Monday, April 18, 2011

Disabilities Awareness Merit Badge

Hello Scouting Friends and we are on day two!

I may not blog here every night but on those days when I find some nuggets of knowledge or something worth sharing I will for sure be burning up the blog-is-sphere. 

Some days, I may go back and re-post some of my old posts from my other Blog; The Life and Times of John Krejcha which is cornucopia of things that I write about (Scouting, Autism, day to day family life stuff and sometimes even politics).   Here I have reserved this blog to deal with Autism and how it relates to scouting. Although I will write mainly about Boy Scouting and next year both Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, I think the scouting concerns and resolutions can be transferred to any type of scouting around the world (Boy, Girl, Cub, Church Scouting or any scouting around the world). My goal is to unite us to help us better understand our kiddos and provide a place where we can better serve their needs. 

By the way, I do tend to go off on tangents from time to time but I will end up to the place I was meaning to be so I hope you hang on for the ride. 

Today, here in Vancouver, Washington the City Council recognized the fact that it was National Autism Awareness Month with a proclamation.  We were not able to attend because J, my oldest now being the Webmaster had to attend the Patrol Leader Council. 

Although it was sad that we could not attend, I was able to make the most of the scout meeting in so many more ways. It worked out well because during the meeting I was able to start 6 Scouts off on a path to earn the Disabilities Awareness Merit Badge with 3 more starting next week for a total of 9. It was fitting that it was Autism Awareness Month and I was the Disabilities Awareness Merit Badge counselor and it was also a way pay my respects to the city where we live.  The Disabilities Awareness Merit Badge is merit badge that not many scouts get and I wish it would be one of those required ones because of how important it is to recognize the fact all people have a contribution to make no matter what abilities they have. 
We only met for a short time and we talked about Disability Etiquette and Person – First Language (I will go more into that another time) but I was so impressed with the scouts and their understanding about how much they have to contribute to society. We talked about Bill Gates (rumored Aspie), Albert Einstein, Vincent Van Gogh, Stephen Hawking  and James E. West (BSA scouters should know this one) and how people should not be defined because of what they are on the outside but who they are in the inside. It was also interesting to note that 5 of the six had two years or less in Boy Scouting. The three that will be joining are older scouts of another Scout Master but I think they will get a lot out of it as well. 

My hope and wish is that this Merit Badge gets more acceptance and more units will take up this Merit Badge as a way to spread acceptance and tolerance. I have heard stories of scouts with Autism being harassed by other scouts, bullied and made fun of. I have heard stories of scouts having to go from one troop to another and yet another to find a place to be accepted. In fact I have heard this story from a prior scout who was in the troop I am currently in but it had happened many years ago. I have not seen this behavior at all, in fact the current leadership is outstanding in working with all of the boys. I am very proud of the current leadership of the troop and how they accept all scouts. They know how passionate I am about having all be accepted and that I would not stand for such behavior. 

To me these troops that had allowed this to happen need to re-read the scout law and oath and do some internal work on providing a more secure environment for all. To those troops where it is still going on, the is a need to help educate the scouts and foster a more positive environment. To those parent's of these scouts, this is your chance to get involved to help spread the education and get your unit back on the scouting path.

I do have some other pithy comments about tonight's Troop meeting but I will save that for Wednesday. I may not be blogging here on Tuesday; I will be blogging at The Life and Times of John Krejcha about IEPs.  My youngest (who has autism also), is in the process of transitioning from Preschool at the Early Childhood Center to Kindergarten in the fall and we have his IEP meeting and maybe an Autism Support Meeting on Tuesday so it will be a busy day.

Please join us at our Facebook page: Autism and Scouting 

Thank you so much for stopping in. 

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