I heard a wonderful story the other day and want to share it here. Someone was talking about a ten-year old boy who is a gifted musician and sings in a Cathedral choir. He has a beautiful voice, perfect pitch, and apparently can sight-read anything. He also has “one of those conditions”, as a result of which he finds it hard to regulate his emotions if he feels others are treating him harshly. Last week he was playing football with other choristers during a break from choir practice. He got upset by something the other boys did and ran away. The Chorus Master ran after him across the field, caught up with him and spent time with him, helping him to calm down and return to choir practice. During the course of the afternoon this boy ran away three times, the Chorus Master running after him and helping him calm down again and again. One of his parents also came in to help and choral evensong took place without further disruptions.
You might be wondering why I found this story wonderful. There is certainly nothing wonderful about a 10-year-old boy feeling so overwhelmed that he repeatedly bolts. One thing that was wonderful was the way this story was told. “The condition” was not named and no label was attached to this young boy, other than that of being a brilliant musician. The choir would be just as good and just as prestigious without him, but at no point has it been suggested that he leaves in the name of his own safety. Far from it, adults around him are considering how best to support him, so that he learns to manage his emotions and continues to do what he can do so well: to sing in a prestigious Cathedral choir. It is this commitment to inclusion that I found so wonderful.