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listen, can’t concentrate on a project or even disrupts the whole troop by constantly wandering off? The first step is to talk to the

Scout’s parents, which calls for some advance planning.

Partner With Parents Whether or not their child has been diagnosed, it’s time to start building a partnership. Sometimes the parent will take the lead, as Paige Lawson did when her son Wolfgang, 9, was diag- nosed with ADHD two years ago. “I talked to his pack leaders. I told

Behind the story of every successful Scout with ADHD is the story of a parent or adult Scouting leader who cared.


Jen Reid and Kelli Fisher, who teach a class titled “Including Scouts With Special Needs,” have compiled a list of common mistakes adults make with Scouts who have special needs:

f Raising your voice f Insisting on having the last word

f Clenching your hands or using other tense body language

f Insulting or embarrassing the Scout fBribing him fAttacking his character f Mimicking him fComparing him to other Scouts f Using “command and demand” leadership

fHolding a grudge. (“If the kid is a pain one day, start a new page the next day,” Reid and Fisher advise.)


and unable to focus that he stands out among kids his age, he might be among the 3 to 7 percent of school-age children who have ADHD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This percentage is likely higher among Scouts because, as CDC data reveals, the disorder affects more than twice as many boys as girls. A child with ADHD experiences

multiple stimuli — say, a parent setting up snacks, another boy tapping his foot, a fire truck going by outside and the leader talking to the group — as equal. Faced with all of this stimulation, “ADHD kids don’t know what to block and what to focus on,” explains Jen Reid, who co-teaches a class, “Including Scouts With Special Needs” at the University of Scouting of the Flint River Council near Atlanta. “Their mind keeps shifting from one thing to another.” How can you cope with a Scout who can’t sit still, doesn’t seem to

them that a lot of activity keeps him busy and moving, and that keeps him from getting upset,” she says. “I explained the medication he takes so they knew if he started behaving oddly to let me know.” If Wolfgang balked at an activity, she suggested letting him sit by himself, because he’ll usually join in later. “It’s about keeping open and

honest communication between both sides,” says Lawson, whose son belongs to a pack in Kansas City, Mo. Now the leader asks her questions

whenever they need help solving a problem with Wolfgang. “Parents are the child’s biggest

advocates,” agrees Kelli Fisher, who co-teaches the University of Scouting class with Reid. “Ask them what works and what doesn’t. Find out signs of a pending meltdown and how best to redirect it.” The partnership you build with

parents of a special-needs Scout will enrich the whole troop. “If you get parents to step up and help you with their child,” Reid says, “they’ll help you with other things as well.”

Improve Scout Meetings “Redirection” is a crucial tool to use with inattentive or disruptive Scouts. After stating the unit’s “ground rules” for behavior — some leaders do that as often as every week — you can “redirect” or remind a Scout what’s

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