This topic contains 4 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Paul 6 months, 3 weeks ago.
September 18, 2017 at 3:50 pm #75884
We have a scout that crossed over into our troop in May. He and two other Webelos (from the same pack) started attending our troop meetings and camp outs in March. This particular scout is on the autism spectrum and his parents were overly involved in his cub scouting experience and are doing the same thing now that he is in the troop. They attended summer camp with him, all meetings and camp outs as well. Of course we got them to become adult members of the troop, but it is obvious they are there for their son, only.
The scout’s behavior is difficult and made more so by his parents’ presence, as he is never held accountable for his behavior, instead his parents accuse everyone else of bullying, even going so far as to contact the council. We’ve had several scouts leave since this scout joined, including four scouts (two of which were the boys that crossed over with him) that specifically stated their reason for leaving was this scout’s behavior. The rest of the troop finds him to be very difficult to work with and be around. He screams in people’s faces, he is often dirty (so the other boys don’t want him to cook) he has been accused of inappropriate behavior while tenting with other scouts. The other scouts don’t want to be around or “deal” with him, for fear of being accused of bullying; but that, too, has been an accusation of bullying.
I have tried to explain that we need to find the positives and REACH out to the scout and his parents, but the other scouts (and adults) in the troop find this scout (and parents) too exhausting to want to work with. Then, of course, they exclude him/them which just fuels the situation. I have read all the materials on Scouting with youths with disabilities and nothing really covers this sort of situation.
So my question is: How can I help my scouts to accept this individual and help him to assimilate to the troop?
September 20, 2017 at 8:06 am #75951
It’s the position of the BSA that “WHENEVER POSSIBLE”, boys with special challenges be “mainstreamed” and treated like other Scouts and held to the same standards. Mixed in are lots of opportunities for “brotherly love” to understand some boys have challenges and may need some extra attention, alternative activities, and/or added supervision.
Now, I’m going to challenge the last line in your post. It would be foolish to pretend that there are NOT times when “main streaming” isn’t feasible and a boy’s condition may make him better suited for a Special Needs unit.
From your post, he’s clearly a challenge and requires constant parental involvement. Others are quitting because of him and are citing other (legitimate) issues such as health & hygiene. His parents know it’s an issue, but they’ve adopted a “blame everyone else” policy. Honestly… it very well may be time for “that other” conversation because what you have IS SIMPLY NOT WORKING… for anyone.
Honestly (and I say this as a leader with several autistic boys in my own troop), he would be better served by directing them to a Special Needs unit. If none exists, then this is an opportunity for his parents to start one with help from their District Exec and Unit Commissioners.
September 20, 2017 at 8:06 am #75952
Charles J George
Contrary to popular belief, mental disorders do not excuse a lack of discipline.
I’ve asked a lot of autistic kids, and they delivered. However, it was very very hard for them.
The parents may be at wits end. The boy may be acting out because he doesn’t want to be there.
Regardless, safety and well being of all scouts is important. Nobody is entitled to use their disability to minimize that. On the flip side, teaching scouts how to work with someone disability is a life skill they may never regret learning.
September 25, 2017 at 11:51 am #76077
Normally you would need and want parental involvement if you had a scout with that degree of disability. However, I know that sometimes certain parents only make the situation worse, not better, which is what it sounds like you have. My personal opinion is that we should make every reasonable effort to try and include and mainstream a scout with any kind of disability and many times it works out just wonderfully. However, if it becomes clear that the scout is either a possible danger to himself or others or that he makes the scouting experience unbearable for everyone else to the point where scouts are skipping events or even quitting, then you need to have a frank discussion. Before kicking him out, I would have that discussion and try to involve the parents in coming up with any ideas that might help. For starters, I would never have another scout tent with a scout who has reacted physically or demonstrated inappropriate behavior. He should be tenting with a parent if that’s the case. Also, I am not a child behaviorist but I think sometimes in our well meant efforts to mainstream children in all ways, we sometimes put them in situations that become frustrating to them and lead to yet more outbursts. Be thoughtful about what you ask this scout to do, and guide his parents accordingly I think sometimes these children are frustrated when they can’t partake well in certain activities. The answer might be to tactfully engage them in a parallel activity. For example, instead of trying to cook a meal and deal with fire or hygiene issues, perhaps mom or dad could take him on a hike to look for firewood. So, he’s participating in providing the meal but he’s not handling hot utensils or food. My (again, very inexpert) experience with kids on the spectrum is that they do well when you can give them a clear and finite task, like counting something, collecting something, etc. Finally, in real world terms, BSA provides slim guidance on how to handle extreme situations like this. A few pages of guidelines hardly replace a PhD. We are kid people and scout leaders but we are rarely also special education experts or child psychologists. Professionals often have a difficult time assisting some of these children so we shouldn’t feel bad if we simply can’t work it out despite good intentions. I think we owe them our compassion, patience, best efforts, and innovative thinking. Don’t be afraid to reach out to resources in your area. Perhaps there is an aide in one of your school districts who was once a scout and would be willing to attend some outings to help you, the boy, and his parents navigate the experience. However, the bottom line is that you are a volunteer with limited time and you also owe a safe experience to all your scouts and cannot be focused on one boy to the exclusion of the others.
October 31, 2017 at 9:01 am #76974
It’s been over a month since you posted your issues. May I inquire as to what has transpired in the last several weeks?