Monday, July 30, 2012

A Mom's Perspective on Scouting

Greetings to all and I hope all our Autism and Scouting readers are doing well.
 Today, we wanted to give you a preview of our next installment of Autism and Scouting Radio which will be on Tuesday July 31st from 1:00 - 1:30 pm PST . Our special guest interview will be with Erika Schron who has a unique perspective on the scouting program. She is mom of three scouts, each who has unique challenges and has had to overcome many obstacles.

Erika has served in a variety volunteer positions within the scouting world including Committee Member, Secretary and Treasurer and she will soon be a merit badge counselor for Animal Science, Veterinary Science, Dog Care, Pets, Nature, and Disability Awareness for the California Inland Empire Council, High Desert district.

Her oldest son (20) is currently on a Scouting extension. She has also had experience with the Lone Scouter program within the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

Erika has been homeschooling her 3 boys all with special & gifted needs since 1997. In 1999, she began advocating, consulting, writing & speaking about homeschooling Special Needs children through the Journey of Learning Academy. Her focus is on ASD as well as Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).

Erika was also a California Homeschool Network Special Needs Contact from 2002-2005 as well was the California state representative for UnlockingAutism CA from 2003-2007.

She has self-published 2 books and is writing her 3rd. She moderates several Yahoo Groups: ASLearningAtHome, HomeschoolingBoys-CA and SpecialNeedsHSCA.

You can also find her on Facebook at any of the following: Erika Schron, Journey of Learning Academy (http://www.facebook.com/JourneyofLearningAcademy), or ASLearningAtHome. During her family’s many years of homeschooling and their journey with multiple neurodevelopmental challenges, Erika enjoys sharing her experiences through many different educational methods, curricula, therapies and research.

Erika has been a big supporter of the Autism and Scouting Facebook page and group for a long time. We look forward to an educational and entertaining interview.

Show day will be Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 from 1:00 - 1:30 p.m. PST / 4:00 - 4:30 p.m. EST.
There are a couple of ways to tune in:

1) You can call in live at (347) 855-8132.
2) You can go to the following link:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autismandscoutingradio/2012/07/31/a-moms-perspective-on-scouting

If you miss the initial broadcast, it will still be available on demand at the above link. We are also developing an expanded Autism and Scouting page where we will list all our broadcasts future and past.

Here are direct links to both stations of Autism Empowerment:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autismandscoutingradio
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autismempowerment

We invite you to come follow our shows and share the word about our new stations with your family, friends and social networks. The more we can spread the word, the better of a collaborative community we can develop!

So far, the response has been wonderful for both stations. We are glad so many people like us and are interested in tuning in to see what we have in store for the future. If you missed our first broadcast or any of our other shows you can always listen to us on demand in our archive section. Here is a link directly to our Welcome to Autism Scouting Radio broadcast.

We also wanted to provide a link to our Welcome to Autism Empowerment Radio broadcast because this is a really great show that explains who Autism Empowerment is (we’re a 501(c) non-profit public charity), what our mission is and what our four foundational pillars of Accept, Enrich, Inspire and Empower mean in terms of the programs and services we offer and develop. It’s a 30 minute show that givea a great overall at look at where we’ve been in the past year, what we’re doing and where we’re going.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autismempowerment/2012/06/14/welcome-to-autism-empowerment-radio

If you know of anybody that you would like to see interviewed or you have a topic idea for a future broadcast, please let us know by emailing john@autismempowerment.org

Accept, Enrich, Inspire, Empower!

To learn more about Autism Empowerment, a 501(c)(3) public charity and to help financially support our Autism and Scouting Program, please visit:

Autism and Scouting Program, please visit:Autism Empowerment - http://www.autismempowerment.org

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

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

Autism and Scouting Blog - http://autismandscouting.blogspot.com/

Autism and Scouting Radio Blog -  http://www.autismandscoutingradio.blogspot.com/


email  - john@autismempowerment.org  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Gilbert Ranch Calling - A Journey with Autism

This blog is being started at about 4:00 am on the 25th of July and I know it will not be posted for a few days. I am writing this in my "cabin" and am nearly in tears. This is yet another personal blog but it helps illustrate why I have so much passion for the scouting programs and the benefit for those on the Autism Spectrum.
                      
