We just welcomed an autistic boy to our troop whose name is Sam. Having no real direct experience with this disorder and nervous about a new challenge, I began searching for tips on how to serve scouts with autism. Here’s a list of things to consider from AutismEmpowerment.org…which feels a lot like what you would do with every new scout:
1. Get to know the Scout and his or her family!
2. When you meet one scout with Autism, you’ve met ONE scout with Autism.
3. Find out what, if anything may cause a meltdown/shutdown.
4. Find out what works best to help the scout recover from a meltdown or shutdown.
5. Find out any sensory issues the scout might have.
6. Find out how the scout learns best.
7. Find out any special interests that the scout has.
8. Incorporate these special interests to help the scout learn.
9. Have a place for the scout to go for sensory breaks.
10. Allow for transition time and processing time.
11. Use positive encouragement to help in taking part in activities.
12. Explain the reason why something is being done.
13. Be careful of using sarcasm either directly or around the scout.
14. Don’t talk down to the scout and make sure to monitor your tone.
15. Live by example, Live the Scout Law and Oath – Integrity matters.
16. Try to help the scout achieve success while having fun along the way.
17. Always follow the guide to safe scouting.
18. Always remember to respect the family’s and scout’s privacy.
19. Accept the scouts for who they are, where they are.
20. Enrich the scout’s life by teaching lifelong skills.
21. Inspire the scout to be exceptional. Chances are that he/she will inspire you too.
22. Empower the scout by giving the tools to be self-sufficient and successful.
See also: a great idea for recognizing scouts with special needs.