Many Autistic People Don’t Like the Sound of Our Names

Meme of Beyonce standing on stage holding a microphone with text reading, "(Please don't)...Say my name, say my name."

If you’re not familiar with the song, Destiny’s Child has a song called “Say My Name”, and I’m using this meme to make a joke about how, according to a poll I did, most neurodiverse people do NOT like repetitive use of their names! So, unlike Beyonce…who appears to really want someone to say her name in the song, please DON’T say our names. lol!

Let me tell you why it bothers me, and I’ll let other ND folks chime in with their thoughts and feelings.

If you need to get my attention, “Hey, Jaime” or something similar is fine. But, if you use my name more than once or, God forbid, several times in a conversation with me, I will get increasingly uncomfortable and upset.

(Article continues below.)

The best way to improve communication with your autistic loved one is to understand how your autistic loved one’s mind works! Intentions, motivations, and personal expressions (facial expressions or lack thereof, body language, etc.), are often quite different in autistic people than they are in neurotypical people.

Experience a better understanding of your autistic loved one by reading books about life from an autistic perspective as well as stories that feature autistic characters. You’ll have so many “Ah ha!” moments and start seeing your autistic loved one in a different light (and you’ll have a better understanding of their behaviors, which you may have been misinterpreting up until now).

Books I recommend for a better understanding of your autistic loved one:

I usually won’t show it on the outside, but, inside, I’m seething. I can’t even hear what you’re saying anymore.

Hearing my name sounds like an admonishment almost automatically. Very few people can say it without me inwardly cringing.

Also, I don’t really identify with my name. It sounds weird, I guess, but my name doesn’t feel like “me”. It never has. Then again, there’s no other name I prefer, either.

Plus, hearing my name said repeatedly sounds like an attempt at forced familiarity, which immediately puts me on the defensive. I read that as very insincere and maybe even potentially threatening.

I don’t know how else to explain it, and, before you ask, no, it’s not self-hatred. I do love myself dearly, although it took a LONG time for me to get to this point.

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7 Responses

  1. Denis says:

    You know, I’ve had the exact same experience my entire life with my name, too.
    I’ve never been able to pin it down, I just don’t feel like it ‘fits’.
    Never thought it was an autistic thing, but seems like it could be.
    BTW: Thank you for all your hard work. Just discovered you and binging your articles!

  2. Darcy says:

    I’d like to chime in! I disliked my name so much I changed it! Also, I’m trans, so there’s that. There are a few reasons!

    ((I don’t want this to sound like a trauma dump I’m just trying to explain so sorry if it comes off wrong.))

    1. When I was in my early 20s I was a victim of severe, dehabilitating depression. I did a LOT of one on one therapy and outpatient CBT and came out of it much happier. I felt like a new person! I evolved!

    2. I was active on tumblr and twitter and was learning about LGBT identity and slowly came to the realization that I was nonbinary. (and pansexual too but that was less life altering)

    3. This final reason is the one that I haven’t been able to tell my family. It’s too raw and personal and now that my dad is dead I don’t know if I want to burden that side of my family with it. But, in my period of self-discovery I learned that my dad was an abusive dickhead. if he ever wanted to talk to me at home he’d just shout my name from the living room (or wherever). because my ND ass was always in my room alone trying to recover from a day full of everything.

    And even if I called back to him to see what he wanted, he would intermittently call my name in increasing degrees of anger until he gave up (bc I was too scared to go to him), I physically approached him, or HE barged into my sanctuary to get in my face about whatever he wanted.

    I cannot be called that name anymore. It holds too much trauma for me. All I can hear is that name being shouted in anger, sighed in disappointment.

    My name is Darcy now bc I said so! It’s mine and I love it!

  3. Archer says:

    Oh my god. I almost stopped breathing when I read the title of this article. Then I read the article itself and burst into tears. Thank you so much for putting what I have thought and felt for so many years into words.
    I never knew why my name was so uncomfortable for me to hear. When I came out as non binary, I thought maybe it was just because I didn’t identify with a gendered name. But that didn’t feel right either, especially because my name had so much history around it. I am proud of my name, no doubt about it. And I sometimes need to go by another name to stay safe…..but I still use my given name with my closest friends and family. But I truly dislike when somebody, anybody, says my name, given or otherwise.

    And to think that for so long, I thought that was just another quirk that was unique to me alone……
    Thank you thank you thank you. I will never forget this.

  4. ... Tim? says:

    Thank you thank you!!! I have always “hated my name” and have changed it probably a dozen or so times socially. There are times when i somehow hope it will be a fresh start, but most times i just hope i’ll like the sound better. Some do sound better, but in general i just dont enjoy “needing” a name for day to day life.
    The real issue is i dont like HAVING a name. I dont want one, dont see why i need one. It makes me feel pinned to a board, like a bug. I have even agonized over simple actions like… leaving a comment here! Because of the “name” field! I avoid Facebook, Meetup, and other websites where i might be able to socialize, because i dont like being “tied to” a name, or having people know my name before they meet the real me. I’ve experienced serious anxiety at social events precisely because people expect me to give a name when we meet. Why cant i just be around, joining conversations, chatting without being pinned to a name?
    Sadly it took me a while to understand that my frequent name changes make me seem weird, or even creepy and unstable, to NTs.
    Here’s a funny name thing:
    My name is one with multiple common spellings, like Kylie/Kyleigh or Hanna/Hannah. Occasionally after i give my name, someone will ask me which spelling i use. Without missing a beat, my blunt and true answer is, “oh, i dont have a preference.”
    *pleasant smile*
    To me the expectation that i should come up with a preference regarding an uninteresting conversation topic seems pointless.
    But apparently “no preference” is a VERY odd response to NTs!

  1. August 3, 2019

    […] Many ND people just don’t feel connected to their names and, therefore, don’t respond to them because it just blends into the rest of the background noise. […]

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