On Monday for Labor Day my dad and I, along with my 9-year-old son headed out to the golf course for a relaxing day together. This may not seem like much of a big deal for some but for me it was a day of firsts. For those who do not know, my son was diagnosed with autism when he was 5. He is considered high functioning, and he can take care of himself and attend regular class with the help of an aide, but there are still a lot of things that he struggles with or needs extra help with. He is an extremely bright child with a heart of gold. But he has never taken interest in sports to the point where he wants to play them regularly.

So when I mentioned that I was going golfing on Monday, and he said he wanted to go I was excited and skeptical at the same time. You see my son likes to be active, and he likes to move around and be able to get his energy out. Golf is not that game. Golf is for the relaxing day enjoying the outside and just taking it slow. But I was not about to tell him he couldn’t come. In fact I was thrilled that he wanted to come.

I told my dad I was going to drive separate in case anything happened and I needed to take him home if he got upset or anything and that way he could stay out on the course if he wanted. I wasn’t sure what to think when I got out there. I knew he didn’t know how to hit the ball, and he didn’t know the basic rules of the game, but I just was glad he was out there with dad and I.

We made it through five holes before he started getting a little impatient, and I could tell he was ready to go. As a father to a child with autism you learn early on the signs of when he is getting agitated or upset and you try and catch them before it is too late and there is a full on meltdown. Now a meltdown with an autistic child and a temper tantrum from a normal child are two completely different things. They process things completely different and that is a conversation for another day.

So I was able to notice he was ready to go so I told my father to go ahead and finish up without us, and I was going to get him home. But as a father I was so proud of my son for wanting to come out and be a part of something that he had never done before. He enjoys his routines so any time he makes an effort to step out of his comfort zone is a win as a parent. He enjoyed his short time out on the golf course and even asked some questions and tried hitting a few balls here and there.

Sports can bring people together and as someone who has been an avid sports fan since I was a child, it gave me a great feeling inside every time I looked over on Monday and saw my little boy out on the golf course with his dad and papa. We are all limited to our time on this earth, that’s inevitable, so we should all make sure that we take the time each day to appreciate those we love, and to make the most out of every day that we have.

Until next time.

Johnathan Kirland is a sports writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him jkirkland@gazettevirginian.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnathanK_GV