Saturday, August 27, 2011
Happy Birthday Autism and Scouting
Yes, today one year ago the concept behind the on-line support network of Autism and Scouting was started. There are many great Scouting and Autism resources but very few that combine the two (the ones out there are very good) and none that I could find that combined the power of Facebook.
When I first started, I thought that would grow but not as fast as we did. We first started on as a Facebook group (which now numbers 143). With the way groups were changed on Facebook, it was clear that Autism and Scouting would be best served by moving to Facebook Page (which now numbers 99 – was hoping to get to 100) to allow more functionality. We quickly added a dedicated e-mail address at email@example.com and twitter as well.
Autism and Scouting now only serves the BSA (Boy Scouts of America), but we have members who are from the Girl Scouts as well as scouting units around the world. We currently have members from eleven different countries from five continents (none from Antarctica or South America yet). Not going to hold my breath on Antarctica - LOL.
Being able to bring people from different backgrounds and different perspectives is a powerful tool to help out sons and daughters to be successful in any endeavor but it is essential to be a community of ideas where scouting is involved.
Today, on this anniversary I was blessed with two very special gifts. The first was at a council meeting where it was confirmed that I will be presenting two classes at an upcoming council wide training conference (formally known as POW and Advancement Extravaganza). The title of course will be Support for Scouts with Autism/ADHD and other SI (or something like that). I am really hoping for a great turnout for my class when the event takes place in November and will have scout leaders from all over Oregon and Southwest Washington attending. This is a chance to let leaders know what they can do foster a more successful atmosphere for those scouts on the Autism Spectrum. I am very proud of my council for seeing the value in such a class and thus offering it to its leaders.
The second gift was I was able to see my oldest (has Aspergers) receive the rank of Star today and our troops Court of Honor. He has had many struggles but has really been involved within the troop a great deal and is finding his place. He turns twelve in October and wants to slow down and just enjoy himself while working on merit badges (his words) and mom and dad agree. It is so important the he has his goals respected (not anybodies else) and he can learn to enjoy both group and individual activities.
His younger brother (who as Autism as well) did not attend (home with a sitter) but he is looking forward to starting out as a Tiger in the fall of next year. He already know “Do your Best” as the Cub Scout Motto and the Pledge of Allegiance. I know that Scouting will play a large role in his development as well.
I truly believe that the different scouting programs throughout the world can benefit most children on the Autism Spectrum. Autism and Scouting can only get stronger with more members and more ideas. We know that no two children with Autism are the same but many have similar paths and it one idea can be shared that will benefit another scout and family then it will all be worth it. Seeing each scout be successful one at a time, one hurtle conquered and one smile at a time is a goal we can all get behind.
We have come a long way in the past year but we have great plans for the next year. I hope to have my book about Autism and Scouting competed (still need to find the time) as well as work on spreading the message that scouting can really aid those on the Autism Spectrum.
Our goal for the short term is to keep spreading the word, keep on attracting families that support those scouts who have Autism, attracting all leaders if they have scouts on the spectrum or not at this time (they will at some point) and scouts both past and present who we can help support that have Autism. Please ask your Scoutmasters, Assistant Scoutmasters, Cubmasters, Den Leaders, Crew Leaders, Ship Leaders and committee members to come Like Autism and Scouting on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Let’s get past the 100 mark and move on to the second hundred. This will only help us to support our scouts in their quest to be the best they can be.
I would like to say a special Thank You to my wonderful wife Karen who holds down the fort at home and watches Ryan (that is a huge job) while I go out with Justin at his meetings and outing. None of this could even be possible without her Love and Support.
Accept, Enrich, Inspire, Empower.