Some have said I am on a mission (yes), some have said that it is an obsession (I prefer very passionate), some have wondered if it is about ego with something to prove (nowhere close), but laying here in the quiet silence of the outdoors, all I hear is a calling by God to continue the work I have started with Autism Empowerment’s Autism and Scouting program.
                      
Four years ago I was laying in the very same campsite here at Gilbert Ranch at Butte Creek (in northern Oregon at the foothills to the Cascades) and was wondering what my future had to offer and how life had so much changed. About six weeks prior, my youngest son was diagnosed with autism and we didn't know if he would ever speak again. Coming into this camping outing (four years ago), we were about two weeks from my oldest being officially diagnosed with Aspergers. (We had the appointment and were 100% sure the diagnosis was coming.)

It was my oldest son’s first camping trip. He was a few months shy of 9 and I recall not sleeping well because of so many thoughts running through my head about what was to come and still being in the grief cycle that seems like a never-ending wave of highs, lows, twists and turns for parents and caregivers of those on the autism spectrum.

Now flash forward four years.  I am now back at Gilbert Ranch and my youngest son who recently turned 6 is having his first camping outing and we are in the very same campsite I was in four years prior. To add to the sweetness of the moment, my oldest is here as a Den Chief for the Webelos II and it is an entire family event. I am not sure how many joint camping events the boys will ever do, but having it be their first together here at Gilbert Ranch, to me this place will always be in my heart as well as the scouting program.
                       
To me, it is a sign from God that I am on the correct path to help promote acceptance, to help enrich both the scouts on the Autism Spectrum and the leaders that work with them, to provide inspiration for the scouts on the spectrum to continue in scouting and for the leaders to get into each scout's world. With training, tools, acceptance, enrichment and inspiration, I believe that empowerment for scouts, their families, their leaders and their peers within the scouting community can not only be possible, it can be something incredible.

I could provide you a Top Ten list of why scouting is wonderful for those on the Autism spectrum or list off the aims of scouting but that would not be too exciting. What I can do is provide you a very simple story that started feet from where I am writing these words... and speaks volumes for why I so believe in the scouting program.

Four years ago two young boys who just finished third grade spent two nights camping and three days together both with what the world would call quirks. This was the boys’ first campout and they were tent mates.  A year later one boy left scouts while the other one went on. What never ended was that bond formed and to this day they are still best friends. Friends and interpersonal relationships can be an extreme challenge for those on the Autism Spectrum, these boys became best friends. I know great things are ahead for both, not sure how life will treat them, but I would I put money on the fact that they will always be best friends.

Lifelong Friends Forged in Scouting
                          

Fast forward, four years, this photo says it all.

   
New Best Buddies 
That is why I will go on with my calling....

I will post this when I get back and then I will do a blog about the adventures of these next few days.

It is now about 4:30 and I am sure I will not be able to sleep. Thank you so much for reading.

Accept, Enrich, Inspire, Empower!

To learn more about Autism Empowerment, a 501(c)(3) public charity and to help financially support our Autism and Scouting Program, please visit:

Autism and Scouting Program, please visit:Autism Empowerment - http://www.autismempowerment.org

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

Autism and Scouting Facebook Page - http://www.facebook.com/autismandscouting
email  - john@autismempowerment.org  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tiger Cub Ryan and his view

We are so happy to say that the Autism and Scouting Radio show is being very well received all over the world  In recent broadcasts I have had the pleasure of interviewing Tony Mei, the BSA National Chairperson for Special Needs, Sean Williams, the creator of the Great Race 2 Autism Awareness and Adam Cox, Cubmaster and District Training Chair.

