special needs scouting

General Resources

Following are some general resources relating to Scouting and special needs. For information relating to specific needs and disabilities select the Resources by Disability menu option under Additional Resources.

Special Needs and Scouting

BSA Disabilities Awareness Page

Bookmark this page which points to BSA’s online special needs documents. A good place to start for Boy Scouts is Guide to Working with Scouts with Special Needs and DisABILITIES. The Scouting for Youth with Disabilities Manual provides more detailed advice on specific disabilities and is applicable to all BSA programs. The Guide to Advancement is where to go for advancement guidelines and policy.

Some BSA special needs publications are available in hard copy only:

  • A Scoutmaster’s Guide to Working with Scouts with Disabilities #33056A
  • Understanding Cub Scouts with Disabilities #33839
  • These are available through the Scout Shop but call first (303.477.4830) to see what they have in stock. 

They can also be ordered through:

BSA National Distribution Center
2109 Westinghouse Blvd.
PO Box 7143
Charlotte, NC 28241-7143


See how Denver Area Council serves special needs in the following videos:

Special Needs Scouting Outreach

This video explores the many ways Denver Area Council reaches out to youths who have special needs.

Troop 5280 helps Scouts with Special Needs

Troop 5280 is the first transitional Boy Scout troop in the Denver metro area. It was formed in 2009 to provide special needs scouts between 10½ and 18-years-old with the basic foundation and knowledge of the traditional Boy Scout program.

Father and Son: Tim and Jack Ryan

Exposing Jack to Scouting was never part of a grand plan. Tim Ryan had very warm feelings for his time in the Scouts as a youth, but the years from the time he learned Jack was autistic (1994) until he started in Cub Scouts (2000) were a whirlwind of therapies and other efforts to address the autism that had become the central feature of their family’s lives.

Special Needs: Zeb’s Story

Learn how a special needs Boy Scout with Down syndrome was included in Troop 767, Gateway District, Denver Area Council.

Electricity: Working with Kids that have Special Needs

See how the adult leaders of Troop 5280 interact with their youths.

Handouts and Flyers from the DAC Special Needs Team 

Guide to Working with Scouts with Special Needs and DisABILITIES

  • Currently being rewritten as Information for Working with Scouts with Special Needs and DisAbilities.

Scouting for Youth with Disabilities Manual

  • While somewhat dated, this useful manual addresses special needs for all the Scouting programs. It replaces a series of publications that addressed specific disabilities such as blindness, mental retardation and emotional disabilities.

BSA Policy on Disabled Scouts

  • The Boy Scouts of America’s applicable policies regarding Scouting and the disabled.

Guide to Advancement

  • This manual, revised in 2013, gives the current BSA policies for advancement.

Definitions of Types of Disabilities

  • A list and description of common disabilities quoted and adapted from the BSA Publication A Scoutmaster’s Guide to Working with Scouts with Disabilities.

Colorado Agencies


  • THRIVE is a Community Parent Resource Center that serves all families in the Denver Metro area that have children with disabilities, particularly those with low income or who have linguistic challenges. It provides advice, outreach, training, events and other offerings. Thrive does not charge parents for its services.

Community Resources for Youth with Disabilities

  • This book is an extraordinary list of resources from Colorado listing a great number of resources for youth. The resources include areas such as Employment, Internships, Education, Learning Disabilities, Advocacy Support, Youth Development, and much more.

Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

  • DVR assists persons with disabilities to succeed at work and to live independently.

Colorado Fund for People with Disabilities

  • This trust allows parents to leave their children money without it negatively impacting their disability benefit qualifications. The Director, Ms. Germany, can inform families about how the trust works and how to financially plan/prepare with a child with disabilities.

Peak Parent

  • Centered here in Colorado, Peak Parent has the mission to assist families with disabilities.  You can reach their Denver office at 303-864-1900 or in person at 1212 Mariposa St, Denver, CO 80204.

Easter Seals of Colorado

  • Easter Seals of Colorado offers help to the disabled and their families.

National Agencies

Internet Resources for Special Children (IRSC)

  • The IRSC web site is dedicated to communicating information relating to the needs of children with disAbilities on a global basis.

National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY)

  • An information and referral center that provides free information on disabilities and related issues for families, educators, and other professionals.

ADA Home Page

  • U.S. Department of Justice Americans with Disabilities Act. View and download the entire ADA as well as a multitude of documents and publications regarding the ADA. There is a lot of useful information on this site. Note while the ADA does not legally apply to BSA which is a nonprofit volunteer organization, the BSA’s policies are similar to the ADA.

Department of Labor

  • A variety of useful resources from DOL.

National Organization on Disability (NOD)

  • The National Organization on Disability promotes the full and equal participation of America’s 54 million men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life.

Disability is Natural

  • This organization promotes a people first approach to disabilities and discussion of disabilities.

Other Resources

Guide to Home Remodeling for Disability

  • Provides resources for selecting or remodeling an accessible home. Here also is additional information about remodeling for special needs include legal rights and sources of financing.

Legal Resources

  • Summarizes the law and rights relating to special needs.

For the college bound: