Lisa Baker April 11 2024

What is the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower?

As it’s Autism Awareness Month, part of our aim is to raise understanding of life with autism. In this blog I share more about the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and what to do if you see someone wearing a lanyard or pin.


Here’s my son and I with our sunflower lanyards, Jacob with his autism card and me with my carer’s card. The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is a simple tool for people to voluntarily share that they have a disability or condition that may not be immediately apparent. And that you might need a helping hand, understanding or more time in shops, at work, on transport, or in public spaces.

We haven’t used ours yet, but we bought it to help at the airport. Jacob has been pretty good with flying on the two holidays he’s been on so far, but a meltdown typically happens when we get to passport control. And yes, it can be difficult to reason with many stubborn toddlers, but Jacob’s autism means that queuing, security, announcements, and crowds makes it an overwhelming experience for him.

To most people Jacob will look like a happy, curious little boy. But when he gets dysregulated, he will cry or bang his head, and the disapproving looks from fellow passengers can be embarrassing. As a parent I will do whatever I can to reduce the chances he gets to that stage and give him help and compassion if he does. We still go on holiday despite the challenges with travelling, as Jacob constantly surprises us with his ability to do new things and we don’t want to limit what’s possible.

Globally 1 in 7 people live with a disability, that is approximately 1.3 billion people. For many that disability is not visible and is acquired at some point in their life. It’s the largest minority group in the world, and it’s one that any of us can join at any time. Despite this, it will take time to build inclusivity, acceptance and understanding of autism in society and the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower helps to raise awareness. Their cards cover a range of conditions from autism to ADHD, anxiety, bowel cancer or dementia to name just a few. You can even personalise a card by adding specific icons on the type of assistance you might need.

If you see someone wearing a sunflower lanyard or pin then please ask if you can help, have patience and be kind.

I hope this blog has helped to raise your understanding of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, check out their website if you’d like to learn more:

Image description: Lisa with her son Jacob, wearing their Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyards.

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