To listen to any of these shows in archive, please go to:
On Friday, we are going to start a new segment called “Inspiration from the Spectrum”. This will be where we will showcase scouts who are on the Autism Spectrum and talk about their successes and challenges.

Today, we wanted to give you a preview of our next installment of Autism and Scouting Radio which will be on Friday July 20th from 1:30 pm - 2:00 pm PST . Our special guest interview will be with Ryan, a Tiger Scout who is on the Autism Spectrum and his Akela, Karen.

Ryan is a Tiger who really loves being in scouts and is part of Cub Scout Pack 2. At approximately 18 months, Ryan stopped meeting his milestones and began regressing. He stopped talking (it seemed like he had lost his words), began pointing and grunting and would spin often. He was soon thereafter diagnosed with autism. Through a lot of hard work and in-home therapy, he eventually started to sign and later regained his speech. He then had two years of pre-school at the Early Childhood Center. Last fall, he entered a mainstream Kindergarten with SCIP and pull-out learning supports and has been making great progress.



In the fall of 2011, Ryan joined the Royal Rangers, a scouting program within our church and earned the ranks of Antelope, Ram, Elk, Caribou and Beaver. He also earned his Community Helper and Flag badges.


He has been watching his big brother be successful in scouting and was really excited to get started. He was able to join Cub Scout Pack 2 in June of this year where he has been very active.

He just recently completed his first night of camping and has earned his Bowling, BB Guns and Archery Belt Loop. He is currently working on this Bobcat badge and should have it complete by the end of Summer.

We will also be joined by his Akela, Mom Karen who is also the Committee Chair for Cub Scout Pack 2.

We for sure have no clue how this will go; I think it may be a bit crazy and all we ask is that you grab your seat and hold on for the ride.

Show day is Friday, July 20th, 2012 from 1:30 - 2:00 pm. PST. There are a couple of ways to tune in:

1) You can call in live at (347) 855-8132.
2) You can go to the following link:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autismandscoutingradio/2012/07/27/tiger-cub-ryan-and-his-view

If you miss the initial broadcast, it will still be available on demand at the above link. We are also developing an expanded Autism and Scouting page where we will list all our broadcasts future and past.

Our next show scheduled show after Ryan is Thursday, July 31st, 2012 from 1:00 - 1:30 pm. PST when we talk to Erika Schron. I will have a blog about what we will be talking about this coming weekend.

If you know of anybody that you would like to see interviewed or you have a topic idea for a future broadcast, please let us know by emailing john@autismempowerment.org



Accept, Enrich, Inspire, Empower!

To learn more about Autism Empowerment, a 501(c)(3) public charity and to help financially support our Autism and Scouting Program, please visit:

Autism and Scouting Program, please visit:Autism Empowerment - http://www.autismempowerment.org

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

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


email  - john@autismempowerment.org  


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Talking with Scouter Adam

Greetings to all and I hope all our Autism and Scouting readers are doing well. I can’t believe that it is almost the end of July. Welcome to all.

What an amazing couple last radio broadcasts! We would love to hear your feedback and if you know of anybody that might make for a good interview, please let us know.

We have also set up a new blog site just for the Radio Broadcasts. To see all past shows and to see who is coming up, you can go to the following:
http://www.autismandscoutingradio.blogspot.com/

Today, we wanted to give you a preview of our next installment of Autism and Scouting Radio which will be on Thursday July 20th from 1:00 - 1:30 pm PST . Our special guest interview will be with Mr. Adam Cox who is also known as “ScouterAdam”.


Adam is an amazing scout leader who is dedicated to bringing scouting to youth with all abilities. He is currently the Cubmaster for Pack 221 in Portland, OR. He is also the Training Chair for the Pioneer District and he likes to joke that he is addicted to Roundtable meetings and anything scouting.  

