One Summer Day in a Class for Elementary Students with Autism

“Good work, Josiah, you are all done!  Lets check your schedule.”  Josiah smiles brightly and hurries to his schedule knowing swimming is next.   As he and Miss Leaky walk through the quietly bustling classroom, a small voice calls out “Miss Leaky, swimming?”  “Yes Augustus, first work then swimming, hurry up and finish your work.”

One Summer Day in a Class for Elementary Students with Autism

Augustus smiles and continues working.  Miss Leaky and Josiah walk outside and across the courtyard to the restroom.  Returning, the pair are met with a commotion of loud crying, pounding, and the sight of Augustus lying on his back kicking his feet.  Miss Leaky inquires, “What happened?” Miss Ellie shares, “Augustus is mad because he was not allowed to go with Miss Alan to get ready for swimming.” Anxiously Augustus cries out “Miss Leaky, swimming?” “Yes Augustus, first work, then swimming.”  Augustus shoots to his feet and returns to his tasks, only two more easy folders to go.  “Miss Ellie swimming?” Augustus solicits. “Finish your work then swimming,” replies Miss Ellie.  Augustus grins and increasing his pace rushes to finish.

Seeing, Jean and Miss Alan walk through the door Augustus implores “Miss Alan, swimming?” “No, Augustus, no swimming until you finish your work!” Instantly, the room is filled with an ear-piercing shriek, a chaotic flurry of materials fly through the air and Augustus drops to the floor wailing.  Miss Leaky approaches, Augustus pauses his frenzy, pleading “Miss Leaky, swimming?”

“Yes, Augustus, first work, then swimming” answers Miss Leaky.  Augustus weepily gathers his materials and steels himself to begin working.  Tentatively he questions, “Miss Leaky, swimming?” Miss Leaky reassures “Yes, Augustus, good working, first work then swimming.”

Appeased, Augustus begins to complete his last few items when Miss Alan again returns from the restroom with students ready for the pool.   Augustus apprehensively voices his persistent question, “Miss Alan, swimming?”  ”No, Augustus, no swimming, you can’t swim until you do your work!”

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With rapid-fire motion,  papers are flung, the tipped desk slams to the floor and Augustus is again flat on his back kicking and screaming.  Miss Leaky stands nearby and Augustus screams “SWIMMING!! MISS LEAKY, SWIMMING!!”  Miss Leaky waits for that moment of silence that occurs as Augustus takes a breath, then clearly delivers a simple “YES!  Augustus curiously ceases his howling, breathing heavily he looks hesitantly at Miss Leaky then tearfully, frightfully probes “Swimming?”

Miss Leaky answered slow and deliberately “Yes, Augustus, first work, then swimming.”  Miss Leaky assists Augustus in reorganizing his materials, and remaining close, encourages him to finish his last folder task.  Once again, Augustus anxiously asks, “Miss Alan, swimming?” “No.”  Augustus flinches; Miss Leaky interjects “YES! SWIMMING!  Stunned with conflicted emotion, Augustus stands wide eyed, pupils darting between Miss Alan and Miss Leaky.  Locking his gaze with hers Miss Leaky thoughtfully enunciates her consistent retort, “YES, SWIMMING, first work, then swimming.”

Miss Leaky assists Augustus to place the last two items in his folder and enthusiastically declares “Finished! Time for swimming!” Augustus hurries to join his classmates walking to the pool, smiles broadly, and exclaims “SWIMMING!”

This article was featured in Issue 63 – Keeping Our Kids Safe


    Alice Leaky

    Alice Leaky aspires to develop confidence in individuals with autism by expanding the perspectives of their parents, teachers, and caregivers. Miss Leaky has been teaching special education for students with autism and behavior challenges, ages 3-22, for 20 years. Further, Miss Leaky has a close relationship with her nephew with autism who is in his 20’s. This Teachable Tale is a short story for adults engaged with individuals with autism. Miss Leaky hopes to illustrate concepts, provoke reflection, and promote discussion. This story is a theatrical representation of an actual event with names and details changed to protect the innocent.