Where do I find more information about scouting with disabilities?
First, you should consult the BSA Scouting for Youth With Disabilities Manual. It can be found on the BSA website:
If you still have questions, contact the Polaris District at polaris at goscouting.org.
Are all disabled and special needs scouts placed in special troops?
No. It is often best for a youth with special needs to join the same pack, troop, crew, or post as any others in the neighborhood. There are, however, some special units for scouts with special needs.
How do I include a boy with a disability?
Remember BSA policy in two-deep leadership - that second adult can help!
Cub Scout leaders can get help in the form of a den chief.
Involve the parent, a must for ensuring the Scout's inclusion and participation.
Check for other adults in the unit who might be able to help.
Investigate the resources available to you
Participate in district and council sponsored training, such as POW-WOW and University of Scouting
Call for help – see the contact information above
How and what can I modify in the advancement policies to make accommodations for the special needs Scout?
Cub Scouts – “Do your best”, the Cub Scout Motto, applies well here. The leader should determine if the Cub Scout did his best - if he did to the best of his ability, he met the requirement. The unit or den leader should use his or her discretion for each Cub Scout while completing the requirements.
Boy Scouts – For rank advancement, there are specific guidelines specified under BSA policy for making accommodations for special needs Scouts. The BSA publication, “Boy Scout Requirements”, details BSA policy for alternate requirements. BSA publication 58-730, “Application for Alternate Eagle Scout Rank Merit Badges” details procedure for applying for alternates and recommended alternates to required merit badges.
For merit badges, BSA policy states that the requirements must be completed as stated, with no more or less than what’s stated. However, sometimes an accommodation can be made to help the Scout without diminishing the effort required to complete it.
How do I maintain equality and integrity in the program while helping the special needs Scout?
You should never alter or adapt the unit’s program for a special needs Scout – you should however make accommodations to help the special needs Scout enjoy that program to the best of his ability.
Remember, every boy needs help navigating through life, some need more than others. We as adults recognize that each child needs some mentoring, and we tailor that help to maximize his efforts in Scouting. Special needs Scouts need direction and mentoring, too, it just might be different than what you are accustomed to.
What if the parent won't help?
A parent is the primary source of help when including a Scout with special needs. They are your partner to successful inclusion. Sometimes, if additional help inside the unit can’t help support the boy and his needs, it might be necessary to refer the boy and his parents to another unit that might be better equipped to handle the individual situation.
How do I deal with medication issues?
The BSA’s Guide to Safe Scouting states: the taking of prescription medication is the responsibility of the individual taking the medication and/or that individual's parent or guardian. A Scout leader, after obtaining all the necessary information, can agree to accept the responsibility of making sure a Scout takes the necessary medication at the appropriate time, but BSA policy does not mandate nor necessarily encourage the Scout leader to do so. Also, if your state laws are more limiting, they must be followed.