These disorders can be difficult to define. Examples include the inability to control anger which may be present with a number of groups including those with acquired brain injury, some individuals with an intellectual disability, at-risk youth or other disadvantaged groups. As an outdoor adventure leader, you will need to liaise with carers, youth worker/social worker, etc. in discussing appropriate objectives, ground rules and disciplinary procedures. Self control can often be tested with such groups and it is important to keep track of your reactions to any challenging behaviour. Humour, patience, a sense of fair play and the ability to listen, can be significant assets.
Recognise that there are far reaching complications that impact as a result of the presence of AIDS. There are many fears that can be dispelled by sound knowledge of its transmission and by good hygiene practices. It is very difficult to transmit AIDS outside of sexual activity and needle sharing. What is probably more of a concern are participants who may be hepatitis carriers. In such situations, washing hands and avoiding sharing food and utensils, including water bottles, is important.
Although fun is always an objective, you may be working as part of a broader educational experience with social workers, etc. and hence have other specific objectives. There may be a desire to use the bushwalk or snow trip as a vehicle to reinforce concepts of self esteem, trust, responsibility, teamwork and decision making/consequences. The outcomes of the activity may be enhanced by allowing the participants to be involved in the planning process. This increased ‘ownership’ should hopefully increase levels of participation and interest. Encourage initiative and leadership skills.
Individuals with drug dependency may have severely affected decision making skills, self esteem, motivation and fitness. Work closely with other specialists where available. It is likely that there will be bans on drugs for the period of your activity. There are always reasons for substance abuse and often unhappy ones. As a role model, you may therefore play a limited part in the counselling process.
An individual with special needs is often very dependent upon others. Independence should be encouraged wherever possible, even if it is only in small, seemingly insignificant tasks. Offer positive choices and consult where possible. Try to see things from the participant’s perspective, sometimes the smallest steps can be giant strides forward. Recognise them and provide plenty of encouragement.
The dilemma often met by those facing an individual who is ‘different’ is that of the seemingly contradictory aims of providing for special needs and that of treating them with equality. How does one treat a person ‘differently’ in the right way yet avoid discriminating against them?
Allowing and providing for special needs is a matter of awareness. Treating with equality is a matter of attitude. With any disability, it is important to try to provide the individual with as much respect, dignity and equality as you would with any other person. However it is worth noting, that people with disabilities are also prone to bias, discrimination, selfishness and intolerance just like anyone else. Therefore when it comes to group management, everyone should be subject to the processes of praise, encouragement, recognition and discipline.