In Scouting, we believe everyone, regardless of their additional needs, should be able to participate in Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers, just like these Beavers having fun at Bonaly.
With the right support, there is no reason why a young autistic person cannot fully access Scouting. There are already some great things we do as Scouts that support young autistic people, for example our structured sessions and our balanced programme.
The range of activities and experiences offered help them and their non-autistic friends in many ways to develop skills for life. However, there are also some things that young people on the autism spectrum may find challenging and need extra support with. You can find much more information to help you better understand and support young autistic people in Scouting, read more here.
All Groups must make reasonable adjustments to support young people with additional needs, so that all young people can access all sections.
What is autism?
Autism is a lifelong condition affecting how someone communicates with and relates to other people and the world around them. It can be thought of as an invisible or hidden disability. Autistic individuals share certain areas of difficulty, but are affected in different ways and of different levels.
This is why the term Autism Spectrum Disorder or Condition (ASD/ ASC) exists. There are a range of terms that may be used which fall on this spectrum, including autism, high-functioning autism (HFA) and Asperger Syndrome. Autism can be referred to as a hidden disability, as you can’t tell that someone is autistic just by looking at them and this can lead to the individual being misinterpreted or judged. Young people on the autism spectrum are also more vulnerable to bullying, with over 40% of autistic children having been bullied at school (National Autistic Society, 2006).
Additional support and resources
We have specialist advisers in our Region and at SHQ, so if you want advice or assistance in coping with young people with autism please do get in touch with me or John Kitson, Development Adviser (Special Needs), SHQ, at John.Kitson@scouts.scot
Margery Naylor, Regional Commissioner