Living with Autism: The right playbook helps Matthew Bradshaw reach his full potential

Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 5:51 PM CDT
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DERIDDER, La. (KALB) - Life throws you curveballs, and hardly anyone has a game plan. However, the Bradshaw family drew up a play in their playbook that’s helping their autistic son, Matthew Bradshaw, reach his full potential.

At age three, DeRidder High School two-sport athlete, Matthew Bradshaw, was diagnosed with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In fourth grade, Bradshaw had been placed on the Autism spectrum.

“One of his teachers we knew outside of school brought stuff to our attention,” Matthew’s mother, Monika Bradshaw said. “I remember breaking down in the meeting crying because I always felt something was there.”

“There were a lot of times where we wondered what we could do to make things better,” Matthew’s father Scott Bradshaw said.

As a child, Matthew struggled with his speech and social interactions, but both his parents decided to use sports as a way to help.

“He was probably four or five when we put him in baseball,” Scott Bradshaw said. “My favorite memory was the 2017 All-Star game in Monroe. Matthew goes out on the field for the first time in the game and catches a ball that looked like it was going to be difficult to catch.”

That was the story of Matthew’s life. He not only shined in bright moments on the field, but his brightness earned him a slew of friends.

“I was with my friends in the gym for graduation taking pictures having a great time, and all of a sudden I leave the gym and something comes over me,” Matthew Bradshaw said. “I have gained so many friends that I was wondering how I would ever see them again.”

“We’ve had issues with students picking on him, but when you sit back and see him and one of his senior classmates have their own handshake it’s touching,” Monika Bradshaw said.

The boy who was sometimes told he was too different, went on to earn the hearts of everyone, become a two-time All-Star, letter in both football and baseball at Deridder High School, and walk across the stage as a graduate with a 3.8 GPA.

“He doesn’t like the word autism, and I told him not long ago that doesn’t define who you are,” Monika Bradshaw said.

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