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Borderline Autistic and not getting along

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Perhaps I could get some suggestions about our troops situation. We have a Star Scout that is up for BOR. He is borderline autistic according to Dad. He usually ends up on the receiving end of being picked on/bullied by some of the other scouts his age. Many times he starts it and ends up picking on younger scouts. There is no question that he does not act his age most of the time. He has met the requirements for the rank of Life. Advancement chair is questioning scout spirit based on him not getting along with other scouts and espiecially picking on younger scouts. There also have been a couple of occasions when the scout has had a difficult time completing simple tasks like setting up a tent or washing a pot. He usually can answer questions that many scouts have a difficult time answering. Advancement chair is suggesting defering his advancement for three months to show improvement getting along with other scouts. Opinions?

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Has he been tested by a doctor? Does he have an IEP at school? These would provide documentation to support autistic tendency (more likely autistic spectrum disorders) and any modifications he goes through for school. It also would indicate if you should consider getting the paperwork going for a Scout with a disability.

 

How has he done before? Were there any issues at previous BORs?

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There have been questions in the past on how this particular scout managed to earn ranks of First class and Star. He has been to BSA Summer camp twice and many of his requirements have been signed off at camp. I think that some of the adult leaders view this scout as someone having the rank but not acting as a Star or Life scout. Dad revealed the borderline autisem with in the last 6 months. The troop has not recieved any documentation. I feel that Dad and scout do not want every one(or anyone) in the troop to know. I believe that the scout has met at least the minimum to advance.

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Yah, first you need to get documentation from dad, and perhaps ask permission to speak to the treating physician/psychologist. This has nothin' to do with rank advancement, this is so that your adult (and key youth) leaders understand the boy's condition & medications enough to be able to help, support, and keep him safe on trips.

 

We must remember that advancement is just a technique we use to help boys learn and grow. You should not hesitate to use it! If you figure that with an extra three months, a clear goal, and some more support for this boy you can help him improve in an area that's obviously goin' to be valuable for him the rest of his life, then by all means, do it!

 

Just remember, the boy is going to need your active support and help to change. Autistic spectrum kids don't usually "get" social cues, and it takes a lot of repetition and work for the behaviors to correct. You have to stay on top of this, and you have to bring the youth leaders and his patrol-mates "into the plan." The kids are goin' to be there with him when you're not.

 

Keep a sense of humor, be happy with small growth, and don't worry if it takes six months or more instead of three. Care for the kid, not the patch.

 

 

 

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>> Yah, first you need to get documentation from dad, and perhaps ask permission to speak to the treating physician/psychologist. This has nothin' to do with rank advancement, this is so that your adult (and key youth) leaders understand the boy's condition & medications enough to be able to help, support, and keep him safe on trips.

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I tend to agree with Barry here. Get the parent(s) on board as much as possible but don't demand to speak w/ the boy's doctor. If the parents offer that, fine, but the parents would be my first line of information and they should know enough about their son's condition to explain any medical concerns themselves.

 

Autism is not an excuse for this scout to bully others, or to be bullied by other scouts either. There are lots of people here with more experience than me (and this is where having open communications with the boy's parents will be important) but often it seems to help with autism-spectrum situations to lay out very clear steps in terms of behavior that are definitely do-able for the boy. The boy's parent (and maybe the boy himself too) ought to be able to help you figure out what those would be for his particular case.

 

 

Lisa'bob

 

 

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I admit to not knowing very much about autism.

In fact I just looked it up and found:

a variable developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterized by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others, and by stereotyped behavior patterns.

I do understand that it manifests in different ways. I seen something on the TV the other night that suggests that it is on the rise.

I was informed many years back that the requirement for membership in Scouting was that you had to understand and accept the Scout Law and Oath.

Each and every one of us who makes the Scout Oath, promises to "Do my best.."

Of course I don't know this Lad and don't know what is going on in the Troop.

But I can't help but think maybe he is doing his best.

Maybe he is trying like heck, but this disability, which he can't help and has no control over is getting in the way.

It isn't lack of Scout spirit it's the symptoms of what he is suffering from.

I think we would cut a Lad with severe physical impairments a break?

If as you say "He has met the requirements for the rank of Life." I fail to see why anyone would want to wait one week, one month or three months. The Lad is doing his best and just can't help what he is suffering from.

I don't think we need documentation, I'm sure all the leaders know what they need to know.

If the adults really feel that they are unable to manage the situation, maybe they need to help him find a Troop where the Leaders can. This might be a special needs unit?

But if you all decide that you want to try your best, the main thing is that he is doing his best, which may not live up to the expectations of the Advancement chair. What is he using as a guide?

Eamonn.

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Just a question for context: the original poster wrote: "He usually ends up on the receiving end of being picked on/bullied by some of the other scouts his age." Are these "other scouts" being held back for advancement because of their behavior? Is the Scoutmaster conferencing with them because of THEIR un-Scoutlike behavior?

