The COPE course was not the only focus of disability adaptations at Philmont Training Center last summer. Instructors and participants in the DIVERSEability and DisABILITY training course experienced several other adaptations. Long-time PTC instructor Scott Hellen (on left) was pleased to find the classrooms already prepared for individuals in wheelchairs. In a previous summer the PTC staff had produced wood blocks to raise table heights to better fit wheelchairs and the blocks were already installed when the course staff arrived. New picnic tables better accommodated people in wheelchairs as well as others with mobility problems.
We’ve all encountered Scouts who are picky eaters because the menu is different from home and food is cooked in unfamiliar ways. Most food aversions work themselves out because most kids will not willingly starve themselves. That is not always the case, and Scout leaders need to be receptive and address special cases. One special issue with food is sensory overload. There are neurobiological disorders, including autism, where “ordinary” sensory input overwhelms the mind. Eating is a complex sensory experience because food has taste, smell, texture, and appearance. Some Scouts have sensory issues that are so intense that they refuse to eat many types of foods, no matter how much you encourage or reason with them. Parents in these situations tend to be reluctant to ask for accommodations for their child.