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Scouting: Attention Deficit - Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)


This article is from the Scouting FAQ, by Bill Nelson nelsonb@nospam.aztec.asu.edu, Soaring Golden Eagle eagle@rangernet.org and Alan Houser troop24@emf.net with numerous contributions by others.

Scouting: Attention Deficit - Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

From: choffman@adobe.com (Charles Hoffman)
Date: 9 Nov 92 17:54:36 GMT

When I posted by request for information about the ADD and ADHD boys in my
Webelos Den, the following information was sent to me. These suggestions have
made my meetings much easier.:

Keep all activities down to 15 minutes or less. I would add that allowing
and encouraging the boys to be creative in their projects helps tremendously.

Separate the ADHD boys from each other, and from other boys who are liable to
follow the ADHD boys' lead in going wild. I seat my boys in a "U" shape
with the Den Chief and my Asst Den Leader at the bottom of the "U". The three
ADD and ADHD boys along with the most reactive of the other boys are seated in
an alternating arrangement with the quieter boys. The two ADHD boys are seated
right next to the leaders (DC and ADL) to allow for personal one on one control
and the ADHD boys work harder at self control as they can get immediate words
of praise from the leaders.

Let the boys know the plans for the meeting at the begining. Give them a goal
and keep reminding them why they are doing what they are doing. Give
recognition in the meeting for their achievements.

Maintain control of the meeting. I use a carrot and stick approach. The
carrot is the "good conduct jug". Each boy places a bead in a clear water
bottle at the start of each meeting. When disruptive or dangerous behavior
happens, the Denner removes a bead. There are lines on the jug that will take
about 3-4 months to cover. We just had our first reward, by their choice a
trip to a local pizza/game center. The stick is first to "signs up", while
using direct eye contact with the boys. A firm, non-stressed voice helps.
Don't dwell on control, but quickly move to the focus activity.

Use short simple sentences. Ask the boys to repeat requests and directions
back to you.

Have the boys draw up their own den meeting rules. I have a list that my boys
made up posted in our meeting room. They point out infractions to each other.

Serve refreshments last. My boys do a round-robin for "snack". Every kid
seems to prefer red drinks. The food coloring used, plus sugar in the cookies
is guaranteed to have the kids bouncing off the walls in a half hour. Snack
is a time for quietly going over the days activities and letting the boys know
what will be done at the next meeting.

Be prepared. I prepare a month in advance what will be done at each meeting,
and what must be done at home for each boy to earn the current activity pins.
Having a well thought out plan gives me the freedom to adapt as the situation
changes. In addition make one or more of each craft in advance so the boys
have a model to "touch and feel" and so that you know how to do it, and that
the boys are capable of doing the tasks needed for the craft.

Get the quick boys to help the slower boys. With supervision this can be a
help. But watch out. Boys this age switch from cooperative to competitive
modes very fast.

Keep the boys focused. ADHD boys are very easily distracted by external
stimuli. I and my leaders constantly walk among the boys asking them to tell
us what they are doing, complementing creativity. This seems to help in the
longer more complex Webelos crafts.

Many ADD and ADHD boys take drugs (Ritalin, etc) to allow them to control
their responses. Parents try to give the boys their dose about 1/2 hour
before the meeting. But in real life, this does not alway happen. Be
prepared for lasts week's angel to be this week's terror. My Asst Den Leader
will become the terror's shadow when this happens. This is vital to a
controlled meeting.

Contact the ADD Warehouse, which has a catalog of reading and other things
relevant to ADD/ADHD. You can call them at (800) 233-9273. I sat down with
my ADD/ADHD parents and selected books that covered symptoms that were most
common with their boys. The public library in my town had several books that
gave me a good insight to the problem, but be warned, my parents told me that
some the information was out of date.

ADD/ADHD kids need even more complements than other kids. But don't forget
the other boys. Make the complement real, and word it in such a way as to
encourage future growth. One of my ADHD boys has become quite an innovator
in fishing for complements. He is begining to understand what actions will
and will not earn him a complement and his behavior is slowly improving.

Don't treat the ADD/ADHD boys as if they have an "unusual" problem.

Cycle your activities. I have an active gathering game, den business, a
focused activity, another short game, and then snack/reflection all within a
1 1/4 hour period.

My parents stay away from den meetings unless we are doing an activity that
requires lots of supervision or assistance. The parents state that their
boys are learning that all adults (Akeylas) require the same behavior, not
just parents and teachers.

Relate information and activities to "doing" things. Somatic language that
connotes physical activity helps. Many ADD boys learn best by doing, and are
very poor at memorizing remote facts. This can slow meetings down, but will
improve the experience for everyone.


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