I attended the University of Scouting event in our council last month with the intent to learn more about Special Needs Scouting. With an autistic boy in our troop and having no previous direct experience with this disorder, I wanted to know how to make his Scouting experience the best it can be. Lucky for me, the presenter was a Scoutmaster from a special needs troop who shared a ton of great insight and ideas. Here’s one of those ideas related to recognizing rank advancement.
Special needs scouts do not get recognized or rewarded with the same frequency as the rest of the boys since they work through the program at a much slower pace.
For every individual rank requirements completed between Tenderfoot and First Class, these special boys can earn a “Requirement Patch”. These can be purchased from ThePatchPlace.com under the product category: Fun Arc Activity Patches. You can award these patches with an accompanying “Completion Card”. In fact, we might even take another step towards inclusion and print these cards out on colored cardstock resembling a real Merit Badge blue card. The best thing about this approach is that it gives you about a dozen more opportunities to call these boys up during a Court of Honor to recognized them for their small-step accomplishments. I think of it as a micro-rank advancement that should go a long way in making these scouts feel like everyone else… especially at award ceremonies.
Here’s a printer-friendly version of these Completion Cards for these micro Rank Advancements. I actually *loved* the idea and couldn’t wait to share it with others who might be faced with this same challenge. It’s also another great example of why we should be attending training… I would have never thought of doing this.