Helping cadets with ADHD/Autism?

Hi, I’m an NCO on my Squadron and we have a cadet with Autism and ADHD, they struggle a lot with activities like drill and sport because they lack patience to do it and usually end up moaning and they struggle to stay quiet on parade or in a squad. In the past they’ve done some extreme things when they got annoyed - so NCOs are quite cautious about pushing her. Has anyone dealt with something similar and got any idea’s of how we could help her integrate into the squadron more? As much as I try and be helpful, especially as I do get on well with and like them, it’s really awkward for us because although we know she can’t help it, they are a real distraction when we’re doing almost any activity.

I would say a lot of patience on the NCO side is required. You say she struggles with drill as she doesn’t have the patience. Is this because she’s struggling to learn a certain movement? If so, I would say get take her out of the Squad and do a one-on-one session until she aces the movement. If you’re worried she’d feel targeted by this, take out a small group of struggling Cadets and do a smaller lesson.

If they are struggling to stay quite on final parade etc, how about giving them something to fiddle with, to keep them engaged. May sound patronising, but it has worked in the past with autistic children my mum works with.

What do you mean she’s done some extreme things in the past when pushed? If she’s doing something which is destructive, is the ACO really the place for her? As harsh as that may sound. I apologise.

What kind of object are you thinking off? It’s a good idea, but it would have to be small and pretty unnoticeable object. She’s got stressed in the past and locked herself in places, I get what your saying but she really enjoys it and that’s the purpose which cadet’s serves for people so I don’t think that’s an option. Thanks for your help

The ACO has a guide for working with people with disabilities. When I’m not on my phone I’ll link to it and reply properly.

Has the Sqn tried engaging with the family? A former cadet on my current Sqn was on the autistic spectrum and the cadets’ mother wrote us an ‘operators manual’ for this particular child which was a massive help. It might not work for all, but engaging with those that know the cadet best can be a great help.

Simply the best option is speaking with the family. Are your staff aware of your concerns?

Speak with the family to find out ways of working, that’s nearly always the best thing to do. However, make sure you are as inclusive as possible. You can be inclusive by trying to understand the difficulties and making sure others know too.

A big thing with ASD is structure. Late notice changes to an advertised training programme or schedule is likely to cause distress.

I can’t upload it for whatever reason. PM me with an email address and I’ll send it to you, unless someone else can upload it for you…

I think you have to do whatever needs to be done at the time remembering to treat the cadet the same as you would any other, ie fairly and reasonably.

I had a girl on my ACF Det with Aspergers, who was a bit of a character but a very good cadet, and occasional admin nightmare, but I never cut her any slack, and she always delivered the goods in the end*

Finished as a full corporal and JCIC (Junior Cadet Instructor) so she was worth our investment.

[size=2]*To a greater or lesser degree, all cadets are admin nightmares and characters. She was at the far end of the scale though![/size]

Speak to the staff.

I can’t see if you’ve done this. This should be your first recourse, not here.

If the problem is as bad as you suggest, the staff should have already spoken to the parents, in fact the parents would in my experience initiate the contact. It may be around managing meds, I’m no fan of chemical coshes but if it helps. But this has to be dealt with by parents, they know their child and how best to work with them.

These conditions are on a sliding scale and knowing where they are on the scale is the first step and this has to come from parents/carers, in discussion with squadron staff.

In general people with autism have to have structure/order and or do things in a particular way and are very task focussed, the fluid nature of cadet training programmes (they’re not like school timetables) can sometimes mean they do struggle and get frustrated. If you give them a task and explain how you want it done, they will do it. Things like drill and sport probably don’t fit as they aren’t ordered or structured to the degree they may like. I remember one cadet who was autistic thrusting leaflets at people as they had been told, give these to people.

Don’t worry about being a cadet NCO and not coping, I’ve had and known staff who can’t cope with cadets with LD / behavioural problems and one who refused to instruct them. I know teachers who say they can’t cope and they get paid, which is why there are support staff in classes now.