In addition to his training that he gives through the Boy Scouts of America, he also offers both a blog and Podcast called ScouterAdam which can be read and heard here: http://scouteradam.wordpress.com/  

In the blog he talks all things scouting and is an amazing supporter of the scouting program. I strongly urge you to check it out.

Adam attained his Wood Badge Beads in March of 2009 and was part of the Beaver Patrol (the same as Sean Williams our last guest). In 2011, he was also a Woodbadge Troop Guide for the Bobwhite Patrol.

In addition to scouting, he a family man with a son in Cub Scouts and a daughter in Girl Scouts. Again being the joker that he is, he wanted people to also know that he is also a Platinum member of the Holiday Inn and MVP for Alaska Airlines. (Maybe he can get me a First Class upgrade next time I travel!)

We will focus on his role as a Cubmaster and how to work with parents that might not understand parents and scouts on the Autism Spectrum. We will also talk about training on a district level and what can be done as well as at the unit level. I am sure that Adam will have some stories that will be entertaining as well.  We have a lot to cover and this is one you will not want to miss.

Show day will be Thursday, July 26th, 2012 from 1:00 - 1:30 p.m. PST / 4:00 - 4:30 p.m. EST.
There are a couple of ways to tune in:

1) You can call in live at (347) 855-8132.
2) You can go to the following link:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autismandscoutingradio/2012/07/11/tony-mei-and-working-with-scouts-with-disabilities

If you miss the initial broadcast, it will still be available on demand at the above link. We are also developing an expanded Autism and Scouting page where we will list all our broadcasts future and past.

Here are direct links to both stations of Autism Empowerment:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autismandscoutingradio
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autismempowerment

We invite you to come follow our shows and share the word about our new stations with your family, friends and social networks. The more we can spread the word, the better of a collaborative community we can develop!

So far, the response has been wonderful for both stations. We are glad so many people like us and are interested in tuning in to see what we have in store for the future. If you missed our first broadcast or any of our other shows you can always listen to us on demand in our archive section. Here is a link directly to our Welcome to Autism Scouting Radio broadcast.

We also wanted to provide a link to our Welcome to Autism Empowerment Radio broadcast because this is a really great show that explains who Autism Empowerment is (we’re a 501(c) non-profit public charity), what our mission is and what our four foundational pillars of Accept, Enrich, Inspire and Empower mean in terms of the programs and services we offer and develop. It’s a 30 minute show that givea a great overall at look at where we’ve been in the past year, what we’re doing and where we’re going.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autismempowerment/2012/06/14/welcome-to-autism-empowerment-radio

If you know of anybody that you would like to see interviewed or you have a topic idea for a future broadcast, please let us know by emailing john@autismempowerment.org

Accept, Enrich, Inspire, Empower!

To learn more about Autism Empowerment, a 501(c)(3) public charity and to help financially support our Autism and Scouting Program, please visit:

Autism and Scouting Program, please visit:Autism Empowerment - http://www.autismempowerment.org

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

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

Autism and Scouting Blog - http://autismandscouting.blogspot.com/

Autism and Scouting Radio Blog -  http://www.autismandscoutingradio.blogspot.com/


email  - john@autismempowerment.org  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

“Glad my Child is Normal”

Welcome back to my Blog! I hope that you like the new look, we have added many new tabs to help support leaders and parents and we will be adding even more in the future.
Autism and Scouting is a program of Autism Empowerment a 501(c)(3) non profit charity that relies on the public support in order to keep its programs going. To all of those who have given, thank you so much for your support and we hope others will consider helping keep programs like Autism and Scouting around for a long time.

This is somewhat of a personal blog. I had debated back and forth if I should share this story or not. I made a post on the Autism and Scouting Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/autismandscouting putting out a situation with some of the details changed and the response was amazing. I feel compelled to share the full story, we would love to hear what you have to say either as a comment at the end of this blog or on our Facebook Page.

