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Any advice on how to cope with a scout with severe ADHD? I have one in my troop right now. He's not a bad kid, very bright but also very disruptive to the other scouts. He disrupts MB classes and can't sit still or pay attention during any activity. His patrol mates don't like to share a tent with him because he never settles down. He acts very immature relative to his 12 year old classmates. Fortunately he's not aggressive, at least for now.


His parents are aware of the problem and his mom gives me his medication to give him on each trip, problem is it wears off by evening, and then he's tough to handle.


I don't want to prevent him from being part of our unit, but I don't really know how to control him. His dad comes when he can, but the guy works nights and many weekends, so he can't be there often.


I have empathy for the kid because my own son is an ADD adult. But he made Eagle and I think this other boy can too. Suggestions?

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Ask him parents if he can take a small dosage of his medicine in the late afternoon to help the evening be better. They will need to talk to their doctor. The doctor may have other suggestions, possibly an additional medication for the evenings to help him settle down and sleep.


It's hard for all kids due to the excitement and high activity of camping. Also, talk to the boy about suggestions he might have of ways to settle down. Some ADHD kids do read a lot, maybe some night time reading will help him. Some time without all the external stimulation.


Good luck and hang in there.


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BTGTTS. One son is ADHD, the other a different focussing problem. AT one point I had 3 in my girl scout troop at once.


See http://www.borntoexplore.org/plab/plab.html for a different take on his "problem." Or ask Google for ADHD and Project Lab, you'll find it.


You wrote: "I don't want to prevent him from being part of our unit, but I don't really know how to control him."


BRAVO! for not wanting to just boot him out. All too many would, to the detriment of both the child and the troop. The second part of your sentence explains to me both what your difficulty is and allows me to offer a suggested approach as to how to address it.


The GOAL, I think is not for YOU to control him but for him to learn how to control HIMSELF. Do you agree with this? If yes, here's how:


1) Accept what is. You already know the most important thing: he's not a bad kid. He doesn't mean to be this way, he just IS. ADHD is a gift in certain settings but often those who have it would rather not, especially if they are trapped in school where it is a horrible liability causing them to have failure experiences virtually every day - even those that are controlled enough to do pretty well get in trouble constantly.


2) The stakes are high. If we as a society lose them, these kids can rebel in fast cars, fast women, run aways, drugs and alcohol. At 12, your scout is right at the decision point - good company or bad? Let's help him and his family go the right way!


3) If you try to apply external control to a "normal" adolescent, he'll fight you, but eventually settle down, usually. With an ADHD adolescent, efforts to apply external control ("Boy, you'll do what I say because I'm bigger and I said so...") will set up a fight that literally can be to the death. Their death.


There is a better way, and it does not involve the destruction of your sanity, his sanity, or the troop. Here it is:


a) Become his ally in in his fight to control himself. In a private consultation (don't forget YPP of course) tell him you understand how hard it is for him to wait, be still, not talk out of turn. Talk to him about how HE thinks the other kids see him. You'll probably find out he knows that they are aggravated with him. Tell him you are here to help him know when he's getting out of hand, so that the other kids will like him better.


b) Set up a private code by which you can signal him -without advertising to the rest of the troop - that he's getting annoying and needs to review his behavior. One word for "hey, you're getting a little out of hand, calm down..." and one for "WAY out of line, you better do some apologizing to someone" but just single words, quietly delivered. Tell him that if he ever doesn't understand why you signaled him he can ask for a private explanation.


c) If he gets past your second word for annoying, he automatically leaves the meeting and goes to another safe place, within your sight. But NOT in a punishment mode - rather, like this: "Karl, you're really having trouble focussing right now, it's time for you to go blow off some steam so you can get back to what we're doing." QUIETLY, do not focus attention on him, that's like putting out a fire with gasoline.


If your meeting place has a completely empty room or yard, that would be perfect. Suggest pushups, situps, lap-running, yoga breathing exercises, or journaling but do not require any of them. Just tell him that when he's ready to come back to the group you'll be happy to have him back. And watch him out of the corner of your eye.


I have to say it again: DO NOT MAKE THIS PUNISHMENT! Punishment sets up a power struggle, the SM vs the Scout situation. The end result will be that at his decision point he may go to the group where he feels accepted without censure - and that will NOT be the group you want this kid to run with!


