I stood in front of a mirror in the girls’ bathroom at school staring at myself, wishing that my mouth and lips would form words correctly instead of tripping over them. “M-M-Mark.” Nope. “M-M-Matt.”
“P-P-Please s-s-sit with m–m-me.” No matter how many times I tried to speak perfectly, stuttering would stay with me. No one else in my class stuttered or even came close to having a disability. Just me. Classmates pushed their desks away so not to touch mine as if they would catch a disease. Watching classmates participate in group projects with each other while I orchestrated the project alone. Spelling Bee’s proved difficult….I had no problem spelling the words in my head, but pronouncing them proved to be a nightmare. I had no choice but to literally push through the letter until I completed the word. Reading aloud for English class turned into a recipe from Hell. One cup of stuttering mixed in with 2 cups of laughing and having the teacher tell the students to stop. I could not change the words from the textbooks to easier words so within a short period of time, students laughed and mocked me. After finishing grade school, I entered into high school, which turned the social situation from bad to worse. More teasing, more mocking and getting lost in the fray of high school. I ended up attending 3 high schools in 4 years due to ultimate bullying enough to interfere with education and moving to Michigan due to my parent’s jobs.
After students tormented my soul in grade school and high school, I attended college and discovered people took the time to know and appreciate me for me…stuttering and all. Fellow students quickly transformed into best friends and I found that people no longer cared that I stutter or have a disability. My best friends showed genuine interest in me and some even had cognitive disabilities as well. I am best friends with them to this day. I loved all the independence and new discoveries college gave me. One of them was joining a club called Ablers Club, which is designed for students with disabilities. We created Disability, participated in baking sales and home coming activities along with making lasting friendships. I graduated with 3.9 GPA and earned a Bachelors Degree in Sociology. I have not found the perfect job yet; I know one is out there for me.
Even though I managed to graduate from college being bullied broke my heart and mind. I hated attending grade school and being constantly teased by the same classmates every day for years. Stuttering made it easy for others to pick on me and I want to encourage others who stutter or have disabilities to keep on being strong and to know that eventually the teasing will end and life will get better as people mature. Children and teens should include their classmates and give everyone dignity and respect. Bullying other students might be fun for a minute or two but it destroys self-esteem and lives if not careful. Give children with disabilities a chance to blossom and grow like everyone else..