Mental Retardation, Scouting for Youth with
Jay Thal (jay.thal@TCS.WAP.ORG)
Sun, 8 Feb 1998 13:11:29 EST
SCOUTING FOR YOUTH WITH MENTAL RETARDATION NO.
Over two decades ago United States Federal law mandated that children with
disabilities be afforded an education in the least restrictive environment.
This did two things: it required that school districts provide access to full
educational opportunities rather than excluding them from education because
modification of curricula or facilities was inconvenient or costly; and, that
to benefit the children, and to the degree possible, students with disabilities
be included in regular educational settings rather than isolated from their
peers. This later concept is called mainstreaming.
U.S. Scouting has, and continues to have, units which are school or
institutionally based which bring Scouting to groups of youth isolated because
of their disabling conditions. But, Scouting encourages units to embrace all
within mainstream units.
All youth are unique. Each bring different strengths and gifts to the unit.
Each learn from one another, irrespective of their own strengths or gifts.
Scouting should be a microcosm of that idealized society we strive for as part
of our developmental goals.
This is one of a series of brief reviews of U.S. Scouting publications which
provide support, guidance, and direction to units and leaders in the belief
that Scouting and Scouts gain from inclusion. My intention is to share this
information so that Scouters will be encouraged to expand their recruitment
efforts. It will be republished from time to time, or sent upon request.
This is also intended to encourage Scouters to secure the original and complete
publications from BSA, for their own use. The antecedents for many of these
publications date to the mid-1970s. Perhaps BSA will, sometime, publish a list
of them in its annual catalog, as well. Policies or initiatives of other
Nations would be welcome and shared.
Among the publications are:
A Scoutmaster s Guide to Working with Scouts with Disabilities;
Scouting for Youth with Emotional Disabilities; Mental Retardation;
Physical Disabilities; Hearing Impairments; Blind and Visually Impaired;
Learning Disabilities; Exploring;....
This Preamble will be included with each review.
SCOUTING FOR YOUTH WITH MENTAL RETARDATION.... No. 33059
1995, ISBN 0-8395-3059-5, 17 pages
*Many boys with mental retardation frequently surprise their parents, teachers
and friends with their accomplishments when they are provided with
opportunities to learn and succeed. This is particularly so when they can
participate in Scouting and other leisure activities alongside their
nondisabled peers.* - Dr. Alan Abeson
Scouting is for all youth, just some learn differently. The developmentally
disabled may, simply, process information slower (like a PC with a lower clock
speed) but they can learn, retain that knowledge, and enjoy like anyone else.
Scouting helps because it fosters faith, hope, understanding and desire.
Scouting helps because it develops adaptive skills. Rewards and recognition
The chapter on why Scouting helps addresses the Scouting Spirit; frequent
recognition; leaders learning as they teach; selecting the unit; and the right
Important questions are answered about mental retardation: What is it? What
are adaptive skills? How many people are affected? How does it affect the
individual? How is it diagnosed? What is Mental Age? and, What are the
Youth with mental retardation can be registered before completing the
requirements for the Scout badge. Memorization need not be required to learn
the Oath, Law, Slogan or Motto, an understanding of the content is the goal.
Advancement requirements can be both modified and tailored to the individual
need. Guidance on membership, advancement, and alternative merit badges is
Group activities, games, ceremonies, and uniforming provide structure and
enhance learning. The same texts Scouters use with regularity: Woods Wisdom;
songbooks; Boys Life provide the activities for learning by doing.
Article XI, Section 3, Clause 19 of the BSA Rules and regulations reads, in
part: ...under such rules and regulations as may be prescribed upon
consultation with appropriate medical authorities, registration of boys who are
either mentally retarded or severely physically handicapped...as Cub
Scouts...over age 18 as Boy Scouts, or Varsity Scouts, and registration of
young adults...over age 21 as Explorers, and the participation of each in the
respective advancement programs while registered, is authorized.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City