I sat quietly at my desk on the morning of September 4th, 2005, steeling myself for my first day of second grade. Thus far, I had managed to deflect my classmates’ earnest conversation attempts, and my seeming indifference made them wonder about this new student. The teacher finally claimed the attention of my classmates and, one by one, they stated their names, their favorite foods, and their favorite animals. Soon, the moment I had been dreading arrived, and all eyes were on me.
“My n-n-name’s An-n-nita.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my teacher’s lips curve into a smile, and my classmates exchange looks of amusement. They probably attributed this first disfluency to nerves. However, after I spent the next several minutes struggling through ‘P-p-izza’ and ‘D-d-ogs,’ their looks of amusement turned to confusion. My secret exposed and my heart pounding, I finished my introduction.
Because my stutter was at its worst when I was young girl, these classroom scenes were as frequent as they were awful. Each time I raised my hand in class, I risked mangling words as simple as my own name. My teachers and the school administration did their best to protect me from my classmates, but to what extent? My peers’ snide glances and…