In an exclusive article for Brazilian magazine Revista Autismo, English mother tells what facts made her post viralize worldwide
Kim Baker, from UK
The hidden disabilities sunflower lanyard scheme started in June 2016 in Gatwick airport. It was intended to be a discreet sign to staff to recognise that the wearer (or someone with them) may require some extra help, time or assistance when navigating their way through the airport. Following its success efforts have been made to extend the use of the lanyard to other places.
So let me tell you about my experience with the lanyard. In June we flew to Spain with the use of the Sunflower Lanyard. I wore the lanyard and definitely noticed staff spotting it and giving me a nod. Whilst queuing to check our bags in a member of staff saw my lanyard and asked me to give him our boarding passes so that he could print off the labels for the car seat and pushchair so they would be ready when we got to the front of the queue. Whilst going through security my husband had to go through the scanner. At this point my son had been queuing for quite a while, the airport was busy and he was getting fed up. Our pushchair was being scanned and I was trying to juggle our son who was in the early stages of a meltdown and getting our luggage. I asked a lady for our pushchair and she immediately wheeled it through for us and whilst I was wrestling the poor lad back into the pushchair she got down and quietly said to me “listen please don’t let anyone rush you today. You take your time and do what you need to”. She didn’t do much, to be honest there was very little more she could do at this point but it was kind and was enough to make me feel a little calmer.
After this there wasn’t much more use for the lanyard and we arrived safely in Malaga airport. Upon our arrival in Malaga I didn’t really need any additional support. However, on our way home is where the exceptional service came in. We joined the long queue for security and immediately a member of staff approached us, asked us to follow him to special assistance and we were escorted straight through without queuing. Later when queuing to get on the plane another member of staff came to get us and took us to the front of the plane to board first. I just felt this was incredible service and I was so impressed.
In August I posted a photo of my family on the plane with a little explanation about the lanyard on Facebook. To my surprise the post was shared 334,000 times and awareness of the lanyard has spread far and wide. I have continued to try and raise awareness and approached several companies to get their buy in. I’ve continued to have positive experiences and wear the lanyard wherever we go.
Let me be clear the lanyard was not my idea – I just innocently did a social media post which gained a huge response. If you want to get more information about the scheme or want to purchase any of the items available please visit www.hiddendisabilitesstore.com. Finally, I’d like to make it clear that the lanyard is NOT a queue jump! It does not afford you VIP treatment. The idea is that the lanyard is a symbol for staff or members of the public to be aware that the wearer may need reasonable adjustments made by them. That might be a queue jump, it may be access to a quiet area, it may a bit more space or simply just awareness.
Kim Baker is from England and has a 3 and a half year old little boy. He was diagnosed with autism a month before his 3rd birthday.