Jonah is a Deaf child who is born into a hearing household during the 1970s in America. In the early stages of his life he is misdiagnosed as being mentally challenged as medical professionals and everyone else around him failed to recognize that Jonah was Deaf. However, by the time Jonah’s mother, Jenny, figures out that he is Deaf the boy has already gone through the first few years of his life without language. Instead he was raised in mental facilities and wards in the hospital in his early youth. Throughout the film Jonah’s parents tirelessly struggle to communicate with their son but the rift between parent and child grows ever further until Jonah is introduced to sign language which is the point in the movie where his communications skills begin to blossom. At the end of the film it is highlighted how much he has improved in what seems to be a relatively short amount of time thus proving that Jonah was never a “dumb” kid instead he was just raised in an environment that wasn’t nurturing to his skills.
And Your Name is Jonah reflects the dark time of the 1970s where many Deaf children were born in environments in which education was not accessible and language was not developed. In this same time period was when ASL was officially recognized as a language that contained its own grammatical rules and proper structure.