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mrkstvns

Units for disabled youth

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Most of the scouts who have disabilities who I've met have been members of typical community-based units.  I know of one troop in the Houston area that promotes itself as supporting kids with physical or developmental disabilities.  Now I see a troop in the Baltimore area with a similar membership base (https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/harford/aegis/cng-ag-xcomm-shucks-free-library-0717-20190717-vgrs34wclvav7o5tgxr7lcpn3y-story.html).

Are such units common in scouting?

What do you think is better for the individual scout?  A unit where the scouts and parents are most capable of understanding and handling issues that such scouts face?  Or is it better for the scout to be "mainstreamed" in a typical unit?  

Thoughts?

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I'm to the thinking that what suits the scout is best for them.  I was a scout in a troop with a wheelchair bound scout.  We all learned to oversee it, cut him no slack, and he felt no different.  It worked for us.  I was a SM in a troop with one boy with cerebral palsy.  Same thing. 

Probably a bad comparison and not to offend, but I would rather have those scouts in my unit rather than a bed wetter no one wants to share a tent with.  That wetting problem seems to be harder than any physical challenge. 

I think it depends also on the adults and how the unit can cope with a variety, multiple, or extreme cases.  They are trained, equipped, and mentally prepared to handle the situations.  I see the benefit of both.  Let the scout and parents decide, but keep the option available.

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I'm in a troop with a scout with cerebral palsy. His mother and he chose our troop over many others for a variety of reasons. If you ask her why it's because she knows what he is capable of and that he tries to skate by on (and she makes sure he doesn't skate by on anything he can do). They want to make sure he has as much real world exposure as possible and work on the modifications to the scout program with support of the council. They visited a lot of troops, some they decided against for their own reasons. Others because the troop stated they weren't able to handle a scout with cerebral palsy. (Not shaming/blaming them, they may have good reasons for it.)

Other parents want troops that have more experience with and more connections with others who have disabilities. Like Double Eagle stated, it's all in how you want to experience scouting. 

Frankly, I'm absolutely honored that he is one of our scouts. He's pretty damn awesome! 

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1 hour ago, mrkstvns said:

What do you think is better for the individual scout?  A unit where the scouts and parents are most capable of understanding and handling issues that such scouts face?  Or is it better for the scout to be "mainstreamed" in a typical unit?  

Depends on the scout, the unit, and the parents.  My son has autism but was in a community unit.  We did BWCAW and Jamboree together.  I was there for the support/expertise when required.  My district also has a unit specifically for kids who are more profoundly affected by their autism or have other special needs who aren't as easily accommodated in a community unit.  

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29 minutes ago, Buggie said:

I'm in a troop with a scout with cerebral palsy. His mother and he chose our troop over many others for a variety of reasons. If you ask her why it's because she knows what he is capable of and that he tries to skate by on (and she makes sure he doesn't skate by on anything he can do). They want to make sure he has as much real world exposure as possible and work on the modifications to the scout program with support of the council. They visited a lot of troops, some they decided against for their own reasons. Others because the troop stated they weren't able to handle a scout with cerebral palsy. (Not shaming/blaming them, they may have good reasons for it.)

Other parents want troops that have more experience with and more connections with others who have disabilities. Like Double Eagle stated, it's all in how you want to experience scouting. 

Frankly, I'm absolutely honored that he is one of our scouts. He's pretty damn awesome! 

One of our first Eagles was a deaf scout. Good kid, but because he was born deaf, he was a bit spoiled by his parents and he learned how to "skirt" responsibilities. He had one bad habit of  teasing other kids. Nothing mean, just seeking attention with negative attention. I remember he was brought to me for once such incident and all of a sudden he couldn't read my lips. When I called him on it, his eyes looked as if he'd seen a ghost. We didn't have much trouble after that. I told his dad about it and he had no response. 

But, I notice adults can be a bit proud about handicapped scouts as well. I called our District Eagle Chair the day before this same scout's scout EBOR. All I wanted to tell him was make sure each board member looks strait at the scouts so he can see your lips. But before I could get that far, the chair cut me off and lectured that all candidates are treaty fairly. He cut me off a couple times. So, ok. Sure enough when the scout gave a great answer that had nothing to do with the question, the members of the board froze for a moment because they realized they didn't know how to talk to him. In reality, his he EBOR was over at that point because all the members just fumbled around telling the scout the expectations of an Eagle. They didn't dare ask anymore questions. LOL. 

Handicapped scouts are a challenge today because there are so many types of behaviors considered handicaps. Even cerebral palsy has different stages that would require different skills. I don't know why, but our troop seemed to attract a lot of challenged scouts. We learned that success is very dependent on the parents. Oh the troop has to be open minded working with handicapped scouts in a patrol method program, but if the parents are helping, the effort is a lot less challenging. 

Barry

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Seen a few such units. Met the scouts/venturers. They were impressive. Their leaders are gems.

Troops devoted to scouts with disabilities have a lot of advantages. Everyone learns the rules for alternative requirements for advancement, so they can better help scouts get the most out of the program. If learning disabilities are the issue scouts may take decades to make rank. The challenge is volunteers. Not everyone is cut out for this sort of thing. And even helping one individual can be a very long game. Expectations change drastically. What's trivial for your scouts is high adventure, and potentially perilous, for these scouts. So, goals and methods have to be drastically adjusted.

Still, if a scout can flourish among scouts with no obvious disabilities, I would suggest joining a troop with normal abilities. It's a tremendous growth opportunity for all involved. However, I'm not whitewash: the troop's program will change. That's not always a bad thing. But for those who want high adventure at all times, they will be making major attitude adjustments.

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My council has a disabilities troop. The young men in that troop are mostly Down's Syndrome and other mental disabilities. The troop has turned out quite a few Eagle Scouts over the years. Some of these gentlemen were in there 30's or 40's when they finally finished up Eagle. The troop goes camping, to summer camp and works on community service projects. They are a really neat group with some of the most dedicated scouters I have ever met. What really impressed me with this group was watching a scout in his 30's guide a younger guy maybe 20 something thru an activity on a community service project. The older gentleman had done this project dozens of time in the past and he remembered how to do it and taught a younger man how to do it. True boy/man led scouting.  The troop leadership pushes each scout to achieve his maximum, some make it thru Eagle, some only make Scout after years in the program.

Unfortunately, the leadership for this troop is aging. Most of them are in their 60's or older. There doesn't seem to be any younger adults stepping up and stepping in. I fear this remarkable group will end soon without new blood. A sad thought.

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"Opportunities Inc. and the Boy Scouts of America Caddo Area Council (TX) are working together to start scouting troops for children and adults with disabilities. One of the troops will be for adult males, one for adult females and another for children and one restricted for children in kindergarten through second grade."

http://www.texarkanagazette.com/news/texarkana/story/2019/jul/29/boy-scouts-council-create-troops-those-disabilities/788467/

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I work with middle schoolers with "moderate to severe" disabilities in a special ed classroom. We have a few kids in my class that I think would enjoy and benefit from Scouting, but I think they'd benefit the most from *at least* a dedicated patrol, if not a dedicated Troop, with a lot of extra adult support in addition to peer support. Most of these kids are non-verbal or minimally verbal and have significant physical and cognitive challenges. Some are too disabled to benefit from a Scouting program to be honest, but many are not. 

I wish I could figure out a way to make it happen for them. Unfortunately I'm only one person. The wheels are turning though. If I can find a way to do it... 

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