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UncleP

Spoke with Scoutmaster - Think It Helped

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I took the advise I was given and emailed my Nephew's Scoutmaster.  I explained to him my nephew's situation, and pointed out some pitfall that occur with him.  The main one being to overestimate him.  In school because he is a good student and mature, they are always trying to use him to tutor another kid, or so other duty.  The results are always the same - disaster.  With each disaster he becomes that much more misanthropic. 

 

I acknowledged that my nephew has to meet the same requirements as everybody else, but asked him not to push him too hard on the social items.  I thought that just sticking with something, getting out of his room, and maybe having a little fun was all that mattered.  That he would never be a "Normal Rockwell" type of scout, but that he would never be a burden.

 

The scoutmaster replied, and said that he had already noted some of the things I told him.  He said he never seen anyone so little people skills. He said that even after just a couple of months his relationship with the rest of his patrol is so bad, that for all practical purposes he is not really a member of it. My nephew's scoutmaster said that he would take into account my nephew's situation. 

 

The scouting experience so far has been a mixture of good and bad for my nephew.  He loves he camping, hiking and biking (as well as just getting outside an being able to move around).  However he finds the troop meetings and being part of a patrol to be almost more than he can stand.  When I pick him up after troop meetings, he looks like he has been ill. 

 

I made my nephew promise me that he would stay with scouting until at least he got to First Class rank.  In the meantime, I am trying to get him to concentrate on the positive parts of scouting, so that it will keep his spirit up. 

 

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UncleP, thanks for the update.   I know it's difficult for the time being, but things are bound to get better.    Your insights and support are invaluable.  

Edited by desertrat77

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Given time, he'll figure it out.  He's smart and it will take only one or two boys to break the ice with him and then maybe things will start to normalize.  He won't be the center of attention, but maybe some of the fear will subside.

 

You're on the right path and it sounds like you're doing everything correctly for him.  Even if the scout thing doesn't work out in the long run, he will definitely remember the effort you have put in for him and that will count more than anything else for him.

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Uncle P,

 

The description you're giving of your nephew is of a child who needs professional help, as wonderful as scouting can be, what your nephew needs is even more.  If you can find any way to help him get some counseling, either by intervening yourself or by working through his school please do whatever you can to get him involved with some mental health professional as soon as possible.

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I know you stated in a different thread that your nephew is not on the Spectrum, but from all the traits you've described, I think he might be. You said the dyslexic special education teacher would have mentioned something, but that isn't necessarily the case. Not sure about your state, but in California most school districts try their hardest to not identify the special needs that some kids have because then they are forced to spend a boatload of money and resources to help the child. Especially when it comes to autism. I know of parents who even had to sue the school district to get the help their autistic child needed. Children on the spectrum need special attention. Not everyone is up to that task, especially not a volunteer Boy Scout leader. The challenge becomes trying to educate yourself and others in the troop on how best to understand and deal with your nephew's quirks rather than just labeling him as weird and ostracizing him. Dropping him off at meetings and expecting things to work themselves out is not going to happen. You are going to need to do some research and work with your nephew to improve his social skills. Without outside intervention, these issues aren't going to go away on their own.

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UncleP, thanks for the update.   I know it's difficult for the time being, but things are bound to get better.    Your insights and support are invaluable.  

 

Thank you for your kind words.  I think things will get better, but it is like stitches - as they heal they start to itch.  As we deal with all of this it brings up a lot of "garbage" that we normally do not deal with.  But it is better to deal, with it now rather than later.

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Given time, he'll figure it out.  He's smart and it will take only one or two boys to break the ice with him and then maybe things will start to normalize.  He won't be the center of attention, but maybe some of the fear will subside.

 

You're on the right path and it sounds like you're doing everything correctly for him.  Even if the scout thing doesn't work out in the long run, he will definitely remember the effort you have put in for him and that will count more than anything else for him.

 

Thank you.  You are so right about time.  As long as he keeps at it, he will get there.  If my nephew has any one special talent it is being a hard worker.  I would like him to stick with the scouting until he makes First Class.  He can then decide what he wants to do.  That way he will have given things a fair chance, and if he decides to try something else he will neither be quitting nor failing.  If he thinks he succeeded (at least a little) that ca be something positive he can build on.

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Uncle P,

 

The description you're giving of your nephew is of a child who needs professional help, as wonderful as scouting can be, what your nephew needs is even more.  If you can find any way to help him get some counseling, either by intervening yourself or by working through his school please do whatever you can to get him involved with some mental health professional as soon as possible.

 

Thank you for your suggestion.  At his school's psychologist suggestion he is already seeing a counselor, but it is a long process.  It was the counselor who suggested they try and get him into some outside school activity.  I thought scouting would be a good fit, because he likes animals, the outdoors, and always wanted to see the places other ids were talking about.  Unfortunately, I did not really understanding scouting.  I thought you just went camping and hiking, and that the adults ran everything. 

 

I had never heard of "boy led", "positions of responsibility", or the "patrol method".  So scouting may not be as good a fix as I originally hoped, but I want him to keep trying.  If he quits he will feel bad about for now on.  His counselor still thinks it might be helpful, and at least give him more in common with other boys. 

