Communication, Communication and this would be a great opportunity to work on Disability Awareness merit badge for the troop. I went to National Jamboree and had 8 scouts go through that merit badge and it was profound on how it made them better leaders in scouts and later as leaders in the community. I would try to work this out with the troop. I have had many scouts with challenges and you have to sit down with them and your troop leaders (Yes Patrol Leaders Council) and discuss this where everyone is a part of navigating this for the best for all concerned. It’s an opportunity for all to grow in understanding and being a troop that cares for each other. I love working with these scouts and though it takes more time it is worth every minute of it. You have to tailor things but it does not mean you bend the rules or change requirements ( only if necessary with Council approval and the proper paper work). One of my best leaders is a young man with Autism he completes the requirements to the same standard as the other scouts and they know it and respect him for it. Would not trade him for the world! God sends blessings in many forms- he is just one of God’s blessings!
There are some great tips here! I’ll try not to repeat the same stuff but there is one thing I didn’t see on here already- I’m not sure how large the troop is but it can really help to make sure he is in the right patrol, perhaps with other kids who are not as prone to loud outbursts. Start the youth training you mentioned within his own patrol so that the youth can advocate for your son in small ways- voting for a skit in the campfire program, for example, rather than a loud repeat-after-me style song. If the other kids understand that that is the best way for everyone to have have a good time, you can protect the “youth led” aspect of the troop while still protecting your son.
Good news - it can and does work having a special abilities son in Scouting. My autistic son started in Bears, crossed over to a troop (with special needs scouts already), achieved his Eagle and is now an ASM while going to community college.
It is not always easy however. Every youth is different and every troop is different, so you have to gauge your actions and/or involvement on a case by case basis.
Regarding #1 - for the first year or two, I did spend what some might regard as an ‘unacceptable’ amount of time side by side with my son. But it was crucial and it was as much for him as it was the troop. I’m guessing your son is probably pretty smart, but keeping them on track with all the sensory issues is definitely challenging, so staying close at first can be a key to keeping them involved (yeah - troop yells and song time at camp are never fun for him…). My time with him was basically like that of an aide or note taker in school. Keeping him focused, using an occasional tap on the shoulder when he needed to focus, keeping a lookout for when he needed a break, etc.
#2 - that’s a judgement call. Our goal was to get him integrated into the troop as much as possible, not the other way around. But a little education and knowledge for fellow scouts never hurts. I wouldn’t necessarily ask them to modify meeting structure or plans, but expect to work hard the first year or so two integrate your son into the flow. There will still be times later as they progress that it may be needed from time to time, but over the long run you’ll find you can spend more & more time in the background (but always vigilant!).
#3 - again, a judgement call. The grass may seem greener, but until you are actually there, it’s hard to know if a different troop will be better, worse or the same. Also, Scouts age out, new ones come in as do adult leaders so tomorrow is going to be different than today. I knew the troop was right for him when he isolated in his tent the first long term campout (spring break) and the SPL arranged to have the campfire the scouts were gathering around outside of his tent. He wound up doing shadow puppets on the wall of his tent to the entertainment of the other scouts and the SPL commented, ‘…you are now my favorite little scout…’
#4 - if it were me, no. The benefit of the group dynamics they get exposed to are well worth the effort. Plus they learn (like in life) that it’s better for them to be judged against others for what they can do. IN a lone scout program, they miss a lot of that.
#5. Again, if it were me, no. It’s harder, but more rewarding to stay in the group.
I am Den Leader and troop advancement chair and by Day an Intervention specialist. It really depends on your child. We have several ASD members and all act very differently and parent have different expectations. I also know that in our troop we do mentor the SPL when needed to help with Special needs. I have found in most cases I need to mentor the Leader who just do not understand. If your troop know your son and they get along then not changing is probably better than not, but I agree as a parent you have to look at the mix. There were a few boys in the troop that were not as helpful as others and in time they grew up or quit and it has leveled out again.
One of my students, who is very high functioning just earned his Eagle, he learned a lot of things and did cause I am sure many issues, because he will point out what he feels is you not acting the way he feels you should. The adults needs to learn and if you feel that you can walk away for a while let him try it alone for a while. It maybe helpful to have him prepped with the activity if your troop plans well.
Scouting is the best for him to learn skills.