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Why is she wearing a Sunflower lanyard?

Green lanyard with yellow sunflowers on it and a green car sticker with large yellow sunflower on it

What does a sunflower lanyard mean?

I'm sure you've seen people wearing a sunflower lanyard.

If you've spent any time around me, you should have spotted mine.

If not, look again!

The sunflower lanyard - or any similar item with the sunflower emblem - is a way for those of us with hidden disabilities to let you know that we might need extra help, understanding, or just more time.

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme was first introduced at Gatwick Airport in 2016 and, since then, thousands of businesses globally have joined the Sunflower network.

My son and I wear sunflower lanyards when we're out and about. We both struggle with sensory processing issues in crowded places like packed trains or airports, and it causes anxiety and overwhelm.

When travelling through an airport, we book special assistance and this means that we are able to use the special assistance security lines, sit in the special quiet areas and board the plane first.

We don't have to wear the sunflower lanyard to be eligible for special assistance. We wear them in the hope that we'll get more understanding from those around us because our disabilities are not visible.

But this is rarely the case. It's clear from the looks we get that many people still have no idea what the sunflower signifies and think we're just trying to jump the queue.

This unfair judgement causes further anxiety.

40% of Sunflower wearers have neurodevelopmental or mental health conditions

Source: Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, 2023

It's not just for airports and people wearing a sunflower lanyard won't all need the same help. There's a vast range of disabilities that aren't immediately obvious and the challenges associated with these conditions can differ greatly.

Please look out for the sunflower. It's pretty distinctive when you know it's there.

And when you do spot it, please try to be be understanding.

You could show your support by telling the person that you've noticed they are wearing the lanyard and wondered if you can be of any help. They're unlikely to be offended by this and have the option to politely decline. But if they are struggling, you could change the outcome of their day.

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Further details can be found here: Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme Website


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