“Glad my Child is Normal”

At the start of June, our youngest was able to officially join Cub Scout Pack 2, which is a Cub Scout Pack in the Vancouver area that we helped co-found with the Cubmaster Deanna Pehrson in December of 2011. Pack 2 is the first Sensory Friendly Cub Scout Pack in the State of Washington and as such, has gotten a lot of press and the attention of both the District and Council.

So one of the local camps was having a Tiger Days for brand new tiger scouts. Since it was kind of short notice, only my son from our new Tiger Den was able to make it. Karen (the Tiger Parent) was super excited for our son as was I (Tiger Den Leader); it was going to be his first camp outing officially in scouting. We put on our class B, shirts that say Cub Scout Pack 2 on them and off to camp we went looking forward to seeing how he did with other scouts.
                                          
We arrived at camp, checked in and the boys had some time to play a few games and look at the map of the camp before we started. Then we were off to our first station, arts and crafts. Our Tiger is in a group with 5 other Tigers that are moving onto Wolf and despite him being the youngest, he did really well painting his shield. Our Tiger loves directions and maps, so what does he design on his shield? You guessed it, a map. 

While the boys were making the shields, the parents were talking and one noticed that we were with Cub Scout Pack 2 and said something like “we have seen your fliers and have heard about your pack”  and we started talking about special needs. I had told the one parent something along the lines that our Tiger had been diagnosed with autism and was very excited about being in scouts like his big brother. Our Tiger was a little amped up and did blurt out some facts that to others might have seemed random, but he did really great following directions and the rules.

Next it was off to learn Bocce Ball in a field game. There was a challenge with which boy would get to use their favorite color of Bocce balls so they resolved the issue by playing Rock, Paper, Scissors back to back. Many of the boys seemed to have issue with attention and focus but they did end up getting in the game.

Our Tiger was really looking forward to the next station. Butter making! He loves butter (by itself) and we are still working on the social do’s and don’ts when a tub of butter is sitting in front of you at the table. (i.e. It’s not socially appropriate to stick your finger in the tub of butter and then lick it and then put your finger back in the tub...) But in this case, the boys got to make butter and as a extra treat got to make pancakes as well. 

                            
He really did not care about the pancakes, just the butter which he really enjoyed and which Karen and I admit was really rather tasty. As he was a bit antsy at this point waiting in line at the cooking station, I was standing in line for him to help make his pancakes. Karen was behind me watching our son having a ton of fun and one of the other moms (different than the one I first talked to about special needs kids) looked at me smiling and says something along the lines of

“Whew. What a relief to know that after seeing your son, I can now see that mine is average and normal.” and then turned...(this was RIGHT in front of our son, I might add)

What? I know, I did not hear that correctly! I must have phased out and missed a few words, that could not be what she said. Nobody is that clueless and cold, are they? The tone wasn’t mean, it was just matter-of-fact.

I have been a scout leader for 5 years going on 6, I have been running the Autism and Scouting Facebook page for 2 years come this August, I have heard from other parents about how cruel other pack and troop mates are (from around the country) and I have even had some personal challenges directly with some local leaders while working with issues surrounding transitions for our Cub Scout Pack 2 kids (which I am very happy to say have all been patched and a path for transition will be in place when they are ready).  Personally with my oldest, I have seen other parents “looks” but never ever had one person comment to me directly, so I was in shock.

Without saying a word, I stepped out of line and went to sit at one of the picnic tables. Karen was so taken aback from the woman’s words (not only from a Mom standpoint but from an Aspie standpoint as well) that she kindly took Ryan’s hand and led him on a bit of a nature walk. (She told me later she needed to get away to process what was said as it really shocked her.)  They soon came back and just a few minutes later, a call went out for half of us to go to Archery. Karen, our Scout and I were off down the path to the next station leaving the clueless parent behind. As we were walking down the path, Karen told me how sad she was about what the lady had said and I said something like, “so, that was what she said and I was not just hearing things.” She also said she was running dozens of scripts through her head about what she wanted to say but didn’t because she didn’t want to make a scene in front of Ryan and thought that taking the high road in this instance was the way to go. In retrospect she wishes she had said something... especially since the woman’s “so-called average” child seemed to have challenges of his own and she suspected it might not be too far down the road when that Mom also receives news about her son being on the spectrum but again, not the time and place... not in front of the kids.

