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The Benefits of the Scout Method


As every autistic child is different, after joining a unit, be sure to get together with the units leaders to let them know the specifics of your child. You are always free to observe any Scout activity that your child is involved in.

Boy Scouts at any level always involve group activities. This will give a chance for autistic scouts to gain both valuable skills in communication, but true friends as well.

Cub Scout Meetings

Cub Scouting is a program of the Boy Scouts of America. However, they are entirely different programs: Cub Scouting is a family-oriented program designed specifically to address the needs of younger boys.

Cub Scouts meet in their dens once each week, and a pack meeting is held for all Cub Scouts and their families once a month. Beyond that, it depends on the den and pack: a den may hold a special activity, such as a service project or visit to a local museum in place of one of the weekly meetings or in addition to the weekly meetings. Likewise, a pack may conduct a special event such as a blue and gold banquet as an additional event, rather than a substitute for its monthly pack meeting.

Cub Scout den meetings are intended to be an activity for the individual boys. They are not a family activity, and the presence of parents can be a distraction. However, parental involvement is not forbidden and all meetings should be open to your participation. If you would like to be present at a den meeting, ask the den leader in advance so that the leader can plan a way for you to observe or participate in an unobtrusive manner,

Boy Scouts Meetings

Boy Scout Troops are boy led and function by the patrol method. 

The patrol is a group of Scouts who belong to a troop and who are probably similar in age, development, and interests. The patrol method allows Scouts to interact in a small group outside the larger troop context, working together as a team and sharing the responsibility of making their patrol a success. A patrol takes pride in its identity, and the members strive to make their patrol the best it can be. Patrols will sometimes join with other patrols to learn skills and complete advancement requirements. At other times they will compete against those same patrols in Scout skills and athletic competitions.

The members of each patrol elect one of their own to serve as patrol leader. The troop determines the requirements for patrol leaders, such as rank and age. To give more youths the opportunity to lead, most troops elect patrol leaders twice a year. Some may have elections more often.

Patrol size depends upon a troop's enrollment and the needs of its members, though an ideal patrol size is eight Scouts. Patrols with fewer than eight Scouts should try to recruit new members to get their patrol size up to the ideal number.

The Senior Patrol leader who is a Scout elected by elected by the Troop, runs all troop meetings, events, activities, and the annual program planning conference.and also is in charge of the Patrol Leaders' Council (PLC) meetings.

The patrol leaders' council is made up of the senior patrol leader, who presides over the meetings; the assistant senior patrol leader, all patrol leaders, and the troop guide. The patrol leaders' council plans the yearly troop program at the annual troop program planning conference. It then meets monthly to fine-tune the plans for the upcoming month.

The varied level of social interaction in large and small groups can help an autistic child learn social skills and pick up on communication skills that could be difficult in a classroom setting. Many of the leadership rolls in Boy Scouts are well suited for some autistic children, this will give them a chance to interact with others in a leadership role and can give them a feeling of pride and accomplishment. Participating in service projects helping others can lead to increased understanding of empathy in autistic youth. 

Self Esteem

Scouting, whether Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturing, or Varsity, all have rank advancement and recognition. The path from Tiger Cub to Eagle Scout is a filled with many challenges, but they are not impossible to overcome. The Scouting program gradually pushes autistic children out of their comfort zones, physical, mentally and emotionally, and can be a life-transforming experience. In Scouting, autistic children will have to learn to overcome their resistance to doing new things that require tremendous effort, as well as acquire new knowledge and skills. Their amenability to being taught will stand them in good stead in other areas of their lives.

Most importantly, in the long term, Scouting program can ultimately instill discipline in autistic children. Along the way, they will discover that they can accomplish challenging things that many including themselves had thought were beyond their capabilities. This realization will provide a powerful boost to their self-esteem, which will motivate them to continue to strive for progress.

Scouting has a unique value for autistic children by enabling them to overcome their sensory difficulties; improve their understanding of verbal communication; as well as promote discipline and self-esteem. These factors serve as a strong motivator for parents to have their autistic child join the BSA.


One of the leading causes of injury or death for autistic children is Wandering. Boy Scouts teach many of the safety skills needed to help mitigate against these risks. Swimming, first aid, proper preparation, wilderness safety and survival, and many other activities, will help an autistic child learn the appropriate ways to enjoy and explore the world around him safely. They will learn the benefits and importance of the "Buddy System" and how to avoid getting lost; and what the approriate thing to do is if they are lost. Many Summer Camps offer swimming lessons for beginners, as well as teaching the more advanced Swimming Merit Badge. The BSA has numerous safety protocols that must be observed concerning all levels of aquatic activity and has an amazingly low number of aquatic related injuries because of this. If your son is in a Scout unit and prone to wandering, be sure to inform Unit Leaders so that they can plan accordingly.