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Sunflower Lanyards and Autism

25th Aug 2021

First of all, what is a Sunflower Lanyard?

The sunflower lanyard is a way of letting people around you know that you have an invisible disability. In my case, that is autism. I find it useful because it means that if I act in a way which a neurotypical person wouldn’t, which is seen as “weird” by society, people around me aren’t as rude.

There’s a lot to unpack here; my autistic behaviour, such as flapping my hands when I’m happy or making odd noises when I’m distressed isn’t hurting anyone, but people around me often feel entitled to judgment, or may even feel uncomfortable around me when I don’t act neurotypical. The lanyard acts as a clue as to why I am behaving like this and makes people less likely to be unkind to me in public.

This raises the question of why people need proof of a disability to not feel entitled to be unkind when someone acts in a way not perceived as normal. In an ideal world, people wouldn’t assume that every single person they meet is neurotypical and act accordingly.

In an ideal world, people would mind their own business when they saw someone acting a way which wasn’t hurting anyone. That being said, seeing as we don’t live in an ideal world and autistic people are more likely to be seen as acting abnormally, the sunflower lanyard is a practical protection from harassment and ableism most of the time.

In conclusion, if you see something you don’t approve of but isn’t hurting anyone, just move on. Part of the fun of being human is that everyone is so different. No one has the right to judge someone from something that isn’t hurting anyone and if we allow difference to flourish, being human will only get more fun.


Ed Chaplin, BulliesOut Youth Ambassador

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