High-Functioning and Free-Range

Hi Readers: Here’s a nice reminder that Free-Rangers come in all shapes, sizes, ages and descriptions. — L

Dear Free-Range Kids: I have a 14-year-old daughter with high functioning autism. This weekend, she had a little get-together at a arcade-type facility for her birthday. It is pretty large but very safe: games, rides, laser tag, etc. She was waiting in line with her 25-year-old friend with Down Syndrome for a carousel ride.

I work very hard to make my daughter as independent as possible. My mother (her grandmother)  was with us at the party, but she needed to leave. I had to retrieve something from her car. “What about the girls???” she gasped.  I said they’d be fine for five minutes. She flipped out. “No! We can’t leave them alone!”

I found this very frustrating and said so. Argued that there were NOT child molesters roaming the facility and that they would be fine for five minutes. (Neither of them wander and both were eager for the carousel ride). “You don’t know that! Child molesters love places where children gather,” said my mom.

Maybe. Perhaps. But secure in the fact that they would not get far in less than five minutes, I took my mother by the elbow, led her downstairs, retrieved the item, and calmly went BACK upstairs.

Surprise! The girls were on the carousel, waving to me, and happy as could be.

I will continue to foster my daughter’s independence.  — Jamie Wheeler