Today I wanted to write about something that I found out about recently; Sunflower Lanyards. 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.
About the Sunflower Lanyard Scheme
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.
Anyone with a hidden disability, regardless of age, can wear the sunflower lanyard. 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.
How to get a Sunflower Lanyard
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 lanyards and understand what they mean. 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 lanyards are 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.
This week saw some exciting news for the autistic community. Families affected by autism will soon be able to apply for a blue parking badge. This will mean that they can use bays reserved for disabled people. The change is a result of many years of campaigning by autism charities. Authorities and organisations are becoming increasingly aware that not all disabilities are visible. This article will examine the new changes and discuss how to apply for a blue badge.
How Can Autistic People Qualify for a Blue Badge?
It is important to note that not autistic people want, or need, a blue parking badge. However, for many families, the new changes will make a huge difference to their quality of life. For example, a family with a severely autistic child may currently be unable to leave the house if their child has a poor sense of danger, or is prone to unpredictable meltdowns. Some autistic children will bolt and run away, causing danger to themselves and road users alike. Children with autism may also be prone to destructive behaviour.
For the reasons outlined above, we can see why the new changes have been made. Currently, a family affected by autism can apply for a blue badge if they:
1: Cannot take a journey without risk of serious harm or psychological distress.
2: Have 10 points on the PIP mobility component if planning and making a journey causes significant distress.
How to Apply for a Blue Badge for Autism
The new rules will come into effect from the 30 August 2019. From this date, families will be able to apply online for a blue badge under the new criteria. The website is https://www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge.
The National Autistic Society also have some useful advice about the application process for a blue badge on their website. It also has some real-life stories that show how families will benefit from having a blue badge.
New Blue Badge Rules Help Autistic Families
The new rules are overwhelmingly positive and will give families affected by autism a new lease of freedom. Individuals with autism, as well as those affected by anxiety, OCD or dementia will also benefit. It is encouraging to see how small changes like these can make a big difference for autistic children and their carers.