Sunday, January 22, 2012

Special Needs Unit or Not?


Separation vs. Inclusion vs. Integration

Should my scout be in a separate unit?
Thank you so much for coming back to part of a series of blogs that I am doing on Separation vs. Inclusion and Integration within scouting.

In part one (Separation vs. Inclusion vs. Integration in Scouting), I looked at laying the foundation to frame the conversation. I gave my background and came up with three questions that will be addressed in this series of blogs and it ended with three premises. As a very quick review:


Please go back and read the first Blog to get the full context.

Questions:

How does Separation breed Inclusion with a final outcome of Integration within a scouting program?

Who should be in a special needs unit and who should be in typical unit?

How does my unit become more understanding and support the scouts that do have special needs? or How can our unit help other units?

Premises:

The first premise is that all units are in some way separated.

The second premise is that the ultimate goal is to provide access to a full inclusion scouting program.

The third premise is that we choose scouting to help our children build lifelong skills to help prepare them for the future.

Separation vs. Inclusion vs. Integration

Laying the Foundation -  Part 1

Should my scout be in a separate unit?

Separation does not mean exclusion -

Separation can lead to integration -

How typical units can help bridge the gap -

How can typical units can be more inclusive -

Should my scout be in a separate unit?

I started writing my blog about “Separation does not mean exclusion” but I realized that I missed a very important topic that really should be addressed before we can get to this question about how separate does not mean exclusion.  That question is if my scout should be in a typical unit or a unit that can provide extra care as a special needs unit might be able to?

Many scouting organizations around the world have units comprised of scouts with similar disabilities and abilities. For example, some are comprised of all scouts where all of the members have a visual impairment, they might be all or mostly deaf, they might have physical challenges, mental challenges or all of the scouts might be on the Autism Spectrum.  Some units might have a combination of disabilities or are Scouts for Life units (adults still past youth age allowed to continue in the scouting program because of their disability).

Even before you can make a choice between a “typical” unit and special needs unit you have to see if there is a unit that is special needs close to you. For the Boy Scouts of America (which includes Cub Scouts in the US) there are currently only 257 special needs units which serve about 5,250 youth (numbers provided by BSA national office). For the Girl Scouts of America, according to the national office in New York, they do not have a special identification for special needs groups and the policy is not to have special needs units but have all scouts be integrated into a troop. Despite this policy, some Girl Scout units have publicly identified themselves as special needs.  Many states don’t have any special needs units at all so the only choice is a “typical” unit or start one yourself (which is an extreme amount of work).

Autism and Scouting is currently working on a worldwide project to identify and list all known special needs units as well as list “typical” units that make a commitment to provide training to adult leaders, education for youth within their groups and special considerations when working with scouts on the Autism Spectrum, with Sensory Processing Disorders and related conditions. If your unit would like to know more or know of a company that would like to be a proud sponsor of this program, please e-mail us at autismandscouting@gmail.com or john@autismempowerment.org . We are hoping to launch this new program shortly and will keep you updated.

Things to consider

We have put together a series of questions that we hope you will find helpful in trying to determine if a traditional unit is best for your scout or a special needs unit would be best. If you are lucky enough to have a specialized unit in your area, then you can make that determination which kind of unit is best for your scout.  If you don’t have a specialized unit in your area, I will address these questions in part 5 and part 6 in this series of blogs.

How typical units can help bridge the gap - Part 5

How can typical units can be more inclusive - Part 6

I will give my personal story on why a typical unit was the right choice for my oldest and why a special needs unit will be the right choice for my youngest.

1 - What are the sensory issues, educational issues, communication issues and physical issues?  The parents and caregivers know the scout the best. Make a realistic list of all of the strengths and weaknesses. You will need to sit down with the leadership of any unit and go over both lists with them. Any unit that you go into will need to know what is going on with your scout. Autism and Scouting has put together a Sensory Form for Scouting units to use in order to work with scouts with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder but can be used with any special need. We will be more than happy to send you the form upon request for free. You can either leave a note on the facebook page or e-mail us.

