Growing up, Naperville mom Cathy Riehs loved being a Girl Scout
and she wanted her daughter Emma, who has been diagnosed with
autism, to be able to do the same. So Riehs created Troop 200 for
girls with special needs to meet up twice a month in the
Sportsman's Lodge in Naperville.
Riehs, who is now a co-leader for the
troop, has helped the girls earn patches, work on service projects
and attend events together as a group. The girls range in age from
6 to 17 and have various disabilities, including autism and Down
syndrome. But Riehs and fellow parents do their best to adapt to
each girl's needs.
At one meeting, for instance, the troop invited a female soldier
who had just returned from Afghanistan as a guest speaker. Riehs
wanted each troop member to be able to ask a question, but because
some of the girls are nonverbal, she had them prepare note cards at
home for someone else to read at the meeting.
"Being a special needs mom, I'm right there with them. I'm very
sensitive to different things, just like every other special needs
mom," Riehs says. "We don't stop and stare, we just keep moving
For more information about joining the troop, contact Jessica
Griffin at the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association, (630)
681-0962, ext. 120.
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