I didn’t know anything about the lanyard or the scheme, but some of my friends who have children with autism had tried it out with success. Since then, I’ve seen the scheme advertised in my local supermarket, so was keen to find out more.

The scheme was first launched at Gatwick airport in 2016, when staff wanted extra help recognising those with hidden disabilities in order to offer tailored assistance. The sunflower lanyard is a subtle and dignified way to meet this need. The sunflower symbol itself indicates positivity, cheerfulness and strength.

It can be worn by anyone with a hidden disability, regardless of age. The scheme recognises that many of us have disabilities or illnesses that aren’t immediately apparent to others. This could include things like autism, hearing problems, dementia or mental health issues; to name just a few. By wearing the lanyard, a person is letting staff know that they may need extra time or assistance; or just some patience and understanding.

The lanyards are free of charge and available from the customer service desk of participating supermarkets. I like the fact that no proof of disability needs to be shown in order to get one, as this means that those currently undergoing diagnosis are not excluded. A lanyard can be worn by the disabled person or their carer.

As the scheme becomes more popular, more places will recognise and accept the sunflower lanyard and understand what it means. Hopefully this will also result in staff receiving appropriate training in order to accommodate the needs of visitors with hidden disabilities.

I think the sunflower lanyard is a fantastic idea and hope that families like mine affected by autism, anxiety and other hidden conditions are able to make good use of this new and exciting resource.

Find out more on the Sunflower Lanyards website.

Read of Louise's blogs over on her blog page My Child has Autism or read more from our Family Fund Bloggers.