An essay by Jessica*, a student at the Riverside School in Milford.
“How has my school helped me? I think an easier question would be how has my school not helped me. I started at Riverside School at the end of March after about a year of little education. This was mostly due to my high generalized anxiety disorder and my sensory processing disorder (and my previous school’s lack of academic accommodations). The Riverside School has changed my life and helped me in many ways that at one point I didn’t think was possible.
There are eight kids at my school with two teachers and a teacher’s aide. All students can go at whatever pace they want. This allows me to take frequent breaks throughout the day, which I need because of the intense fatigue and dizziness I experience from my sensory issues. Because Riverside has a small amount of students, I can get one-on-one help with my schoolwork and have the teachers teach the material in the way that I learn.
Another good thing about my school is that I attend at least two therapeutic groups a day to get support from my peers. I have made friends and really strong connections with my peers, which has helped me with my anxiety towards social situations. I am so grateful for all the love and support I get from them especially when I feel like I’m not getting any outside of school. I also check in with a clinician for at least 45 minutes a week, and she is available if I am experiencing anxiety or stress during class. I would not be a functioning student without her.
I didn’t have a good idea of the person that I was before starting at Riverside. During school and therapeutic groups I have taken on a leadership role which is one of my defining characteristics. I have also discovered that I am friendly, funny, and despite having social anxiety, I really am outgoing! I have even been able to get a job as a teacher’s aide. I pushed through the anxiety of applying and interviewing and now I have a job that I really love and that makes me happier and fulfilled.
I am one hundred percent sure that I would not be where I am today without Riverside. I am so grateful for how my school has helped me and how it has allowed me to achieve things I used to think would not be possible.”
*name changed for privacy