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Exibar

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

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How much do you folks bend the merit badge requirements for those boys that are on the autism scale? 

Do you not bend them at all and hold these boys to the same exacting standard as all the other boys?

If you do bend the requirements, how is that fair to those other boys that followed the "as is" requirements?  Does this even matter?

 

there are alternate rank advancements, but there aren't any alternate requirements for Merit Badges.....  leaving this up to "scoutmaster discretion" isn't exactly easy or kind on the Scoutmaster...

 

looking for input, thanks all!

   Mike B

Edited by Exibar

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It's not up to the SM, it's up to the counselor. However, if you are asking for some leniency in the requirements because the scout will never be mentally or physically capable of passing a requirement, then contact the District Commissioner and ask for some guidance. They always came through for us. You want these kinds of decisions made by higher official levels so it doesn't come to bite you at the Eagle review.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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@@Exibar, Section 10.2.0.0 (Advancement Flexibility Allowed) in the GTA spells it out. Just like everything we do in Scouting we should have the boy strive to reach beyond his grasp. Our unit usually meets with the parents to determine how we are going to proceed for each rank. We set goals and boundaries, identify how we will evaluate the scout and move forward. We remain flexible.

 

We will have another scout with autism get his Eagle this spring. We only made a few accommodations for him during his 7 years in the troop. I will stack him up against any Eagle I know. 

Edited by Krampus

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Exibar, can you give an example or two of a requirement that might need to be "bent", and how you would suggest it could be "bent." It is not clear from your post whether you are asking about excusing the Scout from certain requirements or just interpreting them differently.

 

As Eagledad said, this is not within the SM's discretion, it is in the counselor's discretion, but only up to a point. That point is that the Scout must still pass each requirement. The counselor has the discretion to determine whether the Scout has passed the requirement, but may not excuse passage of the requirement. It is my understanding (though I could be wrong) that nobody - not council and not National - will excuse the passage of a requirement. (As I said, I could be wrong - there may be instances in which National will waive an MB requirement but I have never heard of it happening.) What CAN be requested of council is the substitution of one merit badge for another if the Scout cannot pass the required badge due to a documented disability. We had a Scout who was wheelchair-bound with no use of his legs and very limited use of his arms. He made Eagle. He could not swim, hike or cycle, so there must have been some substitute merit badge approved for that one. There were parts of Personal Fitness he could not do, so I am sure there was another substitution there. There were some substitute requirements for the lower ranks as well. For example, there is no way he could hike 5 miles (or 5 feet) for Second Class but I am sure something was set up where he "traveled" a certain distance. Obviously the situation is different from the one you ask about, but the fact that council must be involved in any changes is the same.

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thanks for the quick replies!

 

 Yes, I agree it's up to the MB counselor and not the SM....  however, how many consessions can be made before "too much is too much"...   I suppose it's simply a matter of the MBC accepting the "spirit of the requirement" for the Merity Badge...  as long as that is met in the eyes of the MBC, the scout has earned it...

 

Ranks advancements are nto in question here, just MB requirements...   I'll have to re-read the GTA as well...

Edited by Exibar

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After browsing in the Guide to Advancement a bit, I would suggest sections 10.2.2.0 and 10.2.2.3 as the most directly relevant provisions. I think the first one gives some indication of how much things can be "bent", which is to say, not much. "Explain" means explain, "demonstrate" means demonstrate, and so on. But there are explanations and then there are explanations. The second section I mention makes clear that individual requirements in MB's cannot be waived. One MB may be substituted for another, but you have to go through the procedures first.

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My understanding was that any deviation from requirements due to medical reasons had to be approved by the Council Advancement Committee who would agree on an "alternate" set of requirements with the unit leaders and parents.  Many times, I have had cases where the parents (and scout) wanted a "pass" on certain requirements and when push came to shove, the scout was able to complete it as written with extra effort and perseverance.  Believe me, you would not have seen a prouder scout when he finally achieved the goal.

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No deviation at all unless it is for someone at the severe end of the spectrum and it has been vetted through Council first - The Troop won't make the changes but we'll work with th boy, his parents, and the Merit Badge Counselor to move things through Council.

