Advancement help may be right down the street

Both teachers work with students who have disabilities daily and know the challenges and the needs of your Scout. Most Scouts who are in a special ed program at school have an , Individualized Education Program (IEP). This is a written document that’s developed for each public school child who is eligible for special education. The IEP is created through a team effort and reviewed at least once a year. Parents have input into their child’s plan and Scouting can be a part of that plan. Many school districts see the importance of what is being learned in classrooms being applied in the Scouting program.

A special education or reading specialist teacher may be helpful in planning what your Scout can achieve and the pace that Scout can get the work done. They may be able to help a unit committee breakdown the steps needed to achieve the next rank or award.

In many cases special ed teachers are doing some requirements for advancement in their own classroom with other special education students too. Take the cooking merit badge for example: many high school special education students are learning lifetime skills and learning to cook is one of those. You have to know what you are going to cook, set the plan, go shopping and cook a meal. The same skills special ed teachers are teaching in the classrooms are being taught in Scouting which can reinforce the IEP for the Scout. The unit committee working hand-in-hand with the special ed teachers on a Scout’s IEP will enhance the Scouts abilities to learn.

Scouts that have physical disabilities may be working at school with their physical education teachers on adapted physical education skills. These teachers also may help a unit learning the limits of what a Scout can do to complete, physical type merit badges such as swimming, personal fitness or hiking. A physical education teacher might be able to set limits and goals that a Scout can reach in a reasonable amount of time or in blocks of distance that still could help the Scout achieve the merit badge.

Remember, Scouts must meet advancement requirements as written for merit badges and all ranks –no more and no less – and they are to do exactly what is stated. For more information, see section 10, “Advancement for Members With Special Needs,” Guide to Advancement.

And don’t forget to ask the parents for advice and help. They know their child the best. Elisabeth Shelby, a member of the National Special Needs and Disabilities Committee who has a PhD in Special Education, told me, “I used to say that the parents know their child and educators know techniques.” Parents, unit committee members, and educators working together will enhance a Scout’s ability to advance at the Scout’s level of learning.