The recent issue of Scouting published a feature article on Scouting for youth with special needs (March-April 2017, vol 105, no 2). It is now available online.
The article gives examples of working successfully with youth who have special needs and talks about BSA’s resources and activities at the national level to support this work.
Here is a remarkable video released last month for World Autism Month. Targeted at a young audience, it explains invisible disabilities, focusing on autism. The video portrays autism as an amazing difference, not a terrible one. The writer/producer/director has included closed captions and distributes the video in multiple languages.
We never call Scouts with special needs “special-needs Scouts.” Why, you ask?
That’s because word choice matters, and Scouters on the Disabilities Awareness Committee recommend using person-first language that describes what a person has, not who a person is.
“Even though it does get a bit wordy and awkward in everyday speech,” committee chairman Tony Mei says, “this emphasizes the personhood of the individual and places the disability as a secondary condition that the individual must live with.”
Reprinted from the Spring 2017 Abilities Digest, from the Invisible 411 blog.
Here is a reading that is often used in training to support Scouts with disabilities.
Life can be cruel, and growing up in the real world isn’t easy. Kids pick on other kids for any reason they can find. The list is long, but anything that makes someone different is fair game: height, weight, gender, age, religion, bad hair day, clothing, where you live, kind of car, curfew, athletic ability, parent’s jobs, their marital status, siblings, bad teeth, bad breath, glasses, braces, and any number of things regarding sexual matters, intelligence, learning disabilities, opinions, or following rules. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a safe place to go where everyone was treated fairly, honestly, equally, and respectfully? A place where everybody lived by the same rules? A place where mistakes could be made without fear of ridicule? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if people could just learn to get along with each other?! Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could do something about it? What would you do if you had that privilege … that responsibility … that obligation? What if you could change the world?!
The National Disabilities Awareness Subcommittee, BSA, has developed a list of resources for Scout leaders regarding disabilities, Scouting, and related adaptations.
The list includes web sites, organizations, adaptive equipment suppliers, and some software applications. The BSA does not recommend or endorse those on the list.
The BSA’s National Disabilities Awareness Subcommittee has an email address for answering questions about Scouting with disabilities.
The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.