Wednesday, April 20, 2011

ISAP and Advancement Modifications for BSA

Hello all and welcome back, and thanks for coming back.

Yesterday, my youngest had his IEP meeting and will be making a transition from the Early Childhood Center where he has been for the past two years to a general education kindergarten with pullouts and a Social Communication Integration Program (SCIP).  One year to go until he gets starts his start as a Tiger and then I will have two in scouts. 

First it was the Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) from age two until age three and then an Individual Education Plan (IEP) but what about scouting. For most of us we have been through years of IEP's (we are on year two with one and three with the other) so for us it is common and logical to have something written into our sons educational plan that will allow them to thrive. Why not in scouts?

What about the scout that has issue(s) that prevents them from advancement and/or a required Merit Badge that is needed for advancement? What do they do and what can be done to help our scouts reach the goals they have in scouting?
We first have to look at the BSA Advancement Policy for some type of guidance and go from there. 

(Quoted from: Advancement Policies #33088, p. 40)
"All current rank requirements for an advancement award (ranks, merit badges, or Eagle Palms) must actually be met by the candidate. There are no substitutions or alternatives permitted except those which are specifically stated in the requirements as set forth in the current official literature of the Boy Scouts of America. Requests can be made for alternate rank requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class using the information outlined in this chapter. No council, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or to subtract from, any advancement requirements. The Scout is expected to meet the requirements as stated - no more and no less. Furthermore, he is to do exactly what is stated. If it says, "show or demonstrate," that is what he must do. Just telling about it isn't enough. The same thing holds true for such words as "make," "list," "in the field," and "collect, identify, and label."
It sounds very black and white but in all reality there are shades of gray. Cub Scouts is much more flexible than Boy Scouts but both offer the chance for all scouts to advance. For Boy Scouts each of the ranks including Eagle have different alternative rank requirements that scouts with disabilities have to choose from to still allow them to advance. 

The following are some areas to consider when you are looking for any modifications or adjustments with the scouting requirements. 


The wonderful website, Working with Scouts with Disabilities produced a outstanding document called an Individual Scout Advancement Plan (ISAP). Even though it is not an official BSA document, many Districts and Councils use this document to help when a scout is asking for a modification of one of the requirements. 

Here is a link to the ISAP (word document)

I have never used an ISAP before but from what I understand they are widely accepted and used among different Districts and Councils and the US. Before you use the document, the approval of alternate requirements should be discussed with the Scout, parents, and Scout Leader. The agreement is reached and forwarded for council advancement committee approval BEFORE starting to work on the requirement. It is up to the council advancement committee to provide final approval and make sure the different requirements fit within BSA guidelines. 

If you do use the ISAP, you will need to have documented medical records to support the need to the change in requirements. All documents that will you provide to the scout leadership will fall under the scout's privacy agreement and will only be used to make the determination if the scout will be allowed to use the revised requirement. 

If you have ever used one, we would love to hear your comments. 

Standard BSA Alternate requirements for 
Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class rank.
A Scout who has a permanent physical or mental disability and is unable to complete all of the requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class rank may submit a request to the council advancement committee to complete alternate requirements. Below are the procedures for applying for alternate requirements.
1. Do As Many Standard Requirements As Possible. Before applying for alternate requirements, the Scout must complete as many of the standard requirements as his ability permits. He must do his very best to develop himself to the limit of his abilities and resources.
2. Secure a Medical Statement. A clear and concise medical statement concerning the Scout's disabilities or limitaions must be submitted by a licensed health-care provider. It must state that the disability is permanent and must outline what physical activities the Scout may not be capable of completing. In the case of a mental disability such as a learning disability, an evaluation statement should be submitted by a certified educational administrator relating the ability level of the Scout.
3. Prepare a Request for Alternate Requirements. A written request must be submitted to the council youth development committee for the Scout to work on alternate requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks. The request should include the standard requirements the Scout has completed and the suggested alternate requirements for those requirements he cannot complete. This request should be detailed enough for the youth development committee to make an informed decision. The request should be prepared by the Scout, his parents, and his Scoutmaster, and should include a copy of the medical or educational statement as required in No. 2 above.
4. The Youth Development Committee Reviews the Request. The council youth development committee should review the request, utilizing the expertise of professional persons involved in Scouts with disabilities. The committee may want to interview the Scout, his parents, and the unit leader to fully understand the request and to make a fair determination. The committee's decision should be recorded and delivered to the Scout and the unit leader.
No council, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or to subtract from, any advancement requirements. For more detailed information about alternate requirements, see the Advancement and Recognition Policies and Procedures book.
Boy Scout Requirements #33216 p. 13

Time Extensions 
Requesting a Time Extensions is only given for those who are looking to complete the Eagle requirement. If a time extension is granted normally for situations beyond a scout's control, it is only given for about six months past the scouts eighteenth birthday. For those scouts that are have special needs, the extension has no limits. For more information on extensions, click here – Extensions. 

Work with your troop's Scoutmaster and committee to see what they can do for your family because as we know, every scout is different and they all has different needs.  I would hope that your troop would be willing to work with you to make sure that your scout has a wonderful experience in scouting. If you have any questions that are not addressed at the Troop level most Districts have a Special Needs advisor and many even have a Special Needs Committee that will be more than willing to help you out. 

This is just some food for thought to get the conversation started on how we will best serve our scouts. Some of us may never have scouts that need the ISAP, modifications or time extensions but it is nice to know that the scouts that do need these services and options still have a chance to fly like Eagles. 

I will be here if you have any questions and you are more than welcome to post them on the Autism and Scouting Facebook page: Autism and Scouting. 

Support A Scout 

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