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Potentially dangerous hobby, help with inclusion needed...

(9 Posts)
ginnybag Fri 10-Jun-11 13:45:05

Sparked by another thread running elsewhere, I admit, but I have just realised that I have been missing an obvious source of help for an issue I've had for awhile. If the wise women (and men) of MN can find five minutes, I'd be very grateful for the input.

I run a youth group based around the Games Workshop hobby. We're volunteer run and get no outside support. I 'inherited' the group about five years ago from the former leader, who himself had run it for about a decade, but who, with age and other time commitments, was struggling to keep it going.

For those of you not familiar with the hobby, it's basically miniature wargaming, sci-fi and fantasy based. Very, very geeky but great fun.

The membership of our club ranges from age 8 to whatever, is open to anyone with an interest, at whatever stage of the hobby they are at.

The only rules to membership are: You must have some passing interest in some aspect of the hobby, whatever that may be and your behaviour must be 'reasonable'. We have rules, but they're very simple. The only time we ever revoked membership was for a (totally NT) 14 year old who insisted that having porn on his mobile and showing it to the 10 year olds was a good idea, and even he got month's of warnings.

Here's where my issue arises:

We currently have a member of a number of years who wants his younger brother to come. Member is 13, brother is 11.

I've had a quick chat with Mum, as I do with all potential members, and both she and I have a number of concerns. Brother has quite severe ADHD and possibly some Autistic/Asperger's-like traits, so whilst we can both see the (potentially huge) benefits of a social hobby governed by a 300 page rule book!!, there's also the aspect of safety around the (unfortunately) necessary scalpel blades and paints that the hobby requires, as well as the issue of the value of the hundreds of little models lying around, which can break if picked up the wrong way.

We run, on an average week, with myself and my husband (plus our 16 month old) and one other 23 year old adult. That's it.

Mum can't come along - she has a four year old girl as well, and to be honest, a parental presence in that way would probably generate problems by itself eventually as one of the strength's of the group, for a lot of our members, is the freedom from what they call 'proper adults'.

So, hints and tips, please? How do I include this boy? As I said, I've never before said no to anyone until their behaviour earns it and I don't want to start now. We've had a previous member with much milder ADHD, but he was older and all that was really required was an occasional reminder to stick with whatever he was doing for the night and the odd ten-minute calm-down time out in the kitchen when he got particularly wound up with something.

Any thoughts would begratefully received and I apologise if you've managed to read to the bottom of this essay.

davidsotherhalf Fri 10-Jun-11 13:59:54

do you have an older more responsible member that you can trust to look after the new member? that way he may feel more comfortable and not feel like he's being watched all the time....also you could meet the new member before he joins and discuss rules etc with him.....could organise for new member to meet the older member at the same time try and build a friendship up between them before the new member starts

ginnybag Fri 10-Jun-11 15:46:51

I can certainly ask some of the older members to sit with him on a week by week basis - we do this with the younger ones, in any case. But I can't guarantee that any one person will be there from one week to the next. The adults we have are scatty - they'll turn up for three weeks and then we won't see them for three months, because they're busy/can't be bothered. My older teens are great, but are seasonal - we lose the lot of them around exam times and stuff.

Being honest, I cannot guarantee one to one support for this boy, much as I would love to, and certainly not from the same person week on week. That's why I'm on here, really. I need to know tips for managing him within the group, if that's possible. Although I can try to 'assign' a person each week (and I really can - I have fantastic group of older members who would be only too happy to sit and give a painting lesson or some such) I can't promise that it'll always be available.

Am I dreaming that we can include this lad? It'd mean a lot to his brother, who really wants him to join in with his hobby and I really do think it would be a good hobby for him to have - I've seen it work wonders for some 'borderline' kids we have and it's a great mix of intellectual challenge, social interaction and clearly defined rules, whilst being rich enough to be interesting for years.

