Aspergers - I'm a Cub Scout Leader - advice needed please

(14 Posts)
RobotLover68 Thu 03-Oct-13 11:43:33

I hope this is the right board, if not can you point me in the right direction please!

I'm a Cub Scout Leader and am about to take a Cub who has aspergers - at this stage it is as much as I know (ie. I don't know degree of severity or any other issues yet)

Any advice that people could give me to enable me to give this young person the best scouting experience possible would be gratefully received.

VenusDeWillendorf Thu 03-Oct-13 11:56:35

I've not much advice for you but I would contact the special needs section of this site.
Also contact the Aspergers society for some advice.

Fwiw most of my dcs classes have someone with AS in them.

If the boy is badly affected and his behaviour is very pronounced you may find that other parents complain a lot about him, and it may well be at he's not able to cope with a large group.

I know from my own experience, that having paid over a thousand pounds for tuition, I was really pissed off that there was such a boy in my Dds drama class. He was very disruptive of the class, as he screamed and flapped and ran around and fled out of the room, nonstop for the hour, and he also hid under furniture screaming every week, and had to be cajoled, and have one on one attention paid to him. The other kids didn't have any tuition or attention paid to them while he was like this.

His mother was very lovely, and the teacher was very lovely, and all the kids were very accepting and were very lovely, but the numbers dropped off in the class, as it was too stressful for the other children to have someone so stressed and unable to cope in their midst, and they weren't learning anything other than what this little boy needed.

You may need more help in the class, if his behaviour is very affected.

SilverApples Thu 03-Oct-13 12:10:13

Tou need to meet his parents and ask what they think he needs to support him. Every child on the spectrum is different.
FWIW, my Aspie is now an Explorer, having started in Beavers. He has never been a flapper, or a screamer. He was explosive under stress, and found team games difficult. I am a huge fan of the Scouts, they were fantastically supportive of him accessing a mainstream activity and enabling him to socialise.

What helped were clear, consistent rules that were adhered to,
explanations about what was going to happen, before things happened.
the Beavers and cubs used a yellow/red card system to warn him if he was OTT.
Being able to sit out of an activity and rejoin if he felt he could handle it. Having a space, a chair, a corner where he could retreat to if he needed it, and without the other children bothering him.
He excels at the skills-based sections, camping, hikes, watersports and has learned to be part of a team because of the support and input of the leaders and his group.
Talk to the parents. Thank you so much for giving this child a chance, rather than backing off and thinking it will be too difficult before you've even started.
If I can be any further help, pm me.

moldingsunbeams Thu 03-Oct-13 12:45:39

Agree there is such a big spectrum of needs. Depending on the child and the severity mum or dad may need to stay for a while.

For my dd and my friends ds being allowed to sit out or go somewhere quieter if things got too much was a massive help as was knowing what was going to happen activity wise the next week and being reminded on the night.

Mine likes to be in control, I do not mean she rules the group, what I mean is she likes to be a helper, she likes to be the one carrying things, at the front of the queue or whatever because then she knows what is going to happen next.

Have rules that are very clear and always follow them up.

Be careful when joking, mine takes things very literally.

Neither of ours are runners or hide under tables although dd spins in circles when she is stressed and now no one takes any notice.

and thanks for asking how you can help, people like you who bother make a massive difference to our kids lifes.

RobotLover68 Thu 03-Oct-13 13:33:52

Thank you for your advice so far - from this I can compile a list of questions to ask mum to get as much information as possible - I have 3 assistant leaders and 3 young leaders (explorers) and about 24 cubs in total so hopefully we can help him fit in and make new friends and enjoy new experiences. I run a very tight ship and my cubs all know where they stand with me. It sounds as if a firm line would be extremely helpful in this situation.

I am discussing it with my GSL tonight, but I know this child has already been a Beaver in another area (house move) so he is probably already well versed in Scouting routines. I have no objections in taking any cubs, the most important thing to me and my team is that the parents are open in informing me of any issues/difficulties.

PostBellumBugsy Thu 03-Oct-13 13:44:50

RobotLover, it is so great that you are taking the time to find out about Aspergers. You should really be commended for doing it.

As for what to expect, it will depend on the child. My DS is ASD / Aspergers and will have different issues to another ASD child.