What you are working toward is a working arrangement in which you are going to help him be a success in his scouting activities. If he feels understood and liked, he will be able to tolerate quite a bit of your assistance in learning to control himself.


d) Physical exercise is this kid's best friend. WEAR HIM OUT! If he doesn't HAVE to take his medication on weekends, try him without it at camp but add about 3 miles to his schedule. You might be surprised to find that this balances out nicely and lets him get to sleep at a reasonable time. ADD medication is speed, basically, so don't be surprised when the kid can't go to sleep on time. If he can't focus in a meeting, have him run laps around the building until he's ready to sit down. Not punishment, remember, just help settling down. Also, consider that he may work better standing up or sprawled on the floor. Often it takes about 80% of an ADHD kid's brain to sit still at a table. Doesn't leave much for the MB work!


e) Don't let him get too hungry or sleepy. You will not like the result. Assuming he's basically healthy, a high-protein/low sugar diet will most likely help a lot. Similar snacks are a must - mid-afternoon cookies at camp and you might as well just sell tickets to the fights you'll have trying to get him to help make dinner. I keep small protein bars handy to prevent melt-downs.


f) He might do better working on two things at once, let him try and see if it helps.

My own children sleep well after Sleepytime tea with Splenda (sweetener). No sugar, no cocoa.


BRAVO again for wanting to help this kid. Please go read about Project Lab, it will give you a whole different perspective about your scout and how to handle him.


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While all of these are great suggestions, one must remember that the adult leaders need to attend to the entire troop, and not be constantly dealing with one disruptive boy to the detriment of the others. As I've indicated in other threads, we've had some boys in our troop who have had medical conditions resulting in disruptive behavior. We have, for the most part, been blessed with ample adult participation for these boys to have individual attention. But that has not always been the case, nor has it been reason not to ask the parents to get involved. We've found that when the parents realize that we do, indeed, want their son to have the Scouting experience, but we sometimes don't have the resources in people or experience with the condition, or both, they're willing to help out at meetings and trips by just being there. Their presence can sometimes make the difference, as they have a better understanding than most of the means and methods for dealing with the boy when he's getting a little out of control. Their presence also lends to the learning process for the rest of us, when we see how they deal with their son. Two boys, both ADHD, will most likely be dealt with successfully in quite different fashions by their parents. And we can't know that unless they lend a hand.


Most of the time, we've been able to get these folks involved in the program as volunteers, if to no other extent than to have them understand what the program really is, so they can help us in attending to their sons needs and best interests within the program. In a couple of instances, they have been quite instrumental in helping other families in the troop or the town deal with similar circumstances, if not in Boy Scouts, then Girl Scouts, or youth sports.

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I absolutely agree with jmcquillan that the scoutmaster needs to be there for the whole troop. I'm an ASM so in my troop I would be the logical one to help with a disruptive boy.


The key thing to realize, though, is that after you've cut your deal with the boy it is much less time-consuming to deal with his disruptions, because you only have to say a few words. Once he realizes some success in the group he'll be highly motivated to keep a lid on it and will welcome your help. I guess it goes without saying that when he IS working well the right kind of praise goes a long way.


Right kind: Specific, and about the task. Wrong kind; non-specific and about the kid.


Right: Good square knot, you did it the first try. Right: Good Effort, I've watched you work on that for 10 minutes already. Right: I sure enjoy your company. Right: I have confidence in you.


No room for dispute in any of these. You're talking about YOUR observations and reactions.


Wrong: You're a good kid. Why is saying such a nice thing wrong? Because a kid with low self-esteem will not believe you when you tell him he's a good kid, and he will go out of his way to set you straight by acting out in the very near future. If he was just sitting there thinking about setting fire to the patrol flag and you come along and say "You're a good kid," it sets up a guilt response that makes him need to prove you wrong.


In my personal experience - only about 4 years, much of it with girls - the parents of the problem kids were actually NOT much help in meetings. The child tended to act out MORE with mom or dad to watch, and all too often there was a downward cycle of the parent doing this: Warn 'em, Warn 'em, Warn 'em, WARN THEM, YELL AT THEM, EVERYONE BE AGGRAVATED ... which was worse than the original behavior.


Drives me nuts to have that going on. But some parents do better, I'm sure. Others may have a different experience, and I'm all for additional adult assistance so if it works for you, go for it.


If you do have the problem with a parent being present and NOT being effective with his or her own child, you can always re-assign parents to handle different children. That usually works really well.

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SagerScout, you are right on the money. I agreee with everything you have to say.


jmcquillan, sorry, but Sager is right. Somethimes the parents of a child with ADHD make it worse. I can say that because I am one of those parents. I find that other adults have much more patience with my son than I do. Especially at Scout meetings.


Here is a poem I found on the internet that related to ADHD. It's really directed at parents, but it's not a very long stretch to apply it to Scout Leaders.


Here's hoping that Scouters out there will find the patience it takes to help young boys like my son realize their ful potential.




Through The Eyes Of A Child With AD/HD


Please tell me you love me, for I need to be accepted in your eyes.


Please let me know when I have done well, for I need to know that sometimes I am like other children.


Please share some of your thoughts with me, for my intelligence is not what is impaired.


Please bother to correct me and keep me in line as much as necessary. I cannot steer myself.


Please learn all you can about my problem. I need understanding as well as discipline.