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I think the first question that needs to be answered by a Scout in this situation (and those advising him) is: What requirement(s), for what merit badge, can I NOT do because of my disability? It can't just be that the requirement is more difficult than it would be for other Scouts. I think the point of the GTA is that you have to do it anyway. So it's not an issue of "bending" or "relaxing" requirements in general. Is there anything that this particular Scout CANNOT do, and if so, what is it, and will a medical professional back that up? If the answers to those questions are all yes for one or more merit badges, then you move on to the next steps in the process. If not, then the Scout needs to pass all the requirements. Now, this does not necessarily mean that every Scout will do exactly the same thing to pass any particular requirement. There are Scouts who go "above and beyond" and those that don't. I think sometimes the Scouts who do go "above and beyond" impress the leaders and counselors so much that "above and beyond" becomes the "standard." At least, it is what we would "like" the Scouts to be able to do. But what we would like them to do, or hope they can do, is not necessarily what the requirement actually says. If they do what the requirement says, they pass. If the requirement says "explain", one Scout may give a lengthy explanation and one might give a brief explanation. One might be articulate and organized in his explanation, the other might not. The Scouts are not supposed to be measured against each other in passing merit badge requirements, or at least that is my understanding. Did the Scout "explain" what he was supposed to explain? If so, he met that requirement.

Edited by NJCubScouter
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As much as I hate Krampus's icon, he has the right view.  

 

It less about disability and more about capability.  We expect the scout to make an effort and to hopefully stretch.  In another words, all things are not equal.  What we may accept from an eleven year old scout is different than what I would expect from a seventeen year old and this is absolutely reasonable.  The whole purpose of the advancement program is to get the scout to grow.  Each scout starts at a different place and reaches a different place at the end.  

 

So, when it says discuss, explain, demonstrate, etc, ... IMHO, .... --> .... all things are not equal. 

 

A good example is anything that includes writing.  I expect a better job done by a seventeen year old scout than an eleven year old scout.  Each to his ability.

 

Now if some requirements can't be done at all because of a medical issue, then pursue an exception.  Otherwise, work to the potential ability of the scout. 

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As much as I hate Krampus's icon, he has the right view.  

 

 

Again with icon hate? What's with you guys? The people complaining are so darn liberal about other peoples' feelings and rights, yet when someone has an icon (of all things) that is based on a cultural icon (pardon the pun) based on centuries of cultural practice it begs offense from these same people? C'Mon!

 

You don't see me (or others) saying one word about anybody else's icon for Pete's sake. Give it a rest.

Edited by Krampus
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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.

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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.

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I agree with Stosh.  Scouting provides an opportunity to experience success.  These kids get tossed aside all the time.  They try hard to keep up (they just want to be 'normal,' and that's hard work for them).  They experience failure and rejection every day.  Scouting provides a safe place to fail and try again (if the unit plays the game the way it should be played).  With guidance and reassurance, they will gain confidence, security, and comfort.  Give them a chance.  They're just wired a little differently, but they can still get the job done.  Plenty of room for growth, and self-improvement for all of us. 

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Exibar, can you give an example or two of a requirement that might need to be "bent", and how you would suggest it could be "bent." It is not clear from your post whether you are asking about excusing the Scout from certain requirements or just interpreting them differently.

 

As Eagledad said, this is not within the SM's discretion, it is in the counselor's discretion, but only up to a point. That point is that the Scout must still pass each requirement. The counselor has the discretion to determine whether the Scout has passed the requirement, but may not excuse passage of the requirement. It is my understanding (though I could be wrong) that nobody - not council and not National - will excuse the passage of a requirement. (As I said, I could be wrong - there may be instances in which National will waive an MB requirement but I have never heard of it happening.) What CAN be requested of council is the substitution of one merit badge for another if the Scout cannot pass the required badge due to a documented disability. We had a Scout who was wheelchair-bound with no use of his legs and very limited use of his arms. He made Eagle. He could not swim, hike or cycle, so there must have been some substitute merit badge approved for that one. There were parts of Personal Fitness he could not do, so I am sure there was another substitution there. There were some substitute requirements for the lower ranks as well. For example, there is no way he could hike 5 miles (or 5 feet) for Second Class but I am sure something was set up where he "traveled" a certain distance. Obviously the situation is different from the one you ask about, but the fact that council must be involved in any changes is the same.

On the Hiking Merit Badge there is actually no mention of walking with your legs, so letter of the MB would allow someone with a wheelchair to complete the Hiking Merit Badge. It's all in how the requirements are worded. 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.

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