 

As the parent of a boy on the autism spectrum (not a Scout, although our troop does have an autistic Scout), I can tell you that often, kids on the spectrum pick up their social cues from those around them. If this Scout is picked on and bullied by other Scouts his own age, it's no wonder he then turns around and does the same to younger Scouts. Obviously, it must be okay to do because these other Scouts are doing it to him.

 

I don't think it's fair to delay his advancement for lack of Scout spirit when it appears to be a pervasive issue in the troop. I'd recommend a discussion with all the boys of the troop about the kinds of unScoutlike behaviors you are seeing, not just in this boy, but in others.

 

By the way, in either the June or August issue of Scouting, I'll have an article on working with boys on the autism spectrum that may provide additional insight into this.

 

Elizabeth

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I used to work as a speech-language pathologist with kids ages 6-21 who have autism. most of the children I worked with were lower functioning than the boy in your troop, but I do know that most kids with autism spectrum disorders do have difficulties with communication and social skills. The "picking on others and being picked on himself" would certainly be due to poor social skills, but could also be due to poor communication skills. While most kids will pick up on subtle cues (verbal and non-verbal) which would tell them how to react to a situation, those with autism have to be specifically taught what each cue means.

 

I would ask the parents if they have any pointers for you. Explain the situation to them and maybe they can tell you things to say or do, which will help this boy get along with others better.

 

I remember when I was student teaching, and I was trying to teach high school aged autistic students to use socially appropriate behavior on the city bus. Many of them would be taking the bus to their jobs when they graduated from high school. We role played appropriate conversations and made sure they knew that certain topics were not to be discussed. After our first real bus ride, I discovered I had left out a very important part of the training. The boy sitting next to me whacked the newspaper that a stranger was reading, and asked, "How do you like the weather?" Yes, he used an appropriate topic, but I had failed to teach him how to appropriately START the conversation!

 

The other scouts in your troop may need a lesson on how to help this boy, also. In the example above, I was able to apologize and explain to the man with the newspaper, and he was very understanding. If I had not been there to explain, however, you can imagine how upset he would have been.

 

I wouldn't recommend delaying this boy's rank advancement simply due to poor scout spirit. He might not be able to do any better, with out special reminders or specific cues.

 

If he tends to act out more during "down time", you might want to talk to your SPL about having a schedule for this boy to follow. Routine is a big deal to those with autism, and knowing what to expect often helps calm them.

 

One boy that I worked with would throw a fit if his school day deviated from the norm. He was okay, however, if we wrote down the change for him. We couldn't just tell him, he had to see it in writing.

 

Good luck with this challenge!

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Eamonn wrote:

"I seen something on the TV the other night that suggests that it is on the rise."

 

Just to support this (and it's a little scary), our SM's wife is a speech therapist who encounters many autistic children. The subject came up in conversation recently, and she said that autism used to occur in 1 in 1000 children, but in recent years it has approached 1 in 150. She attributes it to greater use of chemicals and plastics in food packaging. Her extra caution: Never microwave with plastic wrap still covering the food.

 

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As a parent of a high functioning autistic scout and SM in a troop that has one or two others, I've seen variations of this fairly often.

 

First, it's very easy to be unsure about the diagnosis of high functioning autism as a parent. Even when the doctors and tests confirm it, "autism" is a scary word. It is hard for a parent to accept and very hard to share with others. I'd accept the father's word on this.

 

However, I strongly agree that the adult leadership should work with the other scouts - especially those in his patrol and the scout leadership. You don't need to share the diagnosis. They probably know this scout is difficult and different.

 

I've had good luck explaining, one-on-one, to other scouts that the autistic scout has trouble figuring out how to act and what others think of him. They can usually give examples. I then explain that, rather than assume he can read their expression or tone, they need talk to him. I tell them to pull him aside and quietly tell him that he is acting wrong and how he should be acting. This should be done calmly and without anger.

 

Amazingly, every scout I've had this discussion with has started doing this. The autistic scouts respond well because they really do want to fit in but don't know how. It reduces conflict when everyone has another way to handle the problem.

 

As for the inappropriate behaviour of the autistic scout, I don't think bullying should be accepted either to him or by him. We don't do any favors to a high functioning autistic by accepting anti-social behavior. I agree with holding up advancement if this is ongoing behavior, then work closely with him and other scouts to stop it in the future.

 

Finally, as for not earning other requirements, that's in the past and shouldn't be a factor now. However, this would be a great Scout to have involved in training younger scouts in earlier requirements, with oversight by an ASM to ensure he is still current on the skills involved and behaves appropriately in training.

 

DonM

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Eagle76 wrote: "The subject came up in conversation recently, and she said that autism used to occur in 1 in 1000 children, but in recent years it has approached 1 in 150."

