Make them Normal

I just spent the better part of the morning volunteering in my wifes classroom… well I shouldn’t say in the classroom.. in the swimming pool.  Each Friday during the fall and winter months the class, along with a number of other classes go swimming at the Middle School’s pool.
I love to spend some time with her class, they are all real great kids with special needs.  The range is so huge that I don’t even know how they do it daily.  They always love to have male volunteers come in, it make the locker/changing room transition a bit easier on the teachers.
We swam, played and had a good time.  I helped with a couple little guys and we had fun with some float pads and making it a point to get the teachers as wet as possible.
So how is this going to tie into Scouting?  Well I suppose the entire point here is that we all have needs.  Food, Safety, and most of all love.  We all remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.. right?   I think far to many times labels are placed on individuals that have adverse impacts on their lives.  As I watched these kids splash around in the pool, they are normal.. whatever that means.  Then I watched them as we rode the bus back to the school.  I wonder what is going on in their heads.  There is something trapped or repressed that is in there, but for what ever the reason they are at a road block in the mind. 
And this is how it is with some of our Scouts.  I have shared before the fact that there are a few autistic boys in my troop.  And though I have no formal training with this, I have learned one sure thing.  They are boys that need Food, Safety, and Love or belonging.  That is where we have taken the approach that every Scout is a Scout.  We treat them all the same.    We do not allow labels to be stamped on them and we give them all the same opportunity to be successful.  The beauty of Scouting is that we get to decide what that success is going to look like.  In the School system these kids are developing “Life Skills” and then it is all about hoping for the best once they move on.
Now I know that my wife and the other teachers of these kids with special needs are doing wonderful things every day, and demonstrate their love for these kids above and beyond that of any teacher I have met.  I am amazed and in awe of how they do it everyday.
Our family volunteers with Special Olympics each year, it does not take a PhD to know that given Love we make them all normal.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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