Riordan Schotz is a 21-year-old Transition Center student who truly represents the heart of Friendswood ISD. He is someone who has grown so much during his time in school despite having additional challenges to overcome.
“When Riordan was diagnosed with Autism at the age of three, he only said a few words,” Candice Richards, Riordan’s mother, said. “He had tantrums multiple times per day, largely because he could not communicate and also because he was extremely sensitive to sensory stimuli. For the next three years, he had about 40 hours a week of intensive behavioral therapy in our home as well as attending speech and occupational therapy twice a week.”
According to Richards, that early intervention made a huge difference in Riordan’s life but what has made the biggest difference is his time at the Transition Center.
“Riordan has become much more independent since he has been at the Transition Center, and his communication has greatly improved,” she stated. “He’s also started eating a wide variety of foods, which might not sound like a big deal, but it really is.”
Additionally, Riordan started going to the movies, eating at restaurants, going to Dave and Busters and Main Event, swimming, riding a bike, going bowling, and traveling.
“Riordan has come so far in life,” Richards said. “Learning has always been very hard work for him, but he has learned so much.”
Kimberly Davis, special education coordinator, has seen this learning first-hand.
“Riordan was one of my first students in FISD,” Davis said. “When I see him, it gives me such joy and I always have so much pride in the growth he has made throughout his education here.”
Transition Center teacher Arielle Downing has also seen Riordan’s progress throughout the four years she has taught him.
“When he came, he was really restricted by his own self and he had a hard time in life,” Downing said. “But since he’s come to the Transition Center, he’s been able to access the community 100 times more than he ever did before.”
Downing credits Riordan’s accomplishments to his hard work and great support system.
“He’s a hard worker and he’s very bright,” Downing said. “I think he appreciates the higher expectations we have for him. If we set the bar low then that’s where he’ll be, but we set the bar high for him and he rose to meet it really quickly.”
“His family has been a really amazing support system for him,” she stated. “They have worked so hard to work with me and build a team for him and all be on the same page. They have been a huge support in working together to get him to where he is today.”
Richards said she just wants to help her son in whatever ways she can.
“When you have a kid with severe disabilities, you learn to take things one day at a time,” Richards said. “I always want Riordan to do his best, try his hardest. I want him to become more independent and keep expanding his horizons of what he enjoys doing.”
One thing that Riordan perhaps enjoys most of all is watching movies.
“He can pretty much recite you any line from any movie,” Downing said. “A lot of times, he will spout something off and you can ask him what movie is that from and he will tell you right away. He is so fun to be around.”
She said Riordan also has a great sense of humor.
“He is really a joy to be around,” Downing stated. “He makes us laugh all the time every day. He is goofy and jokes around a lot; we all really love that about him.”
Downing said Riordan and his progress inspire her and she hopes he continues to learn and grow after he completes his time at the Transition Center.
“Every day he does something or says something that blows me away. It’s amazing,” she said. “I hope that in his future, he continues to find joy in life in this world that is hard for him already, and I hope he continues to grow in ways that are going to allow him to be as independent as he can be in his adult life.”
FISD loves Riordan and the joy he brings to the District. We know he will only continue to do amazing things.