 

Problems seldom have one cause, and almost never have one solution.  The scouting and the counseling both increase the chance of him improving.  I just think now with all the changes he is getting a little overwhelmed.  I am trying to convince that "less is more", and that the less he tries the more he will accomplish.  If he could just relax, that would be half the battle.  I am starting to think that maybe I am causing some of the problem.  If I show some confidence in him, and take my own advise, I think that would help him to calm down.

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I know you stated in a different thread that your nephew is not on the Spectrum, but from all the traits you've described, I think he might be. You said the dyslexic special education teacher would have mentioned something, but that isn't necessarily the case. Not sure about your state, but in California most school districts try their hardest to not identify the special needs that some kids have because then they are forced to spend a boatload of money and resources to help the child. Especially when it comes to autism. I know of parents who even had to sue the school district to get the help their autistic child needed. Children on the spectrum need special attention. Not everyone is up to that task, especially not a volunteer Boy Scout leader. The challenge becomes trying to educate yourself and others in the troop on how best to understand and deal with your nephew's quirks rather than just labeling him as weird and ostracizing him. Dropping him off at meetings and expecting things to work themselves out is not going to happen. You are going to need to do some research and work with your nephew to improve his social skills. Without outside intervention, these issues aren't going to go away on their own.

 

Than you for your suggestion.  I will look into it further, and see if this could be an issue.  My nephew has excellent verbal and written communications skills, but just does not get much of a chance to use them.  I still think that a great deal of his problems stems from his environment.  It is like growing up in solitary confinement.  You do not develop any social skills, because you are never given a chance to.  I know, because I was brought up pretty much the same way.  It was only when I started working and got kicked around by life that I learned how to work with people.  The world today is a lot rougher than 30 years ago, so I would like for my nephew to learn these things in an easier way. I a trying to teach him some of the things I learned, but I want him to get all the help he can.

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...  It was only when I started working and got kicked around by life that I learned how to work with people.  ...

I guess scouting provides a little "kicking around by life" service to the boys. But, just like soccer balls, the wrong kick will send them out of the game!

 

Learning to work with others is a huge challenge most days. Hopefully he'll come around to reaping the benefits of doing so with his patrol.

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My older boy is *on the spectrum* and socially awkward and ...eventually...was able to show leadership and pick up enough friends (good influences and bad) to make the trip worthwhile. He was pretty quiet at first but eventually won some of the older boys over by tough paddling and hiking. 

 

I agree that in many school systems some of the folks who should be directing you to help (School Psychologists, etc) act more like gate keepers than facilitators. In any case if the boy needs work in an area than Scouts is a good way to find away to work on it.

 

Feeling a little melancholy as son#1 ages out this thursday after 6-1/2 years as a very active Boy Scout. 

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I don't recall your earlier post and I cannot find it through your profile, so I have not idea if I have contributed previously. (Or, for that matter, did not contribute at all.)

 

I just want to add one note. Scouts is not necessarily about advancement. We had a scout who spent 4 or 5 years at second class and never got higher than First Class before he turned 18. He just wasn't interested in advancement. But he loved the rest of the program. He was happy, and that is what counted. As long as he was around, he could still absorb most of the lessons of scouting.

 

I don't know how old your nephew is or what his goals in scouting are. But you might just try letting him pick and choose what he wants to do in scouting for a bit. If he wants to participate in camping and physical activity, that is great. He doesn't have to go to all the meetings, but he needs to go enough to participate in those things. Just don't "make him" go to all the meetings for a while.

 

Perhaps if he just participates in the parts he likes, he might start associating scouting with fun again. And once that happens, he might be able to expand his participation. Also, the camping will be a shared experience with other scouts that may help build some bonds toward friendship.

 

Just a thought.

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With all the kids in the basement doing their electronic games, and/or wandering around the neighborhood with eyes affixed to a glowing screen like a zombie, I wonder if your nephew is really all that far off the Spectrum when it comes to socialization with other youth of that age today.  I'm thinking that one your nephew learns to at least say "Hi" to people he meets, he'll be a major step ahead of a lot of others.

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Remote psychiatric diagnoses are flawed in many ways (as I'm comparing family history reports with actual clinical interviews).

 

The differentiation between Asperger's syndrome and Antisocial Personality is certainly the case. Regardless, the SM is probably no social worker. He just needs how far to adjust the bar for each boy. Then he can read up on how to modify trail to First Class requirements. If a kid is gonna die trying to swim, SM needs to know before they head to the pool. If he's severely dyslexic, SM needs to know before the boy is stuck reading a script for a CoH. If he's colorblind to particular colors, SM needs to find color-substituted maps before sending him and his patrol off on land-navigation. In all those cases, the SM sits with the PL and explains the situation as best he can and makes sure the SPL/PL understands the fine line between helping and embarrassing a scout.

 

This is no different. Don't need a diagnosis. Need to know what hasn't worked, what has worked, and what could be done differently next time. @@UncleP's monthly feedback to the SM provides this ... at least until the boy starts trusting his patrol enough to interact with them.

 

My observation: boys can be pretty flexible, yet firm when necessary, once they understand that someone isn't "wired" like them. Most scouts rise to that challenge. But, they can give up on the first or second overture if they don't get this. The advantage for the other scouts? Once they figure this out with a few "tough ones" they learn that other seemingly normal boys may also need the same kind of persistence in one or more areas of life.

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