I always give a written sheet of information to any group that my DS is joining.

I've found group activities to be a real challenge for my DS. He is fine with instructions from adults and is very keen to stick to the rules, so is relatively easy for an adult to manage. However, he finds interaction with his peer group a nightmare. He is the kind of child who will dob another child in for breaking a rule and then can't understand why all the children hate him. He will think nothing of correcting other children too, if they are wrong. He finds team games bewildering because he has no sense of team at all & cannot for the life of him anticipate what someone else might do. He also really struggles with social cues and is very, very literal. Can't make eye contact either, which has got him into trouble on so many occasions with adults who don't understand the autistic spectrum!

Good luck - I really, really hope it works out for your cub.

moldingsunbeams Thu 03-Oct-13 14:06:39

" He is the kind of child who will dob another child in for breaking a rule and then can't understand why all the children hate him."

Yes to this, it is a standing joke in our house that if any of the family are ever in a court of law and dd is there we are all stuffed as she would dob the lot of us in!

PostBellumBugsy Thu 03-Oct-13 14:08:32

LOL moldingsunbeams - that made me chuckle. Yes, we'd be doomed too if it ever came to that! grin

prissyenglisharriviste Thu 03-Oct-13 14:13:08

It will be fabulous grin.
Yes, of course, talk to the parents - you could also ask them if they would mind you contacting his old beaver leader to ask if there were any methods they had used to successfully integrate.
I ran a cub pack with well over half of the boys dx with ADHD, and our Kim was an older scout with aspergers. grin

Scouting is great for kids with sn - but each youth is different and will struggle with different things. The very fact that you are asking means that this cub has the very best chance of success in your pack. Have fun!

RobotLover68 Fri 04-Oct-13 12:36:36

Spoke to mum - I was able to ask lots of relevant questions without sounding like an idiot - he starts next week - thanks for all your help everyone

PostBellumBugsy Sat 05-Oct-13 21:43:56

That's great. I hope all goes well next week.

OddBoots Sat 05-Oct-13 21:48:41

You've probably seen it but in case there is a Scouting factsheet about Asperger's in case it would be useful for you or the assistant and young leaders.

Mummyoftheyear Sun 06-Oct-13 11:17:54

You're so fantastic for giving it forethought and trying to provide the best experience of scouting possible for this little lad and his peers. Wish more teachers and leaders were as upfront and open to asking for advice. You're right to do so as children with these types of difficulties often need certain accommodations, routines, ways of being spoken to or helped. Even more so than most children who aren't on the SEN spectrum, they benefit from continuity.
These little guys are also hugely individual (i.e. I've never met two aspies who are the same or who respond well to the same accommodations/ provisions / way of care ).
I'd echo the advice already given which is to contact the parents and ask TK have a chat about how best to help his experience be a positive abc enjoyable one, what diets of behaviours / characteristics night yuh notice , how best to handle these/ trickier moments. How to avoid the more negatively associated responses. (eg if he doesn't like being in large groups, loud noises, etc.).
The response you've had about a little boy who spoilt the scouts for the rest of the children was horribly scathing. Clearly, that little guy needed more support. As a parent with a little boy who has difficulties (as yet in diagnosed and almost certainly high-functioning), I feel absolutely outraged at the selfish 'NIMBY' reaction of parents. Where exactly would they have our children put? Certainly not near their previous normies!!! It's blummin hard enough to be a parent of a child with difficulties without social stigmas and alienation dished out so frequently by, quite frankly, ignorant and sheltered/ fortunate parents who have no need to deal with the daily trials, tribulations and terrible worries that we parents have to deal with in a daily basis. If all you have to deal with is a child who squeals under the table, be a decent soul and suck it up - thankful that your child doesn't have such difficulties and that these aren't difficulties that YOU need to deal with!

DrCoconut Wed 16-Oct-13 21:39:28

Our experience of scouts was not on the whole positive. DS1 has ASD and was undergoing assessment at the time. The group leaders obviously had no diagnosis but they knew there was a problem. They made almost no effort to accommodate his needs and he hated going. So we let him drop out as the effort of getting him there and the stress was awful. It sounds great that you want to find out more and welcome the child. I would suggest a discussion with the family as they will know best what is and is not appropriate.

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