Golfing & Autism: The Perfect Pair?

Ryan experienced two huge accomplishments this week.  Unlike his Mom who can’t read enough, reading is not one of his “favorites.”  However, he did have a book (thanks to a gift from his Godfather, Joe Mehl) The Feeling of Greatness, The Moe Norman Story which I thought might pique his interest. I knew only a little about Moe until Ryan read the story.

golf.jpgMoe, (1929-2004) was a Canadian professional golfer who had won the Canadian amateur championship (1955) the Canadian PGA Championship (1974) as well as many other golf tournaments throughout his golfing career. He attempted USA tournaments but found that his shyness and the fact that he was bullied by some pros led him to choose to only play in Canada. He had a reputation as the “best ball striker” in golf. Even Tiger Woods described him as one of two golfers who owned their own swing…the other being Sam Snead. Moe was unconventional in both his dress and his play. He played extremely fast and would not even slow down to line up his puts. Moe’s one and only topic of conversation was golf. He had limited understanding of the social context and seldom looked people in the eye. But, his ability to hit shot after shot perfectly straight was undeniable. Knowing what we know today, we would think that Moe had Asperger Syndrome. Ryan finished the book yesterday!

Ryan’s second accomplishment was that he and I played 9 holes of golf, his first ever! Ryan started taking golf lessons about 3 years ago. He really enjoys going to the golf range and hitting balls with his driver. He thinks nothing of hitting an entire bucket in 30 minutes. I have to smile as I remember the short distance the balls went when he started compared to how very far they go today. However, I knew that playing a round of golf is quite different from the range.  We tried a few times last year but by the end of 3 holes he was bored. Nothing like hitting 100 balls! So, a new summer, time for another try…and we were successful this time!

golf-course.pngRyan and Moe have golf in common. It is something Ryan enjoys doing and more importantly provides him with an outlet for the repetitive behaviors that brings him comfort and lessens his anxieties. I can’t help but feel Moe would share those sentiments! I recognized that Ryan’s athletic skills, his interest in a one-man sport and his desire for structure and repetition might be best suited for golf and I am thankful that he has found such enjoyment from it.

I believe that each of us has a unique set of strengths and challenges.  What we all strive for is to find the areas in life that help us maximize our gifts and skills while accepting us as we are. While Ryan will never play professional golf, he has a leisure skill for the rest of his life. Ryan and I are looking forward to playing another 9 holes tonight!

 

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One Response to Golfing & Autism: The Perfect Pair?

  1. Sallie Newsham says:

    That is really exciting and awesome!

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