AE Sensory Processing pdf

2 - Is your scout is in a traditional school setting and if so, how are they doing in that setting? Scouting can be in some ways like school and in some ways can provide you a glimpse about how your scouts might do socially and academically. If they are in a traditional classroom with or without support and they are adjusted and progressing well without much delay then you should take that into consideration when looking at what type of scouting unit would be best suited for your scout. If they are struggling, having sensory issues, concentration issues or any other issue that is impeding their progress then that should be considered as well.

3 -  Does the leadership know and understand the special needs of your scout?  This means they are not just giving lip service and saying “yes, I get it and we will take care of them”. Retention has been a challenge for many scouting units in the US and many times units want to get the numbers to see who will stick.

It is strongly recommended that you have a meeting with the unit leader and if the unit has some type of committee that the leader is also included in the meeting. For Cub Scouts, Joey and Beavers having the Den Leader in the meeting is important as well. In the meeting let them know about your scout’s strengths and weaknesses. The unit should be aware of any sensory issues and at the meeting, you should bring along a completed Autism and Scouting Sensory Form to let the leaders know what the issue will be.

This is a meeting where you should be interviewing the leaders to see if this will be a fit for your scout as well as your family. Scouting doesn’t just include the scout, it can and should be a family experience.

Most units will be more than willing to add new kids who have special challenges but sometimes the leadership in a traditional unit is not prepared to work with a scout on the Autism Spectrum or one that has Sensory Processing issues. In some cases leadership will seem reluctant to add scouts with special needs because they have no experience or understanding on what Autism and are either fearful or unwilling to reach outside themselves to expand their knowledge.

4 - Has the leadership worked with scouts either in the present or the past that have similar conditions as your scout? As every scout on the Autism Spectrum is unique, if the leader has worked with somebody with co-conditions and sensory issues near to what your scout has, they will have a better understanding what it takes to work with scouts with Autism, Sensory Processing Disorders or related conditions.

This is not to say that you should eliminate a traditional unit just because they have not worked with scouts with Autism in the past. I would say the vast majority of leaders would be willing help as best they can the scouts under their care, especially if you come in with a positive attitude and a willingness to assist and help educate about your son or daughter.

5 - What kind of resources does the leadership have available in order to best service your scout? You should look for a unit that can work with you and your scout to give them the best possible accommodations or be willing to work on putting into place accommodations or an action plan to best have the support the scout.  Is the unit willing to have a recovery room or a place the scout can go to take a break if needed? Is your unit willing to put in place alternate rank requirements if your scout is unable to complete the ones that are spelled out in their advancement manual? How flexible is the unit leadership in working with the scout.

In some cases the unit will not be able to meet the needs or special accommodations that the scout requires. In some cases they will want to, they will just need to have extra training and resources in this area.

6 - Does your son or daughter have an IEP (Individual Education Plan or eqivalent) and what is in it to provide them support? Many schools try to take care of their students that have special needs and use an IEP. In the IEP, it should spell out all of the different accommodations that the student needs and that the school will be providing to support the further education of the student. Some of these techniques might be able to transferred into the scouting arena.

If you feel comfortable with the leadership, share what is working for your scout in the school setting. There might be a chance that the same techniques might be employed. Please note that if you are seeking different requirements within the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), you will need to provide a medical record as well as any school documentation (including the IEP if the scout has one). Leadership in a Special Needs unit are there because they are dedicated to serving those scouts that might not be as successful in a more traditional unit and it would be strongly recommended that you provide them as much information as possible.

Personal Story

Let me first say that I strongly believe that many scouts with either high functioning Autism or Asperger’s would be best served in a more traditional scouting unit unless the social communication issues are extreme, there are considerable physical limitations, bullying is happening and it is not stopped, leadership is unwilling to work with the scout and their family or the scout has extreme sensory processing issues where resolutions can not be accommodated by the group. Social communication with these scouts is one major issue that can be addressed and worked on within a traditional unit in hopefully within a non-threatening arena.

