How to work with Scouts who have ADD/ADHD

scoutcast-logo1If your troop has 25 boys, odds are three of them have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a CDC report.

Yes, 12 percent of boys ages 3 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD, and that doesn’t count those who may have the condition but haven’t been formally diagnosed.

That presents a unique challenge to you as a trusted leader, and it makes the March 2013 episode of ScoutCast a must-listen. You’ll learn what ADD/ADHD is, how you know if a boy has it, and how you as a leader can work with Scouts in your troop who have it.

Our ScoutCast hosts are joined by Tony Mei, a 40-year Scout volunteer with the Marin Council in San Rafael, Calif. He’s been working with Scouts with disabilities for almost 15 of those 40 years and has developed training for College of Commissioner Science classes for Scouting with special needs and disabilities, including ADHD and autism spectrum.

Hear the episode here or download it for offline listening.

Cub leaders, there’s a podcast for you too… 

Cub leaders: No time for training?

cubcast-logoYou’ve got a group of 8-year-olds coming to your house on Thursday; now what?

You’ve already heard that training is the secret to a successful den or pack meeting, but you probably think you have no time for training or that the training will be boring.

Have no fear because Mark Griffin, the team leader for volunteer development at the National Council in Irving, Texas, is here. In the March Cubcast, he dispels those myths and explains the importance of Cub Scouters getting trained.

Listen to or download the CubCast at this link.

Where’s the iTunes version?

Each month, I’m asked about an iTunes version of ScoutCast and CubCast. Here’s what the team tells me:

“We are currently experiencing difficulties with our RSS feeding iTunes in order to facilitate the delivery of both CubCast and ScoutCast.

“This is due to the change in content delivery to move away from a Flash-based object and to a format that is compliant with most, if not all, desktop and mobile devices.

“Our technicians are currently working on identifying and rectifying the issue so that we can deliver this content to you in the most efficient and user-friendly manner.”


  1. These are two very good ‘Casts this month. The ScoutCast on working with youth with ADD/ADHD is excellent. Good lead into the updated version of “Guide to Working with Scouts with Special Needs and Disabilities”.
    The need for Training is always a good topic. Don’t forget Roundtable is also an extension of Training.

  2. The wonderful thing about using strategies that are successful with Scouts who have disabilities is that they work fantastically well with ALL Scouts. Leaders and SMs should take the time to learn this information and incorporate it into how they lead their units. It is best practices and will improve outcomes for all Scouts in the unit, not just those who have disabilities.

  3. Thank you for bringing this ScoutCast to our atttention. I have posted a link to the ScoutCasts on our troop web site and sent a link to our Scoutmasters. The subject matter is very timely for our group.

  4. I worked with a boy that had this issue along with a host of other issues. I had him and his mother stop by my house for a few hours. I taught him how to shoot a BB rfile. His mom thought I was crazy for doing this, but I told she had nothing to loose. So I got him to first hit a 4×4 sheet of sheet rock and dailed him down to a paper target. We worked on breathing, self control, and controling emotions. A few meetings later, he lost his cool. I took him to the side and reminded him of the BB shooting and how he delt with things.
    In the end, we has able to run th emeeting as the senior boy leader!
    The BB shotting was just the fun activity. The personal management skills was what I was really teaching. You as a scout leader can work with these boys and get good results. You just have to adjust how you are teaching them. God created us all different, but we are sill a diamond in his eyes. Sometime you just have to wipe off all of the dirt to see the diamond.

  5. On the part about the RSS feeds, I’m part of the mobile crowd and the last Cubcast I got was 4 months ago. (Recharter) I hope the feed gets fixed because I miss getting to listen to the Cubcasts. Personally I won’t use iTunes just a standards compliant RSS should do it.

  6. I am the father of an ADD/ADHD Eagle scout and assistant scoutmaster in our sons’ troop where we have several ADD/ADHD scouts. I enjoyed the podcast but it omitted a couple of important elements that I have learned over the years. FIRST, make clear to everyone – leaders, other scouts, the afflicted scouts, and parents that while ADD is a handicap and allowances will be made, it is not an excuse to tolerate behavior that is detrimental to the Scout or the Troop. This requires firmness but never harshness. For example, when the zipper got stuck on a tent, an ADHD scout decided to slice open his tent with his knife. There were immediate repercussions to his Totin’ Chip and he had to repair or replace the tent. His parents were understanding and supportive. By the way, that scout also earned his Eagle. SECOND, deal with ADHD/ADD directly including the Scout himself. Due to my long experience with my son I often am asked to deal with a “misbehaving” ADD/ADHD scout. The best approach I have learned is to take the Scout aside (within 2-deep rules) and speak directly to him and state that, while we understand he has a handicap, his behavior is detrimental and is not acceptable. Then we move on without lingering unnecessarily. ADD/ADHD people often lack the ability to pick up “social cues”. Talking around the issue is usually missed by the ADD Scout and direct talk is usually helpful. As odd as this approach may sound to those who fear being offensive, I promise that EVERY ADD scout with whom I have worked respected, and felt respected, as a result of the direct approach. THIRD, understand that your patience will be challenged and don’t be afraid to get a different leader to take over before you reach a point that you will regret.

  7. Agree with Two Scout Dad. Over 20 years ago, our son was the SPL and had similar experiences with a young ADD/ADHD Scout at summer camp. He and the Scoutmaster worked out the problems the same way. One of the things done was making sure the young Scout took his medication. A couple of years later this young Scout earned his Eagle and served as SPL.

  8. 2ScoutDad is on-target with quite a bit but in his effort to lay down some ground rules, he singled out a particular scout’s disability and behavior issues in front of the group. In my opinion that would be contrary to Youth Protection standards. Group behavior standards can address specific behaviors like “think before you act, keep your hands to yourself, respect the property of others, consider your safety and the safety of others before you act, ask for an adult’s help and advice before you break one of the other rules, etc.” but they should never single out a specific scout or group of scouts.

    I’ve seen kiddos with no ADHD make just as many poor decisions as this young fellow with the tent. I heard a parenting teacher say that a kid’s job in life is to make mistakes. It’s our job to help them learn from those mistakes and carry what they learn into adulthood. Consequences are important but too often we lay down the consequences before we even give kids the opportunity to work out why their course of action was not ideal. This young man had a problem – he needed to get in or out of his tent and the zipper was stuck. His solution was to use the tool he had on hand, in this case the knife he was carrying to cut the tent.

    I wasn’t present so I can’t comment on how the correction was handled but I know from personal experience as a mom of an ADHD scout (and wife of an engineer) that others often don’t think and process information the same way that I do. Believe it or not, part of the process of working with this type of situation, whether the scout is ADHD or not, should be to find an opportunity for praise and validation. In this case, resourcefulness for using tools he had on hand, making an attempt to problem solve, etc. It’s also our job as leaders to help them evaluate their own behavior in light of the outcome and get their assistance in solving this new problem created by their previous actions. It’s the difference between creating a defensive adversary facing punishment when what they need is to learn how to process the situation – how to not shut down, how to take responsibility for his actions, how to say he’s sorry, how to make things right, how be part of the solution, and how to learn from this experience.

Join the conversation