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Disclosure and Special Needs

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Yes, Vicki, it does surprise me, but I guess it shouldn't. I know several parents who didn't talk with the SM/ASM about problems until it was time to leave on a trip. That knowledge would have made a huge difference in the meetings, also. I'm just surprised that the info isn't on their medical forms. To me, those parents are really hurting their child. We can all imagine the consequences of this in regards to the troop, too. :-(

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  • 4 weeks later...

OK, since we seem to be discussing horror stories. Summer camp two weeks ago new scout attending. Mom had told me his history she's a state SW so adopted the lad who had been abused as a youth. As a result he has some developemental delays ("2nd grade reading level" I disagree I doubt he can read period) ADHD etc. We're packing up and she hads me his daily meds to which she informs me "make sure he takes it in the morning or your won't be able to live with him." Now being a nurse by trade I know something of ADHD and can certainly give the lad his meds on time and did. However, I'd hate to see him off meds. The poor guy was into everything, couldn't be quite if his life depended on it. Mom also gave me an additional over the counter antihisitmine saying "give this to him before bed he sometimes has accidents"


Gave the med nightly the lad denied any difficulties. On Thurday mid day his tent mate let us know "man there's something dead under our tent." Having already spoken to our special needs lad and having his assurance that all was dry in his world. I figured they had left their wet swim suits in there tents (remnants of hurricane Dennis were camped out with us as well all week) and they were starting to mildew. Since we had a brief break in the rain I asked them both to get their suits and hang them on the line. Well to cut to chase we discovered that our littl special needs lad had been wetting the bed all week and when we checked further all his clothes were equally reaking and wet too with both stool and urine.


He denied it and so I was left with the delema of a wet lad with no clothes and a potential health risk to the tent mate. I called the special needs lad mom to get her to bring some clothes or consult but guess what. She was on vacation for the week but yet couldn't attend with the lad when I asked her to assit him during the week. We took the lad to showers and made him shower and tried to find something not as soiled for him to wear. One of the ASM's took the boys clothes to the laundramat in town and bought him a sleeping bag Thursday that he managed to soil overnight as well despite my having him void prior to bed.


Upon return I spoke with mom that I really didn't appreciate not being made aware of her boys problem that put another boy at a health risk. She agreed that from now on her son would reguire his own personal tent (as I can't see using a Troop tent that others may use on camp outs that her son will soil). The CC suggested that a parent be required to attend to provide personnel care for the lad since none of the Troop leaders can or should be cleaning the lad up.

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The spectrum of physical and mental disabilities is broad, yet none of these permanet disabilities should prevent the scout from being a participating member of a scouting unit. The opportunities to develop alternative requirements is limited only by the imagination. In 1995, alternate requirements for Tenedrfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks were established.These requirements can be found in the "Scouting for Youth with Physical Disabilities"(#33057C), "Scouting for Youth with Learning Disabilities"(#33065A), "Advancement Committee Policies & Procedures"(#33088C), and "Boy Scout Requirements"(Y2K)(#33215C/D).


The basic premise of Scouting for youth with disabilities is that they want most to participate like other youth, and Scouting gives them that opportunity.To STRESSES the Scouts abilities rather than disabilities, through Scouting flexibilities and range of choice. Each boy is expected to do his best!


It starts first with the Parnets or guardians of the scout,then the Troop Committee, then the District, and the Council to register the boy as a special needs youth.

From there, the Troop, leadership along with the parnets/guardens need to decide how best to meet the needs of the scout. If this means that one of the parents is required to be present with the scout at camp or activlty. Knowledge of any scout, within the troop should be well noted by all in charge from the scout patrol to the adults, without said knowledge anything can happen.( peanuts, bees, non-swimmer).


If the Troop leadership expects that there is a problem, in which there is no discloser on medical forms etc... it still the leadership responsibillty. to question emotional/behaviorial aspects of the scout. What it takes to find source of the problem now will allow the handling of the situations in the further so that all scouts can enjoy the program. Be Prepared

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  • 3 months later...

I've got some feelings on this.


First, as for the scout who went through NYLT after just being taken off the med that helped him through school - THAT IS STUPID (just a little rant - I've also seen it before with psychiatric medications - can be a real disaster)


From my perspective as a "medical type" - I've got a BIG problem with scouts being on medications, and WHY, and it not being on their Medical form, same as having a medical condition and it not being mentioned. I need to be able to look at the form to get information to treat a scout having a medical issue, and I will pass that information along to any other healthcare provider treating the scout (Ambulance crew, ER staff, etc.). This can be VERY important to know, even if just "later down the line." For example - it sounds like the one scout was getting *Benadryl* every night. What if he gets stung by a bee? How much has he had recently, and what is the max dose??? this could be a problem.


