View Poll Results: What do you think about the resources available to support Special Needs in Scouting?

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  • There are enough, good resources available now.

    17 19.10%
  • The resources available are good, but there are not enough.

    52 58.43%
  • There are not enough resources and they are of a poor standard.

    20 22.47%
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Thread: Special Needs Scouting

  1. #1
    Michael Shanks shankers's Avatar
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    Special Needs Scouting

    SPECIAL NEEDS SCOUTING

    It is the Scout Association’s Policy that no young person should be prohibited from joining the Association on account of physical, social, educational or mental capability. Therefore, there must be hundreds of young people involved currently who have Special Needs, and probably a lot more who are not involved because they have special needs.

    My name is Michael Shanks, I am currently a Scouter with the Glasgow Disabled Scouts and a member of the National Commissioner (Special Needs) Support Team. I am currently working on a project to develop the resources available to leaders and advisers on the topic of Special Needs.

    Do you think we provide enough resources?
    What could we do better?
    What would you like to see?

    Your views are very important and I would like to hear from as many of you as possible. Either add to this forum or email:

    [email protected]

    Many thanks,

    Michael.
    Special Needs Support Team
    http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/ps/sneeds/

  2. #2
    DESC - Richmond RichmondDESC's Avatar
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    Difficult question. Our county has a special needs advisor and our district is in the process of appointing one, so in some respects I would say that we are fairly well provided for. The ACC special needs is very knowledgeable and she runs awareness workshops off her own back, sometimes as a part of other courses. She is only a phone call away and is always willing to help.

    However, special needs doesn't figure prominently in either the old or the new training scheme. The question is, does it need to be? I personally think no, as it is quite a specialised area needing people with the specialised knowledge.

    The main thing that I can see is needed, and this relates to most issues - not just special needs, is someone we can go to with specific questions. We are lucky in our county, others probably aren't. Is there a special needs advisor at Gilwell? Quite probably, but I don't actually know. If there is, then their details should be readily accessible on Scoutbase.

    I think one of the difficulties leaders face is ignorance, whether that be dealing with special needs, different cultures or religions, medical conditions and the like. I suppose in a way they all fall under special needs. Sometimes it is difficult, and maybe a little embarrassing, for a leader to ask a child or their parents about their needs for fear of upsetting or offending the parent. I am sure in reality the parent would not be offended in any way, but sometimes you could feel awkward asking.

    What makes this issue so difficult is that there is no one answer - everybodies needs are different. If I was to suggest one thing that would help then it would be to teach leaders how to talk to parents about their childs disabilities - then the fear of the unknown will be gone, as it will be unknown no more.
    You are only young once - but you can be immature forever!

  3. #3
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    Everyones abilities to do things are different whether they are classified "disabled" or not.

    Provided you are open minded and willing to think laterally, then there should be no boundarys. The most important part is that all parties are honest with each other and that the leaders are seen to make a reasonable effort to accomodate all of their YP. If our unit is holding a hike, it is obvious that our 2 physically disabled members can't fully participate. However, they help the leaders with the running of bases/preparation of refreshments etc at checkpoints so are as included as possible.

    We have 4 YP with various disabilities with an Explorer Unit of 30 and it causes no problems at all

  4. #4
    ASL Ryan G's Avatar
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    I'm on the ball today with all these debates going on!

    The night is young on this one, so I'm not going to contribute much (plus I have a lecture in 10 minutes!) but it seems to me that although Scouting's ideals are very worthy of this day and age, and the efforts made are valiant, we're all struggling to keep up.

    There's still uproar and opposition to girls in Scouting, with resources stretched and some Groups not being able to meet demands.

    Similarly with those who are "disabled" in some way. In many a school and youth institute across the country, there are specially dedicated departments to assist in these matters. Leading is almost like a full time job, you have to teach, engage, reward, promote and organise a lot of children. Many leaders who have no professional qualifications do this amazingly well, coping with the many, ever changing demands society thrusts upon them.

    But I think to continually thrust more and more of these demands upon them is a quick and easy way to deter them from volunteering. Ideally every not only does every district need a special needs advisor, but so does every group. Realistically it'll probably never happen.

    Talking with parents, getting assistance from district can really help, but when it comes to large scale implementation that can't always happen. Large groups can have greater demands for advisors, some parents are unwilling to support (not just limiting to those with children who have special needs). In the end people can and will get left out of the loop.

    Perhaps some form of more frequent adult training programme would be of assistance, I'm not sure, and I can't elaborate further because I have lessons!
    ASL | 1st Giffard Park
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  5. #5
    Michael Shanks shankers's Avatar
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    Thanks for all your comments so far - very much appreciated.

    There is a wealth of resources out there already, but I suspect they are not widely available. The National Commissioner for Special Needs, Sue Burton, is probably at the end of a phone line whenever you need her - as are many other Special Needs Advisers up and down the country.

    How many counties/areas out there have someone responsible for Special Needs?

    I think that Special Needs Scouting is an extremely important area to develop and ensure is sucessful. Every section, regardless of age, every group, regardless of background, location or number of leaders will be affected in some way by Special Needs - and it is critical that we get it right so these young people are as fully integrated as they can be.

    Please keep the comments flowing! Everything you say is being taken note of - watch this space for them being put into practice soon!
    Special Needs Support Team
    http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/ps/sneeds/

  6. #6
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    I do accept that these resources showld be available, but are they really that nessescary?