 

It is unclear if the apparent rise is due to there actually being a higher incidence of autism or that we are getting better at diagnosing cases that in the past would have gotten labeled as something else.

 

Like many other neurological/psychological disorders, such as ADHD, schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, etc, our increased understanding of the symptoms of the disorder have lowered the threshold for diagnosis.

 

Even within the past 5 or 6 years since my older son has been diagnosed with high-functioning autism, I have noticed an increase in awareness among the public about autism spectrum disorders (ASD). When he was first diagnosed, many of his teachers were ready to label him as a "willful, poorly behaved" kid, because they did not understand that he could not control some of his behaviors. And these are people who have been trained to work with children, but their education about children with special needs (unless they specialize in that) has generally been woefully lacking in the area of neuropsychological disorders.

 

The higher incidence of ADHD and ASD may also have to do with the stricter roles that our society forces our children into these days. More rigorous schedules, days packed full of activities with little "down time", fewer chances to burn off excess energy, expectations that children act like "little adults" have made it more difficult for children with these disorders to function in society. And the more that a disorder interferes with one's ability to function, the more it is going to be recognized as a valid diagnosis.

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I am new to this site. As a former Den Mother,Cubmaster, and member of our Troop Committee I only wish I had known about this resource in the past. My son, now 20 has been diagnosed with a Pervasive Developmental Disorder which is in the autism spectrum. He had always trouble "fitting in", especially socially. I became invovled deeply with scouts because I wanted my son him to experience what my 3 brother had (1 Eagle, 2 Life). My husband and I thought this would help him achieve social skills by being around other boys.

 

During his cub scouts years, I was able to monitor the other boys and the teasing. Brandon was able to get his arrow of light and recieved all the activity pins possible as a Webelos. When it came time to cross over into a troop, we met several troops that did not want him to belong in their troop. When we finally found a troop willing to take him, my husband and I eagerly volunteered to help in anyway possible. I became part of the troop committee and my husband an assistant scoutmaster.

 

About six months later, we were called into a "special meeting" and we were asked not to bring Brandon to meetings anymore. Because parents had been complaining about him. Apparently, many of the youth in Brandon's patrol were "uncomfortable" being around him and if Brandon didn't leave the other members of the patrol were going to quit. So the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few or something to that sort. They suggested that my husband place Brandon in "Lone Scouts" and the Council office had approved this.

 

I was shocked that this was happening. I had always believed that scouts taught acceptance and Brandon could teach them so much. He, too, was the first to learn the requirements to recieve advancement, but had trouble getting along boys with his patrol. He was very rigid when it came to following rules and often would "tattle" on the other boys for any slightest of rule in fractions (i.e. throwing knives in trees, food in tents, etc.) I believe this one reason the boys wanted him gone. When I talked to our district rep about the troop wanted to remove him, he was SHOCKED and immediately called the council office. He called me back and confirmed that the council had talked to the scoutmaster and indeed, suggested lone scouts for our sons. We were so disappointed, but the DE told me there was little he could do.

 

We decided to put Brandon in the Lone Scouts Program, but we so disappointed, because we orginally put our son in scouts to help him develop the social skills he needed. He did eventually acheive the rank of Life, (by age 14 I might add.) But my husband found the paperwork cumbersome and felt that because he could take "Brandon camping" anytime to give up on Lone Scouts. Brandon was not getting the scout experience we wanted him to be around other boys his age, Lone Scouts he was just around our family.

 

I just wanted to let you know, how happy I was to see this postings and there were scoutmasters trying to find ways to let this boy find his way in the scouting program. Parenting these children are difficult and often parents endure a lifetime of other's misunderstandings about the challenges these children face. I only wish some of you had been around for me son, so that he would have had a positive scouting experience. It restores my faith a little more in the scouting program.

 

Kudos to all of you!! God bless you for your efforts.

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Welcome to the forum bfletcher. My son was also diagnosed with PDD , and wanted to join scouts. I encountered many of the same things you did. In one troop, the kids wouldn't stop picking on him. We joined another troop where the kids at least left him alone, but he didn't have any close friends either. He preservered and finally got his Eagle, and earned the Bronze Hornaday award. He moved on to Venturing and earned his Silver award, and Ranger award. We had several parents wanting my son out of the troop also, and they spread nasty rumors around the troop. Luckily there were a few individuals who stuck up for him. You are right, there should be a place in scouting for your son, I hope things work out for you and your family, it is a shame that your son has been put in a lone scout program, I hope it works out for him.

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Really good suggestions being shared here. I also suggest doing a search in the archives on Aspergers Syndrome (which is on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum). We had a pretty lively thread going a few months back.

Anne in Mpls (Kiddo with Aspergers, now having a total blast as patrol leader where she gets to figure it all out at her pace!)

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