Do any of you have children who do something similar and what, if anything, happens there? Do you think he can cope with the environment? Am I even right to more concerned about him coping with it than any other child?

davidsotherhalf Fri 10-Jun-11 16:21:19

lots of dc with adhd etc go to clubs, some may have a dx some haven't, this shouldn't exclude him from trying your group, if he copes with it he will come back if not he will say......i have 4dc ds 2 asd sld...ds3 adhd....dd1 asp and we have tried all different groups until something suitable was found for them. have you thought of doing it as a trial for a couple of weeks?

tabulahrasa Fri 10-Jun-11 16:31:48

DS has Asperger's and does/plays warhammer, we've never had any problems at all with leaving him in the shop to do whatever it is yous do with tiny people, tape measures and really expensive fake hills, lol.

In fact I've never even felt the need to tell the person running the club about his diagnosis - it's pretty obvious he has a speech disorder, but his other issues have never caused a problem. I'm sure they are aware of them to some degree but because he's always been fine, I've just never actually had a big conversation with them about it. (He is older than this boy though)

He likes it, he likes the rules, they make it all really structured so he knows exactly what is happening, he's never broken anything other than his own figures, he gets covered in paint, he's glued his fingers together and he has cut himself a couple of times - but nothing major, just fairly normal run of the mill stuff.

If he's interested in it, he may well be no more hassle than any other child, the only way to tell really is to try him.

I'd just keep a bit of an extra eye on him and see how he goes tbh, you'll probably find he's quite immature, but at a couple of years older than your youngest intake I'd have thought that was manageable. If he behaves in a way that is dangerous or innapropriate then you may have to discuss whether it's suitable for him, but I think if he enjoys it - it might not be an issue at all.

bigbluebus Fri 10-Jun-11 17:04:31

Is it possible that someone could find him an older mentor from outside the group who could come in for first few weeks just to 'help' him out and keep an eye on him from your point of view. Perhaps a teenager who needs to do something for the community towards their Duke of Edinburgh award might be interested in helping for a short while whilst you see how it goes. Lots of schools have D of E schemes and I think scouts/ cadets often do it too. Just a thought.

ginnybag Fri 10-Jun-11 17:07:03

Thanks davidsotherhalf

Tabulahrasa That's reassuring. I'm hoping the same thing will happen here - that the structure and the rules will give him access to a 'social' hobby. I'm not worried about the other's coping with any 'differences' - ) they've all got stuff they do that's considered 'odd', and 'weird' so they just don't notice.

When you're discussing in all seriousness the ballistic skill of a 25mm high metal model of a Space Elf, having spent all weekend dressed as a Goblin running round the local woods, you've got no room to comment on any quirks anyone else has!

None of us have ever been popular, and I don't think we have a single kid who hasn't been bullied for being the 'weirdy one', so maybe that's it!

WetAugust Fri 10-Jun-11 17:25:08

You should do a 'risk assessment' by identifying the potential threats and in tandem do an assessment of the 'reasonable adjustments' that would be required to suport his attendance and also mitigate the risks.

Those should tell you whether it's viable.

I'd ask the mother to come along to the first session - even if she has to bring the 4 year old along - and assess his behaviour.

If his needs are severe she should be in receipt of DLA and/or Direct Payments both of which coujld pay for 3rd party support for an hour or so to provide him with 1:1 during the session.

I don't think you should be expected to accommodate him if the parent cannot provide direct or indirect input.

smileANDwave2000 Fri 10-Jun-11 17:27:06

i would mainly(and i run a club myself) try to be inclusive , but also chat to the boy and parent/guardian about your concerns which are really the safety aspect as obviously you have a responsibility to all the club members, my main advice is ask his parents what if he does have a meltdown what do they do at home/school and make sure you do the same at the club ie; if he goes out the back to cool down or sit in a room alone for a bit , but to put your mind at rest most special schools do workshops and use equipment like you have mentioned and it is ok but you really need a strategy in place how to deal with it especially as there is a real safety aspect involved. as concerning an older child watching him im not sure i agree as if he did get upset there are health and safety and safe guarding issues involved here and i personally think thats a heck of a lot of reponsibility for another child. having said that I do agree a trial periods probably the best option as no one wants to stop anyone joining in when it really could be a fantastic hobby and help him make new friends ect. there is also another possibility concerning if he takes any medication can the times vary slightly to assist keeping him calmer so getting the parent in for a chats the best idea i think HTH

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