Give me your patience, because although it takes me longer, I need to succeed just like all the other children.


Please make time in your day for me. I need to feel that attention and affection are things you want to give. I will not go away if you pretend I'm not there.


Remember that I am a complex person with many traits that are right and fine. Please help me see those things in myself. You are my mirror.


Please do not abuse me, for although I need a firmer hand than most, I feel lost and alone when I see rejection in your eyes. I have no motive, and all I can do is say; "I'm sorry" over and over again.


Please remember that I love you, for you stand beside me day after day in this confusing and frightening world. You are the reason I am not alone.


--Author Unknown


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Thanks to all for your suggestions. A couple of responses from me:


"Control" was a badly chosen word on my part. As a father of a ADD 23 yr old son I know how control always backfired on me.


SagerScout's suggestions are very helpful. This boy must want to be a good scout because his attendance is good at campouts and meetings. I can work on this with him.


I agree that parents can be more of a problem. I have more patience for other kids than I did with my own son - I think we expect our own to be perfect. Sometimes when this dad is around I see him getting frustrated with his son, and I tell him to let me or the jr. leaders deal with the situation.


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jmcquillan, sorry, but Sager is right. Somethimes the parents of a child with ADHD make it worse. I can say that because I am one of those parents. I find that other adults have much more patience with my son than I do. Especially at Scout meetings.




While I wouldn't think of questioning your experience, please don't be so quick to discount mine. We've actually had quite a bit of success following ther trail we have. That's not to say we've found any ADHD nirvana, but we've enjoyed a success rate working with the parents of "problem" kids that makes us quite happy. Had that not been the case, I wouldn't have posted.

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I've been sitting here typing and revising and changing this response to jmcquillan for the last 20 minutes. There's a lot I want to say, but for the sake of courtesy, I'll just say this.


If your "trail" makes you "quite happy", more power to you. I did not "discount" your experience, I simply disagreed with you. Your tone in your reply is one of condescension and I do not appreciate it.


Until you have been the parent of a child with ADHD, or any other learning disability (or medical disability for that matter) you simply do not know what it is like. If my son's Scoutmaster insists that I remain at Troop meetings to keep my son in line, we will be finding a new Troop. I am happy to offer advice and share my methods that I use with my son, but he needs an opportunity to have some independence from me. It is important for him to find his way in the world without his mather always there in the background waiting to help him when he hits a rough spot. I believe the same is true for any boy, ADHD or not.


This is a sore subject for me and I apologoze if I have been overly sensitive.

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ScoutMom, JmcQuillan - would it be helpful if I observe that I think both of you are right? I can see how each of you might have felt the other's post didn't accept or honor the other's experience - but from this thread and others I think both of you are trying hard to be good scouters with I hope tremendous success. IT looks like JMC hit a real nerve for Scoutmom - and possibly vice versa. If I had oil to pour on troubled waters I would since I think you both clearly have the good of your respective troops in mind and I don't think either meant offense.


I must add that I see some real validity in ScoutMom's observation that many kids (and not just ADHD kids) need activities without their everloving moms there.


That said, as the parent of one ADHD and one OCD child I have to also agree with JMC because if his plan (I'm sorry, is that the right pronoun?) is WORKING and he has successful meetings featuring fun and accomplishment for most participants most of the time (the best you can hope for, really)- Well, there you are! As long as the parental presence is not handicapping the scout in his progress toward being a functioning troop member, I would be OK with it too.


So, please y'all - be friends....

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Hey, no disrespect or flames intended here. Simply pointing out that we struggled long and hard to find something that worked for us. We were faced with parents of ADD and ADHD kids, and one boy with Tourettes, all of whom desperately wanted something for their boys to participate in and be accepted. Scouting turned out to be that something. We found that we simply didn't have the resources is skills and understanding to deal with many of the issues that these boys bring with them. Moms & Dads who were asked to jump in and help in that effort worked for us, and worked wonderfully.


Yes, Scoutmom, that is the "trail" we've found, and it has lead to successes for us. I suppose that sometimes parents may not be the answer, and can make things worse. But until it's been tried, one doesn't know. We tried, and success happened.


Neither of my own children had problems like ADD or ADHD or Tourettes, or anything like that. But, we have a nephew who is an ADHD child, and we've worked with him inside and outside of Scouts, and we do understand what goes on in that world.

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I've seen some excellent ideas and suggestions on how to handle a child with special needs at a troop meeting!


ADHD is very difficult to handle in the setting of a troop meeting. It sure challenges the leadership to keep the meeting organized and moving quickly along.


There is no ONE set way of handling this situation. It sometimes takes a lot of trials and errors before finding one that works for the boys with ADHD.


One thing that I have found very useful is to present an Ethics In Action lesson on those with ADHD. This has helped the other boys understand what it's about, how to deal with their peers who are ADHD, and they become part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

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