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

Stealing from Kids, Part II

Hi Readers — I thought this was an interesting comment on the post about doing “everything” for our kids (and taking away the opportunity for them to learn how to do stuff themselves). “NT” is shorthand for “neurotypical” — i.e., a child without neurological difficulties. — L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: I see moms like this at my daughter’s school, where the lockers for the special-needs preschool kids are right across from the NT second-graders.

While the preschooler’s parents and TAs diligently work with our kids to
remind them of how to take off boots,  jackets, put mittens in pockets
themselves, there’s another group of moms doing all this stuff for their
much-older children while they stand there like lumps of wax, arms out
expectantly. It’s amazing to me that we have higher expectations of our
three-year-old kids with special needs (mostly autism) than many mothers of
second-graders do.

I’m hoping that one of these days, one of those mothers will glance over
towards us and maybe wonder why we’re working so hard to teach our kids to
be independent, and decide that maybe it’s time for her children to do the
same. To me, it looks like they’re working just as hard to handicap their NT
kids as we are to teach our autistic kids to learn basic skills. — Michelle

Outrage of the Week: Autistic Boy Draws Stick Figure Gun, Charged with “Terrorist Threats”

Hi Readers — I leave you with this story to ponder this weekend. An 8th grade boy with autism whose mom says he has the mental capacity of a third grader drew a small stick figure boy pointing a stick-figure gun at a stick figure teacher. The charge?

Oh, you know if it from my headline. Good ol’ “making terrorist threats.”  Remember: When stick figures’ guns are outlawed, only outlaws (who are stick figures) will have guns. — Lenore