For my oldest, he was in scouting for two and a half years (between 3rd and 4 grade) when he received his diagnosis of Asperger’s. Up until that point he was kind of like his Mom (who now also has a diagnosis of Asperger’s) and a bit quirky. He made his first real friend in scouts in third grade as a Bear and still hangs out with this boy even though the friend dropped out of scouts two and half years ago. He has been able to practice joining in games, leadership (he currently is a Patrol Leader and was our troop’s first Webmaster prior), he works on adult interaction when working on merit badges and has been placed in situations to work out problems.

In the movie, “Temple Grandin”  Temple, an american doctor of animal science, best-selling author and woman with high functioning autism who thinks in pictures used the visualization of doors being placed in her way as obstacles. She was taught that when you go through those doors, the world can open up to you with new possibilities. With my oldest son, a traditional unit has provided a series of doors that he has been able to walk through. Once he passes one door (rank or achievement) there is one more door ahead of him that he can work on.

For my youngest, he will still have similiar doors, but the road to get though those doors will be much harder and will take different strategies and much more direction and concentration. So for him, he will start out this coming spring in a unit that is a Sensory Friendly pack that will also have a designation as special needs (I like to think different needs).  My youngest has Autism and is on the higher functioning side but he has a great number of impulse challenges and sensory processing issues.  He is very oral in terms of wanting to put things in his mouth, he has the tendency to bolt or wander, he has many sensory issues with food and some textures, impulse issues and volume control issues just to name a few. At this time, a smaller unit that is more specialized in providing very individual support is the best place for him to start out as a Tiger Scout.

After spending about a year in our ESD 112 Birth to 3 program where we had teachers and therapists come weekly to our home, our youngest started preschool at the Early Education Center (ECC), a school within the school district for those with a variety of special needs. The first year he was there, his classroom had only children with special needs. The second year, the classroom had the core group but added in some typically developing children to act as peer mentors. At the start of the current school season he was placed in a traditional Kindergarten classroom with a shared support aide and weekly pull-outs for social group, speech and OT.

Using the model of slow integration that he had in a school setting, one goal that we will have for him as long as he continues to progress is to have him transition into a typical Boy Scout Troop. The doors for him may be harder to open or may take more effort but we think he is up for the challenge and would benefit greatly from the experience.

Final Thoughts

It will all boil down to if you think your scout will thrive more in a different needs (Special Needs Unit) or a more traditional unit. Some scouts may be best served by a traditional unit, however if they are in early elementary school and may already be behind socially, you may find in the beginning that a special needs unit with more one-on-one attention will be a better fit.

For some scouts a traditional unit will just not work because of all of the sensory issues that can not be addressed properly or a variety of other issues. For them, a sensory-friendly type of unit which uses strategies and more one-on-one support allows the scout a better opportunity to have access to a successful scouting experience in more of a “no apologies” type atmosphere. When you’re around other families that “get it” or at least are walking in shoes that came from a similar shoe store, the environment of acceptance is often more conducive to growth.  If there is not a unit like this in your area, consider starting one. The chances are you are not alone and all of the hard work in starting a unit will be paid back tenfold when you see the scouts do amazing things and their lives are impacted by a scouting experience.

Whichever way you choose, make sure to always  Accept, Enrich, Inspire, Empower!

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email
john@autismempowerment.org or autismandscouting@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Separation vs. Inclusion vs. Integration in Scouting


Two weeks ago when I did my blog about the first Sensory Friendly Cub Scout Pack formed in the Cascade Pacific Council that is dedicated to special needs scouts, we received a question asking asking if the US promotes separate groups for Scouts on the Autistic Spectrum and if we were promoting inclusion and integration.

If you would have asked me two months ago, I would have said having a vast majority of scouts with special needs integrated into typical units would be the ideal.

Now two months later my thoughts have changed a bit.  

When I first thought about doing this blog series, I knew I had an obligation to address the subject because of my new role as Unit Commissioner for the only current officially registered special needs unit in the state of Washington. (Information about our state was given to me today in a phone call with a representative at the National Boy Scout Council in Dallas.) I thought I would address inclusion and integration. But like my pastor who can do a whole sermon on one verse from the bible, I really discovered that there is so much to say about this topic and to do just one blog on the subject would be a great disservice.