At this point, our scout was doing an amazing job! He loved making his “Shield of Map”, learning the flag ceremony, throwing his bocce balls and eating butter while following directions, staying focused and being his exuberant, animated self. We were not going to let one person take away from his memories of the day or ours.

The rest of the day was Archery, lunch, a trip to the trading post (no camp would be complete without that) and next we transitioned to the next station which was an opening Flag Ceremony.  At this station they walked the boys through an opening and closing flag ceremony. When they asked for one of the scouts to volunteer to be a caller (I think they asked for the loudest scout) our Tiger, proud of his ability to speak in high volume popped to his feet and ran up to the flag pole and instructor to learn about calling a Flag Ceremony. Mom and Dad were so proud and he really did a great job (not just a proud daddy talking) but did have some focus issues (he liked the feel of the hay and liked randomly tossing it).  He also took “repeat after me” very literally and repeated EVERYTHING the instructor said. (Almost everyone was amused.  It’s very cute at 6!)

Afterwards we went to BB Guns and then an official Closing Flag Ceremony (he was the official caller again) and then a closing “campfire” with skits (there was no fire... talk about confusing to a literal thinker... and I’m talking my wife here, LOL!). Overall it was a great day and Karen, our Tiger and I will go away with great memories of the Tiger Day adventure.

That evening, during our nightly prayers our family did pray for the lady to realize what she had said was insensitive and could be hurtful and that the next time she be more sensitive.

The Question I asked

I posted this on the the facebook page:
Question of the Day - Please read the question or situation below and let us know how you would respond.

Situation - A scout who is on the Autism Spectrum is at Scout sponsored Day camp with his mom. It is a group of new scouts and moms (around 8 in all) and they proceed from station to station. Then one of the moms turns to the mom with the scout on the spectrum and says "After seeing your child, I am so thankful that my child is normal. " How do you respond or how do you respond?

I have to say that this really sparked a nerve and had some wonderful comments and suggestions. Having gone through this situation ourselves, this is something that many families may come across so it’s important to be prepared. What are your thoughts? Please leave comments below, at the Autism and Scouting Facebook page or e-mail them to john@autismempowerment.org

Parents Needing to be Prepared

Just as we try to prepare our scouts for what is thrown at them, we as scout parents need to be prepared as well when we come up against other parents who just don’t get it. Here a few tips.

If you get a negative comment try the following:

1. Stay positive, take a deep breath and smile.

2. Assess if this is a teachable moment. Just like with your scouts, if the person you are trying to get through to is not in a teachable moment, trying to teach them is useless. If they are in a teachable moment, show respect and teach.
3. Keep the focus on your scout and your family. It is not about the person being adversarial or ignorant, it is about your scout. (Also make sure to have your teachable moments outside of your scout’s earshot.)
4. Remember your group’s Oath and Law.
5. Remember your faith! Follow the teachings of your faith.
6. If you have to respond immediately and your scout is there, say something positive like “I love my scout and I think they are perfect” or something to that effect. Karen likes, “just imagine if Baskin Robbins only had 1 flavor instead of 31. We’re happy and accepting of our child for who they are, where they are and always encourage him/her to let their light shine.”

We hope this helps and keep your chin up and enjoy all of the success your scout’s program.

Accept, Enrich, Inspire, Empower!

To learn more about Autism Empowerment, a 501(c)(3) public charity and to help financially support our Autism and Scouting Program, please visit:

Autism and Scouting Program, please visit:Autism Empowerment - http://www.autismempowerment.org

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

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


email  - john@autismempowerment.org