Also, the scout leaders (at least the SM and 1st ASM) need to know about any medical "conditions" that might present, and have spoken with parents of the "problem" scouts, to try to work out what ways to help the scout with his ADD, ODD, Autism, Depression, Bipolar or whatever the issue is. Many of these scouts can be intergrated in the troop with very little trouble, if it is determined ahead of time as to "what works."


My $.02





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We have two special needs Scouts in our troop. They have participated in nearly all activities and campouts since joining. Scout #1, the mother signed up, telling us he was "slow" but giving no real information on exactly what his limitations are. The second Scout was signed up by an ASM without ever meeting a parent. After discipline problems arose we were told that Scout #2 is "special ed" by the person he rides to meetings with. Neither Scout lists any limitations or medication on their medical forms.

Neither Scout has a father in the picture. Both mothers have told us they "don't have time" to help their son with scouting. Which is most likely true. Now granted, these boys probably need the program worse than most... but where do you draw the line? We are after all, as someone else stated, volunteers.

The first Scout was recently not allowed to go on a very challenging backpacking trip because it was judged that he was ill equipped. He asked the instructor during a prep meeting, "will we be walking?", which gives you an idea of his understanding. When details were explained to his Mother, she was very agreeable to his not going.

However other parents & leaders think it is unfair to restrict these boys in any way. Guess which adults were not going on the trip? Interestingly enough, the ones who are the most vocal are totally unwilling to camp or help with activities. I can't imagine telling the SM he has to accommodate all boys, but expecting the responsibility for their care to fall only on him. He is one person!

We have recently had trouble with a renagade ASM signing in place of the SM on various paperwork, including Scout applications. The SM would have had the opportunity to address the issues with the mothers of these boys, had he reviewed & signed their applications, as is customary. As it is, neither mom "has time" to come in for a chat after the fact. In our troop 3/4 of the Scouts are not living with a father. Several have no mother in the picture. I know, sadly this is our world today... Most parents want to drop their boy off and only come around if there is a problem. It's very difficult to find good leaders who will commit.

I would like to think in a perfect Scout world that there is time, personel, and energy to deal with the myriad of issues that are dumped on the meeting place doorstep. But the reality is that the SM and other leaders are their to make the experience a good one for the entire troop. When I hear a story like SMT376 from KY tells, it makes me want to pick up & go home. Many times we ARE called on to do what the family is unwilling to do. Most scout leaders that I have seen are ill equipped to help these Scouts or their families beyond basics. Many leaders are just downright unwilling. And as one person above noted, we only have them 1 1/2 hours a week.

Now, before everyone sends hate mail... I am not saying that we should not allow these special needs Scouts to participate. But our leaders have been told time and again that they CANNOT limit any boy's participation. They have been told that if an activity isn't appropriate for all-no one goes. To me that just isn't good sense. You have to be able to make a judgement about the safety and well being of ALL Scouts in the Troop.

I get tired of the do-gooders in the group dumping the responsibilty on the few good leaders we have mananged to keep around. Don't they realize that these good men will soon burn out without support and assistance from the rest? How much do you realistically ask a volunteer to do? Just being totally honest here.

OK, I'm ready to take my lashes...



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As a SM who has had to deal with a non-disclosed special needs Scout on a winter backcountry trip, I say that you should pay no attention to the opinions of "leaders" or parents who are not willing to go into the backcountry and take actual responsibility (and liability) for the health and safety of the Scouts.


In my case, we narrowly avoided hypothermia claiming the special needs Scout. We should have been told that there was a specific medical problem (Aspergers) and that the Scout wasn't being difficult, but that he could not take care of himself in a snowfield at altitude without nearly constant adult intervension.


As to the everyone goes or noone goes philosophy, I think that it would rapidly lead to the end of the Troop. Not everyone can physically do everything. However, everyone should be able to have some level of participation.

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  • 1 month later...

As a mother of 2 special needs scouts & a DL, WL, TCM, and whatever other minor hats I wear in the Pack/Troop with special needs, it doesn't surprise me that some parents don't report issues, but it does frustrate me.


Unfortuantely, the coin does have 2 sides....I am extremely frustrated that after disclosing my eldest's disability, including detailed ways to minimize problems, and explicit directions to deal with melt-downs, the powers that be in our troop continue to ignore these suggestions. The very "boy led" troop's answer is, you or your dh will just have to stay with him at all meetings or activities. The other scouts continue to ignore the hints, tips, suggestions, directions, rules etc. for dealing with his disability. It's almost as if they HOPE he'll drop out.

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