I think this will be a great series of blogs and I hope that you enjoy them. These are meant to be thought provoking and bring up topics and subjects that spur conversations in order to make your units better.

Separation vs. Inclusion vs. Integration

Laying the Foundation -

Separation does not mean exclusion -

Separation can lead to integration -

How typical units can help bridge the gap -

How can typical units can be more inclusive -

Laying the Foundation

To lay the foundation for this discussion, it would be helpful for you to understand where my background comes from. We need to have a starting set of questions and then come up with a set of premises. Once we have a starting point, we can then get into the meat of the conversation.

In this blog, I will give you my background, we will come up with the questions and then set the up three premises. So let’s get going.

Background

The vast majority of my experience has been with the Boy Scout of America program with Cub Scouts (youth first grade to fifth grade) and Boy Scouts (boys fifth grade and above). I do have an understanding of the Girl Scouts program as well as the Royal Rangers (youth group based on a scouting model) but the information I will be sharing can be used in almost all scouting programs.

Currently I am a Unit Commissioner for the only special needs unit in the state of Washington and one of three in the Cascade Pacific Council according to the Boy Scouts of America national office. Currently there are 257 special needs units that serve 5,350 youth. The unit that I support is a Cub Scout unit. I am also an Assistant Scoutmaster for a local troop that my oldest son is attached to. In Cub Scouts, I was an Assistant Den Leader for a wolf den for a brand new pack and then a Den Leader while my son was a Bear, Webelos I and II.

I am only one of two Disabilities Awareness Merit Badge Counselors for the district that I am serving. I have provided in person autism awareness and skills training through Autism Empowerment and being a volunteer with the BSA for the Cascade Pacific Council Excellence Training Program. Through Autism Empowerment’s Autism and Scouting Program, I also provide training to other scouting units upon request either in person or via the web. We also provide training materials to teach leaders on how to better programs to scouts who are on the Autism Spectrum and/or who have related conditions such as SPD or ADHD.

I have two sons who are on the Autism Spectrum. My oldest is a Boy Scout and is a Star Scout on his way to Life. He has Aspergers and has been in a typical unit.  My youngest will be a Tiger Scout in June, he has what is described as more classical autism and will be in the Sensory Friendly Special Needs Unit that just started here in Vancouver. Part of the conversation will be why for my oldest a typical unit was the best and why I am convinced that a Special Needs unit will be the best for my youngest.

The Questions

The first question that in my estimation is wrong; How does a scouting program that promotes Inclusion and Integration allow for Separation?

I think the correct question is: How does Separation breed Inclusion with a final outcome of Integration within a scouting program?

The second question should be: Who should be in a special needs unit and who should be in typical unit?

The third question is; How does my unit become more understanding and support the scouts that do have special needs? or How can our unit help other units?

These are the three questions that I will be addressing in my upcoming blogs.

Premise

The first premise is that all units are in some way separated. The separation is mainly due to geographic reasons (by country, region, area and neighborhood) and that is reasonable but it is still separation. In the US, there is a separation by gender for some groups (Girl Scouts, American Heritage Girls, Impact Girls, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Royal Rangers). Most scouting programs have separation by age (Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Boy Scouts, Venture and Cub Scouts, Joeys, Beavers etc...). Some scouting units even have separation within the scouting program. For example, in the US, the Mormon faith have separate LDS units for their boys and girls programs.

The majority of scouting units are more traditional in how they approach scouting (camping, hiking, backpacking, etc) while others separate themselves as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) units where they will focus more of the time on the science behind things. There are even other specialty themed units forming such as Soccer and Scouting.

We are all linked by the ideals of scouting are are part of the whole scouting movement.

The second premise is that the ultimate goal is to provide access to a full inclusion scouting program in which every scout can take part to the best of his or her own personal ability. Since words are very important, lets define inclusion as “The act of including or the state of being included.”  

