I’m writing a song for a friend and his students. He works in a school filled with pupils who have special needs above and beyond your average kid. They are categorised into several different classes, all of which have different characteristics generally assigned to them.
So, last night he calls me and asks if I want to write a musical. Of course I do, he works with some great folks and they need a musical writing. I’d love to help. We sit down over a quiet pint and start to discuss the requirements he has for this musical.
Aside from the usual concerns about religious and racial sensitivity, and cultural bias, he suddenly starts getting these acronyms out to demonstrate the range of pupils and what their particular needs are with regard to education. I have one group who can only do things if they’re part of a routine. I have another who aren’t ambulant. A third are simply classified as SLD – Severe Learning Difficulties, and left at that for the moment. Within each grouping there is variation, but to save time and confusion they are summarised.
Acronyms are useful to the initiated, but began to form a dense fog around my brain: PMLD SLD ASD IIG G&T (This last one is not a drink – I checked.)
However, the worrying thing is this – within half an hour I was using these same acronyms as though they were normal terms to me. In a very short space of time I’d learned how to pigeon hole people I’d never met according to criteria that I didn’t fully understand.
I suspect it may be more prudent to write the musical and let the staff at this wonderful school adapt it somewhat to their needs, lest my hamfisted partial knowledge of their trade and technical language cause more damage and confusion than a cultivated ignorance of the fine detail.
The name of my new project? Daniel in the Lion’s Den.