Counting the Scouts with Disabilities in your Council

Wheelchair ArcheryCouncils have tools available to estimate the number of Scouts with disabilities they serve.  Three Fires and Erie Shores Councils have conducted surveys over the past few years to quantify and understand the breakdown of Scouts with disabilities within traditional and special needs units.  This information helps the council Disabilities Awareness Committees improve service and support the Scouts, parents and volunteers. A one-page survey was included in the re-charter packets for each unit within each district of the councils. Specific objectives include:

  • Identify the various disabilities represented within the council’s membership.
  • Determine the need to target specific training events by district or council.
  • Understand the breakdown of different disabilities within each district.
  • Determine how the committee may provide support and/or resources to individuals, units or districts.

Results From Two Councils

Erie Shores Council has been gathering this data since 2015.  In the 2018 year, the top 3 disabilities were Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at 8.88% of Scouts, Autism Spectrum Disorder at 2.89%, and Cognitive Disabilites at 1.70%. The total percentage of Scouts with disabilities per year was 13.59% in 2015, 14.4% in 2016, 15.4% in 2017, and 18.65% in 2018. These total percentages do not include non-traditional units within Scoutreach.

The accuracy of these numbers depends heavily on how many Scouting units fill out the surveys and return them. The response rate shows the percentage of surveys returned. The higher the response rate, the more accurate the statistics are. Typically, a rate above 30% is considered pretty good. In 2018, the Erie Shores response rate was 49.49% of the council’s total units. The top two disabilities identified in Erie Shores are ADHD and  Autism.  The total numbers may change from year to year based on retention, survey responses, and new membership.

Three Fires Council has been gathering this data since 2014.  For the 2018 year, the response rate by district within the Council varied between 43.20% and 72.02%. The Council-wide response rate in 2018 was 55.25%.  The top 3 disabilities were Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at 4.78%, Autism Spectrum Disorder at 1.88%, and Learning Disabilities at 0.84%.  The overall total percentage of Scouts with disabilities per year was 11.28% in 2014, 10.95% in 2015, 10.61% in 2016, 12.74% in 2017, and 10.48% in 2018.

The Survey Tool

The survey starts by identifying the unit and the leader filling out the survey:

  • Unit number, district
  • #Scouts in unit, #Scouts with disabilities, #Leaders with disabilities
  • Name of person completing survey, position, phone, email address

The remainder of the survey asks for the number of Scouts who fall into these categories:

  • Scouts w/ Disabilities who have earned the unit’s highest rank in the past year (i.e., Arrow of Light, Eagle, Summit, Denali)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (including Asperger’s syndrome, PDD-NOS)
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Blind or Sight-Impairment
  • Deaf or Hard of Hearing
  • Cognitive disability (learning disabilities, reading disorders such as Dyslexia, writing disorders such as Dysgraphia, Auditory Processing Disorder, Speech Impairments, Down Syndrome, etc.)
  • Developmental delay (Down Syndrome)
  • Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities (Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Tourette Syndrome, etc.)
  • Physically disabled (Cerebral palsy, spina bifida, paralysis, mobility impairments, etc.)
  • Seizures / Epilepsy
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Multiple Coexisting Disabilities

The survey tool is posted at