Inclusion should include the full scouting experience no matter what level of scouting. From the the basic unit programs, to area or regional programs to national and international programs, all should grant full access to all no matter what the scout’s ability.

The final premise is that one of the reasons why parents make the choice to have their son or daughter in scouting is to have them learn lifelong skills that they will be able to transfer into society and allow them to be part of the communities that they belong. Integration can be defined as “an act or instance of combining into an integral whole.”

One of my goals (I think like most) for my boys is to have them learn skills that they will be able to take with them as they integrate into society. All children will have to integrate in some fashion as they transition from grade school to middle school and high school and so on.

I would imagine that almost everyone would want their children to have the ability to integrate into the whole of society or at the very least work towards that goal.

So, you now know where I come from, we have the questions and I hope we can all agree on the premises. We can now start to address and get into the meat of the conversation in the next blog coming soon.

I would love to hear your comments and if you have any thoughts ahead of time, feel free to drop me a line and share your thoughts.

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email
john@autismempowerment.org or autismandscouting@gmail.com











Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Start to Something Special

About a week ago, I wrote a blog about the new Sensory Friendly Cub Scout Pack that is being formed in Vancouver, WA. At that time the unit still had not yet met but all of the parts of launching the pack were starting to come together.

Now one week later, the unit has had its first meeting under its belt. I was there and it was amazing to see how this new unit will be changing lives one family at a time.

Pack 2 opened with a traditional flag ceremony and opening prayer. 

Each boy was then given an arrow necklace and it was explained that the scouts could earn beads for attendance, for wearing their uniform, for participation and a variety of other ways to earn beads. This was to allow the scouts to have the opportunity for immediate reward and recognition. The arrow was to be a symbol of working toward the Arrow of Light. 
The boys then broke into a den meeting where they used a visual aid to start to learn the Cub Scout Law and Oath. Since this first meeting had five boys, all of them met together. The boys did a great job staying focused.

The first den meeting also saw the beginning of their first service project. The boys worked on cat blankets that will be taken to the Humane Society and given to a lucky cat. A field trip to the Humane Society is already set for the 19th of this month. I love the fact that this sensory friendly Cub Scout Pack is making and giving blankets that will provide cats and kittens with sensory support.
   

After cleaning up the service project, it was off for a popcorn snack, the ending prayer, group pictures and then the first meeting of Cub Scout Pack 2 was in the books.




If you happen to be in the Vancouver, WA area and are looking for a sensory friendly Cub Scout Pack for your son or you are interested in volunteering for this new group, please contact John at autismandscouting@gmail.com for more details.
 

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email
john@autismempowerment.org or autismandscouting@gmail.com

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Three weeks in December! The formation of a Sensory Friendly Pack


I hope all are having a very Happy New Years Day. I wanted to share a very special story about a very special New Cub Scout Pack.  

The following blog is dedicated to all of the hard work that has gone into forming a new sensory friendly pack here in Vancouver, Washington. If you belong to a sensory friendly pack or troop or unit, please let us know and we would love to share your story as well.

“Three weeks in December! The formation of a Sensory Friendly Pack.”

As many of you may know, my wife Karen and I are owners of Count Your Beans. Our business has sold collectible dolls and bears online in various venues including our website, eBay and Amazon for the past 13 years.  We also founded a non-profit 501(c)(3) public charity, Autism Empowerment this past June. At some point one of our goals is to work on projects for Autism Empowerment on a full time basis in 2012 but in the meantime, bills still need to be paid and being in online retail, the Christmas season in the busiest time for us. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the craziest time and it is not uncommon to spend 12 - 14 hours per day on the business and still feel like we’re in catch-up mode.

Scouting takes kind of a backseat during this time of year. Since Justin doesn’t really like the cold, we tend to skip the November and December camping. There were only two troop meetings including the December Court of Honor and there was also a service project, Scouting for Food (an event that both Ryan and Justin took part in this year). The main thing scouting related that I was working on was the support I was giving via the Autism and Scouting website page on Autism Empowerment and support from e-mail and Autism and Scouting on Facebook.

Here is what happened the last three weeks of December and the birth of a Sensory Friendly Cub Scout Unit.

