The Sunflower Lanyard scheme helps make others aware of hidden disabilities. Do you think it should become mainstream? I really do, and this is why.
On a recent holiday, a flight attendant approached my husband. He shook him by the hand, told him it was a pleasure to have us on board and that if there was anything we needed, all we had to do was let him know.
An hour into the flight and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked the flight attendant if he thought my husband was famous.
He laughed kindly and said it was because of our son’s Sunflower Lanyard – he told me he was impressed at how relaxed my son was on board.
Living with autism
A few months ago my son was diagnosed with autism, compounded by language processing issues.
On our way through the airport security the scanner choose him randomly for a scan in the ‘big, scary wooshy machine’.
He was terrified. He thought he had done something wrong and was reduced to a weeping heap at the idea of the scanner.
I told the staff he has autism and they were so understanding. They patted him down instead and gave us a Sunflower Lanyard.
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower
The scheme was first launched at Gatwick Airport in 2016 to help staff identify whether someone might require reasonable adjustments.
This can involve many things from speaking more slowly to letting them stay with family members at all times and giving them more time to board.
For us it was a revelation. The staff at the airport and on-board were brilliant with him and made us feel welcome and at ease with relatively little adjustment.
I am happy to see that it’s since been rolled out to many other airports, train services and supermarkets, such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
We’ve launched 🌻🌻🌻 lanyards in ALL our stores ☺️🎉 Making shopping with a hidden disability easier for the community 🛒 pic.twitter.com/31Ex1t41Qs
— Sainsbury's (@sainsburys) October 7, 2019
My son lives with a constant level of anxiety over unfamiliar sights and sounds, he struggles to understand new processes and often can not express why something is scaring him.
Simple things like taking a second to explain what is about to happen makes a world of difference to him and makes things go so much more smoothly for everyone.
With so many disabilities hidden, my hope is that schemes such as this one continue to become mainstream.
Life would be much easier for people if they had an easy visual way to show they might need assistance or even just a little understanding.
Would you like to see the scheme rolled out even further? Would it help in your workplace?