    On Scoutbase, it states that requirments for badges are free to be changed t suit a member with special needs. My sister is a Brownie (A bit different I know) and her pack just do things that are not by the book, they need no resources. They will bend things to allow her to take part to e best of her ability.

    So does Scouting really need all these resources??
    Matthew

  7. #7
    SL, AGSL, TA, NAA curtisuk's Avatar
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    most of scouting now is to best ability of the scout in question but the recourses are ther to help leaders who do not have a clue on that subject.
    use it or not its up to a leaders ability to know what resources are avaliable and if they are not sure thet should ask some one to point them in the right direction as I all was advis new leaders that sit befor me and others in the appointments commity and I know they all was mention in training.
    David Curtis
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  8. #8
    Michael Shanks shankers's Avatar
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    Again, many thanks for continued feedback.

    The resources available are not really to assist with running of programme etc, as this is just taken as granted. They are there however to assit leaders with more complex disabilities, and tips and tricks that could be used to assist them to make the job a little easier.

    For example, how much do we really know about Muscular Dystrophy? How to help someone with autism? How about dyslexia? This is the kind of support that we should aim to provide leaders - at the end of the day, without being politically correct, it is much harder work to have a Scout with Special Needs - but we can do some things to lighten the load at least slightly!

    Keep the posts coming!
    Special Needs Support Team
    http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/ps/sneeds/

  9. #9
    DESC - Richmond RichmondDESC's Avatar
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    This just through from our county Special Needs Advisor

    There are 6 updated factsheets available from Scoutbase:

    * Diabetics FS250009 (45KBytes PDF)
    * Asthma FS250018 (20KBytes PDF)
    * Speech Impairment FS250023 (49KBytes PDF)
    * Autism FS250025 (45KBytes PDF)
    * Cerebral Palsy FS250027 (46KBytes PDF)
    * Down’s Syndrome FS250030 (45KBytes PDF)

    So the information is there, it just needs good a communication system to let everyone know.
    You are only young once - but you can be immature forever!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Kastor's Avatar
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    I have someone with Asperger syndrome and the Scoutbase factsheet is next to usless. Most of the info I got about it came from the internet and the normal support groups.
    To get more kids we need more adults - are we getting the message yet?

  11. #11
    Member Calum's Avatar
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    I think a lot of buildings and groups have the facitilities for disabled Scouts (as lots are in church's and town halls etc.). Our group can't, as our hut was built in 1961, and comprises of two ex-POW huts. Our new hut should provide the facilities as far as I know. I also think it needs to be publicised more to the disabled children our there, who are probably unaware that they can join, or are discouraged for any reason. I think you're doing a great thing Michael, and just out of interest, how many are there in your group?

  12. #12
    Michael Shanks shankers's Avatar
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    Thanks for more feedback.

    The Glasgow Disabled Scouts is by no means the only special needs scout group in the UK, but is certainly one of the largest. We currently have around 90 disabled young people, in four sections (Cubs, Scouts, Explorers and Network). This results in more than 100 staff members - quite an operation!

    Many thanks for your interest.
    Special Needs Support Team
    http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/ps/sneeds/

  13. #13
    Hathi (ACSL)
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    It's been interesting reading all your comments. I myself are technically classed as 'disabled' with a hidden disability as I am diabetic. Personally I do not view this as a disability rather more a challenge. Having had it since the age of 11 (now 20) it did not get in the way of Scouting and in fact pushed me to do many things I would never have dreamt of. I had some great leaders who were able to have the backup there in case i needed it. Whilst it is not always easy the best thing is to give the young people their independance. Recently we've had a Diabetic cub in our pack and naturally as mum's do best (as I well know) they worry. Once I had a chat with the parents and told them some of the things I got up to they soon relaxed. Also having had a deaf cub for a short while I have found it's best to be aware of the issue but DON'T make it an issue, if they need help they'll ask or you'll soon notice.

    On a serious note I am more than happy to talk to anyone if they do have any questions, require advice or want a chat about Diabetes. I can be e-mailed any time at [email protected]. Obviously I am not a proffessional in the subject but sometimes first hand experience can provide that valuable insight.
    Last edited by thirddun; 12-02-2006 at 11:13 PM.
    Will

  14. #14
    Escouts Founder Richard's Avatar
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    Yeah I think that is generally the case in many circumstances where Scouting adapts and takes account, and manages with certain health problems people have.

    Sometimes its more straightforward to take account of the health issues people have. Othertimes it takes a bit more thought and preparation, but it can be done.

    The Special Needs advisers are a great assest, but also many people on this board, and around Scouting, either have dealt with these issues in a leader capacity, or have personally dealt with the health problem or may know someone who has.

    Its a very good point to note most of us will deal with or have dealt with some form of health issue within our Section.

  15. #15
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    Question disabilities

    our ESU has been asked if we would take on a disabled person. he is in a wheelchair but cant speak or use his arms or legs.
    we have mixed views about accepting him into our group.

    we would love to because it will be a relly good experience mixing with people that arent dissabled but are worried that if we change our programme too much for him he wont be doing things that normal people do which may be what he wants. also we would loose out on doing things that we enjoy doing!!

    any one got any ideas?? please email me!! [email protected]

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