Wednesday, December 7th - I received an e-mail from Brian Blachly, our District Executive asking if I was going to be at the Roundtable (not the pizza place) the following evening. Round table is a monthly gathering of leaders within the district (including Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venture Scouts) to further training and is a place to network with other leaders and exchange ideas.

Brian knows about my passion for the scouting program and knows my passion to bring the scouting program to scouts who are on the Autism Spectrum as well as with other special needs. Brian also came out to support me when I gave a presentation the the Autism Society of Southwest Washington early in 2011. So I figured he wanted to talk to me about doing some further training or something like that. I checked in with Karen to see if we had anything going on that night and she said she would watch the boys.

Thursday, December 8th - I was able to meet up with him and he explained that he was meeting the next day with a parent who was looking for a Cub Scout Pack for her son that had a greater understanding of sensory processing issues and how to work with children on the Autism Spectrum. He had conversations with her and put forth the idea of starting the first Sensory Friendly Cub Scout Pack in Vancouver, WA with her as the Cubmaster.  He asked me to come on board as a Unit Commissioner to support the new unit and to come to the meeting the next day with the Cubmaster to be. He also said that he had already set up a Join Night for the group for the following Thursday. Not really knowing what a Unit Commissioner was I asked him what a Unit Commissioner does along with some other questions.

He told me that a Unit Commissioner typically helps three or four units but in this case I would be a Unit Commissioner with only one focus and that would be this new Pack.  My role would be as counselor, teacher (about the program), advisor, liaison between unit and district, liaison between unit and Boy Scout units and unit QA (quality assurance). I have to say that I was very honored but I was already very involved with Justin’s Boy Scout Troop (Troop 462) and I told him so but I would need to talk this over with Karen before I added anymore scouting related commitments, especially at our very busy time with Count Your Beans. When I got home, I told Karen about the offer and the new unit and she thought that it was an interesting concept. A lunch meeting the next day was in order just to talk about the concepts.

Friday, December 9th - I arrived a few minutes early and talked with Brian and then Deanna Pehrson arrived. I came to find out this was the same person I had e-mail correspondence with trying to find a Pack for her son and she also attended my class on Autism and Sensory Processing needs in Scouting a month and a half earlier at the Cascade Pacific Counsel’s Excellence and Training Conference.

We talked about the idea of starting a new unit that had at its core, the concept of being a place where scouts could experience the full scouting program in a sensory friendly setting. It would be a place where parents did not feel they needed to explain themselves or say “I’m sorry” for untraditional actions of their scouts and where other parents would be more accepting and understanding of those who had special needs. Extra care would be given to training of the adult leaders in order to provide an extra level of training for the leadership. In addition, the use of more visual aids such as timers, schedules and access to a sensory break room would be just some of the differences.

Brian explained that he had already set up a join night that would be in seven days, showed us a stack of join night fliers that he had done and explained what was needed to start a new unit:

A Charter Organization
A Committee Chair
A Cubmaster
Two more adult leaders
Three Committee Members  
Have at least 10 scouts
Have a place to meet
Secure seed funds to pay for pack expenses
Unit Commissioner to be assigned by the District Executive

Coming out of this first meeting, the Cubmaster was the only person in place. Later that day I joined and accepted the position as Unit Commissioner.

Sunday, December 11th - Deanna, Gary (Deanna’s husband), Karen and myself met to discuss and put together the ideas that came from the first meeting two days prior and how this new unit was going to be different and how to get the unit up and running in a timely manner.

The desire was to create a place where the scouts could have fun, grow and be themselves where in a fully accepting atmosphere with an effort to accommodate each sensory need or special need. As parents and caregivers need support too, the idea also came up to include a support group for parents. We came out of this meeting with a plan for the marketing of the new group throughout the next week in order to try to reach the requirements to charter the new unit. This was going to be a huge feat because this was only two weeks before Christmas, it was right before kids went on Winter Break from school and it was a time of year that I suspect most people have a focus on other things. It is a slow time in Scouting for those who are active. What would it be like recruiting during a period when it might not be ideal to make a sudden decision about a new activity for one’s son and family?

