It bothers me that Johnny never had a say in what he should be called at school. I was told in Johnny’s Junior Kindergarten year that John was easier for him to learn to say, to spell, and for his peers to say but it won’t stick. I was very uncomfortable with this but I had a long list of things I was advocating on his behalf for him that he needed in order to flourish in kindergarten so this was not at the top of my list. I now regret that I didn’t make it more important. I am concerned about how HE feels about who he is as we work hard building up his self confidence, his independence and self advocacy. Whenever we are around new people Johnny never tells people his name is John and always says Johnny even when it sounded more like “Yon.”
Four years later and Johnny is still working on being called the name he was named. He is learning to self advocate and try and speak up for himself and remind folks. I am happy to report that more and more children are saying his full name but as adults point out that have known him since kindergarten, habits are hard to break. It sure goes to show how one decision can have lasting effects and take away a part of a person’s identity. I know people who know Johnny are in earnest and really are trying to remember but it makes me wonder if they have ever thought about how they would feel if someone incorrectly called them the wrong name all the time? It also makes me think about how folks that have a disability have things that people take for granted little by little ignored or decisions made for them and how that must feel. A name is part of how we are. It is something that is given to us after we are born and is cause for celebration. For the rest of my son’s school days I have to watch him hesitate and probably cringe inside that another person is not calling him by the correct name. For Johnny and Autism, he takes things literally so it really bothers him when his name “feels” broken and no matter how hard he tries it never seems fixed.
To read about our name journey please click here : Is A Name Important?
Originally shared: December 8 2013