When the parents of a special-needs kid say ‘yes’ to Scouting, this happens…

Behold the power of “Yes.”

When Crystal Bueno and her husband first saw the go-kart their Tiger Cub sons were given at a council derby Saturday in Brooklyn, their first reaction was “No.”

“No way,” Crystal remembers thinking. “Marcus can’t do this. And Adam’s definitely not big enough or strong enough to push the kart.”

The reason for Crystal’s initial skepticism? Marcus, 7, is on the autism spectrum. And Adam was probably the smallest Tiger Cub out there.

But the Buenos let their sons try. That whole thing about it being better to try and fail than fail to try? That applies. And with Marcus steering and Adam providing the motor, the boys excelled.

It’s just more proof that Scouting is for all boys, even those like Marcus who might need special attention. What other youth program out there can say that?

The photo above speaks volumes, but read Crystal’s letter to see just how powerful this program has already been for two new Scouting parents: 

Hi Bryan,

I like your blog very much! My boys — Tiger Cubs — are new to Scouting this year, and are having the time of their lives.

My 7-yr old son Marcus, is on the autism spectrum. I thought a good topic for a future blog might be how packs/troops accommodate their programs for special-needs kids, to make the program welcoming for kids of all abilities. In our experience, our pack has been wonderful about welcoming special-needs boys, adapting the program as needed, and above all, constantly encouraging them to live up to the Cub Scout motto, “Do Your Best.”

The whole easy and respectful equality among the boys of our pack is set by our Cubmaster, Mr. Dono, and the other extraordinary leaders. And I think this attitude and approach to the Scouting program really is set from the top down.

As just one example, we took the boys to their first Cub Scout Go-Kart derby on Saturday at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. We had no idea what to expect, what we were in for. I know that if we had actually SEEN the kart ahead of time, or knew that the boys had to navigate an obstacle course while pushing this kart? My husband and I both agreed, we would have said “No way. Marcus can’t do this. And Adam’s definitely not big enough or strong enough to push the kart.”

But thankfully, we didn’t know what we were in for.

Our leaders were much more confident, and coached Marcus carefully about how to steer the kart. We stood to the side to watch others do it several times before it was our turn. The other boys were all going crazy, cheering and encouraging Adam — the smallest little Tiger Cub — to just push hard, even though the kart was very heavy for him. And for Marcus, the Cubmaster put a little piece of orange tape on the steering wheel (orange is Marcus’ favorite color!) so he had a visual guide to help him keep the wheel straight. Talk about making memories — my boys had the best. Day. EVER!!

My husband and I both felt like Marlin in Finding Nemo: “You think you can do these things, but you just CAN’T, Nemo!”

Well, our little Nemo proved us wrong, and we so proud!

A picture is worth a thousand words. This is Marcus steering the kart, and Adam pushing. The look on their face is absolute joy!!

Thank you,

Crystal Bueno

Pack 187, Brooklyn

Powerful, right? Stories like that remind us why we’re all here.

As for Crystal’s point about resources for special-needs Scouts, they’re out there.

The March 2013 ScoutCast, for example, has some great insight. This Scouting magazine What Would You Do? article about Asperger’s includes real-life solutions. Clarke Green’s blog has a great page with additional info. And don’t forget to Like the Autism and Scouting Facebook page, an unofficial resource for parents and leaders.

But we can always do more, so I’d encourage anyone to leave their comments below and offer additional tips or resources.

About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.