Monday, December 12th - Plans for the new pack were starting to take shape and things were starting to happen. I had secured scouts to help out at the first join night and started the process to get Den Chiefs for the new pack. Marketing was starting to kick into full gear with the many marketing efforts by Karen through Autism Empowerment, Deanna meeting with some contacts at the local ARC and myself contacting many autism and special needs groups in the Vancouver area. The pack number was also assigned, it was going to be Pack 2.

 
Tuesday, December 13th - Social media for the formation of our new pack began to take shape with the addition of the Pack 2 Facebook Page and Twitter account. By Tuesday night, we were already receiving e-mails about the new pack and in addition, three possible charter groups were identified. 

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Wednesday, December 14th - The unit goals were developed as well as a mission statement. Welcome packets were put together and the first Committee Meeting was being set up. The first tentative Den Meetings were set for Thursday, January 5th.. The final details for the join night were being put into place.

Thursday, December 15th - Only seven days after the first meeting, Pack 2 had its first  join night. With this short notice we had 6 families show up with a few others not being able to make the meeting. A potential number of scouts and leaders were identified. Pack 2 also received notice that they had a charter organization willing to commit.

Friday, December 16th - Things were starting to kick into high gear, Karen of Autism Empowerment joined the team as the Committee Chair and the website was created and was live. In addition to this, a location for the meetings was secured and generously donated but we needed to have a final walk through.

The week of Christmas, many of the details were being worked out and the families took a small breather in order to enjoy time with our families.

Monday, December 26th - The tour was taken of the River Rock Church and it was determined that the space would work great and the fact that the Church was donating the space fell right in line with the start-up budget. After the tour, the first official Committee Meeting took place and after three and half hours, many issues were determined on to better serve the in coming cubs.

Thursday, December 29th - Three weeks after that first conversation with our District Executive, the unit was close to being ready to be chartered.

There was a Parent Planning meeting where we met new potential scouts and their parents and received some completed applications.  Another join night is planned for January 12th.

Cub Scout Pack 2 is so very close to be the first Sensory Friendly Cub Scout pack within the Cascade Pacific Council.

A Charter Organization Done
A Committee Chair Done
A Cubmaster Done
Two more adult leaders (Still in need)
Three Committee Members  (have 5) Done
Treasurer Done
Advancement Chair Done
Marketing Chair Done
Committee Member Done
Committee Member Done
Have at least 10 scouts Just a few short
Have a place to meet Done
Seed Funding Done (thanks to Dr. Wolcott & Autism Empowerment)
Unit Commissioner Done

Friday, December 30th - We have our EIN Number, our meeting minutes and Deanna and Karen open up the Cub Scout Pack 2 bank account.  We are on our way.

The Cubmaster has really done an incredible job putting together the program and we believe will be an outstanding leader. She has a service project already set and a field trip to deliver the completed service project by the middle of January. The plans are to offer a year round and full Cub Scouting Program (including hiking and camping) in a sensory friendly setting where Scouts Can Do Their Best



I will be providing a update via this blog on the Pack’s progress. I will tell you want is working well and what areas that can be improved. The Cub Scout Pack 2 and Autism Empowerment’s Autism and Scouting project would like to network with other sensory friendly groups.

One of the goals for Autism and Scouting it to build a database of sensory friendly scouting groups throughout the country so that caregivers can go to a single place to find out if a unit is sensory friendly. We will be working on putting together a matrix that would be used to get your unit put on the list. Please look for that in the near future. In the meantime, if your unit would like to network, please e-mail me at autismandscouting@gmail.com or john@autismempowerment.org with your unit’s information, we would love to get into contact with you.

Wishing you all a very Happy Scouting Year filled with success after success. I will be blogging more in 2012 and have some ideas already in the pipeline.

Autism Empowerment Facebook Page - http://www.facebook.com/autismempowerment
Autism and Scouting Facebook Page - http://www.facebook.com/autismandscouting

email
john@autismempowerment.org or autismandscouting@gmail.com