Updated: Apr 25
Bryce joined Cub Scouts in August 2020 as a Lion. Although he was six years old with a seventh birthday around the corner, we felt that it would be best to have him start at the beginning of the program which is designed for age five (Kindergarten). We wrote a letter to the Cubmaster explaining our situation. Bryce was blessed with the perfect den leader who has been extremely kind, patient, and understanding with him.
At this early age, there was not much social interaction between the children in his den. COVID didn't help with mask mandates and social distancing for events like the Pine Car Derby. We also only camped one time. Our first attempt ended up being a day-trip for us. Camping definitely provides more social opportunities but also provides more opportunities for unforeseen anxiety surprises for Bryce. We shared a video on our YouTube channel showing how difficult it was for Chris to get Bryce through the process of letting air out of a pillow after they camped in our backyard. Had this happened at the campsite, it would have been terrible!
Although we did not meet the "social goals" we hoped to achieve through Cub Scouts this year, we were thrilled to see that Bryce responded to the Scout Law and the character-building lessons he was taught in this program. Bryce also really liked getting his awards which is no surprise, since he works hard for rewards in therapy every week.
Our jury is still out as we are in prayer about what we will do for next season. We had some hiccups with older Scouts who could see Bryce's differences and did not obey the Scout laws when interacting with him. In my opinion, the awareness and acceptance needs to begin with the adults. If the adults express an interest to understand autism, they can ask questions and then teach their children. This incident is what inspired me to write this blog post. My hope and prayer is that it can become a training tool for Cub Scout troops throughout the world. While every child on the autism spectrum is different in many ways, there are plenty of core similarities. This post has been written from the perspective of a Momma with a hurting heart wanting others to understand her child and treat him well using the Scout Laws.
I am very transparent about our autism journey and willing to help others have a better picture of how autism affects our little family. I share the good, and I share the bad. I am grateful for the days that Bryce doesn't lose control of his emotions and try to hurt himself. I am also grateful for the victories that we have on days that are full of autism challenges as we manage to overcome them with God's grace, patience, compassion, and wisdom that we seek daily. This autism journey has definitely given me more reasons to pray for strength! I can't imagine doing this without God holding me up and helping me when I feel weak.