didn't like" the water.  We would not bend and he eventually made it.  Boy was he proud of himself.  He is now an Eagle Scout.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Special needs requirments are addressed through the Scouting Advancement Special Needs Process.  That's explained in the GTA, but I'd call your Council Advancement Adviser (the professional staff person).

 

A counselor, from all my study of the advancement process, IS PERMITTED to apply age/intellect appropriate filters to what he decides meets the standard of the requirement.  I do not expect the explanation of how someone becomes a US citizen from an 11 year old to be as complex as I would reasonably would expect it from a 17 year old.

 

I would not expect a genius and an autistic child to have the same explanations, either.

 

BUT:  ONLY THE NATIONAL COUNCIL can actually modify a requirement.  GTA clearly denies that authority to units, Counselors, District, Council, Area, and Regional Advancement Committees.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've started to reply to this about 100 times.  It's near and dear to my heart as my son is autistic.  Thank you to those who have been more positive in the thread.  I'd like to start by clarifying some language.

 

You shouldn't be looking to bend any rules or make any concessions.  The word you are searching for is accommodation.  Bending rules and making concessions are what weak teachers do when they've given up on a student; accommodations are what talented teachers employ to get the most out of their students regardless of any limitations.  As for fairness, strike this idea from your thinking.  Fairness is what helicopter parents worry about.

 

Mental disability was mentioned in one post.  Autism is not a mental disability, it is a neurological disorder.  Autistic's simply experience the world differently than neuro-typicals, sometimes in ways that are overwhelming.  Sometimes it's combined with other neurological disorders.  The autistic youth, including my son, that have passed through my life are incredibly bright.  They may not understand social queues and peer relationships.  They may find dealing with adults preferable to dealing with youth.  My son tells me adults are more predictable so he appreciates dealing with them rather than his peers.  But they aren't, by default, mentally disabled.  This is a common mistake made by neuro-typicals and is somewhat offensive.

 

Stosh, autism is many things but it's certainly not, and never has been, an excuse.  The poverty rate and unemployment rate for disabled adults is double the national average.  If you look at the underemployment its worse.  It's bad in the autistic community because people assume autistic's are just "making an excuse."  I'm going to assume you just chose your words poorly rather than being simply rude.

 

Now, as far as the question goes, the answer as has been stated is "it depends."  If you know one autistic youth you know one autistic youth.  For example, it took my son several years to break through the water barrier.  We were blessed to have the option to go with swimming lessons from the time he was a Cub Scout until he passed his swim test.  Not everyone is so lucky.  It took years for him to get passed the sensory issue of having water on his face.  Some kids never get through the sensory issues and sensory issues are a real deal.  

 

So, without specifics about the young man, how he is affected and what accommodations work for him in everyday life, it's impossible for any of us to offer any sort of reasonable advice.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So if you cannot swim you cannot make Eagle?

 

What about kids in wheel chairs that cannot hike 5 miles?

It depends on why you "cannot" swim. To make a long story (that I have told before) short, my son "could not" swim when he became a Boy Scout. He tried, and took lessons, but he really "could not" swim. I still don't know exactly why. I believe he barely squeaked by for the Second Class swimming requirement, or maybe he was given a "pass" that he shouldn't have been given. At his third year of summer camp, I guess his physical development had progressed to a point where he was able to pass the First Class swimming requirement (probably not in spectacular fashion) and then a year later he earned the Swimming MB, apparently with flying colors. Most of our Scouts earn Swimming MB at their first summer camp. My son earned it at his fourth, when he "could swim." This issue did delay his making First Class somewhat; I guess he was 14 at the time. But that (at least for First Class and Swimming MB) is the way the system is supposed to work for someone who does not have a permanent disability. He passed when he was able to pass.

 

On the other hand, someone who can NEVER swim, with a doctor attesting to that fact, can make Eagle with alternative MB's if approved by council. As I said before, we had a Scout who was wheelchair-bound with no mobility in his legs and very little in his arms. He was, permanently, unquestionably, unable to swim. He had a doctor's letter that said so, but it was almost superfluous, because his condition was obvious. He did not get Swimming MB and I am fairly certain he did not get Hiking, or Cycling, or Personal Fitness, so he needed at least two substitutes right there. I was on his Eagle BOR but do not remember what the substitute MBs were. The point is, all of the necessary hoops were jumped through, including medical verification and approval by council. It was not a question of informally "bending" requirements. It was a formal (though in this case fairly perfunctory, under the circumstances) process, as it should be when someone is seeking an exception to requirements.

Edited by NJCubScouter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How does one know a boy can't do a requirement unless he has tried? 

 

All this "up front" speculation is rather moot.  This is like cutting him slack before he starts.  I'm with @@scoutldr on this one. 

 

How long is this boy's autism excuse going to hold up in life.  Sooner or later he's going to need to step up to the plate.  Don't take away his opportunity to do better than what society has labeled him.

 

 

 

Stosh, autism is many things but it's certainly not, and never has been, an excuse.  The poverty rate and unemployment rate for disabled adults is double the national average.  If you look at the underemployment its worse.  It's bad in the autistic community because people assume autistic's are just "making an excuse."  I'm going to assume you just chose your words poorly rather than being simply rude.

 

 

So, without specifics about the young man, how he is affected and what accommodations work for him in everyday life, it's impossible for any of us to offer any sort of reasonable advice.  

 

@@walk in the woods

 

My son is ADHD and suffers from severe depression.  He was given every opportunity to work it through in the high school special education section, extensive outside therapy, and everything we could think of to help him get over his "poor me" attitude.  He has now cut himself off from all his friends, family, and maintains a relationship only with his daughter.  I haven't seen him for at least 10 years and the last I heard he is still living in the same city as I do.  He can't hold down a job and the last I heard he was trying to get Social Security Disability.  

 

"How long is this boy's autism excuse going to hold up in life.  Sooner or later he's going to need to step up to the plate.  Don't take away his opportunity to do better than what society has labeled him."  Well, he chose to not step up to the plate and instead chose to keep his ADHD excuse.  It has cost him everything.  Well according to him the whole world is stupid and he's the only sane one in the bunch.

 

Well, if one wishes to assume I'm rude, so be it.  I just hope I'm rude enough that people challenge others no matter what their physical, mental, or emotional disabilities to be better than what society labels them.  I believe Scouting is an excellent program to be able to do that.  Over the years I have had autistic, ADD, ADHD, depressed and mentally retarded in my troop.  For all those PC people who just sucked all the air out of the room, I use the word retarded rather than challenged.  Retarded means slowed down.  Challenged means there's an obstacle in the way that they have to work through.  My 34 year old Life Scout was working on his Eagle Project and it was taking him a bit more time than everyone else.  He functioned at a 10-12 year old level.  Well, he was slowly making progress and I made sure that in my unit the opportunity for that progress would not be impeded with any challenges. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×