Not all disabilities are visible

Attending hospital can be a daunting experience for any child, but it can be even worse for a child with a hidden disability.

Loud noises, large crowds and unfamiliar surroundings can cause real distress and anxiety to a child with autism and, while we can't change the sometimes scary sights and sounds of a hospital, we can get behind this simple yet effective scheme.

Hidden Disabilities Lanyard Scheme

We are the first NHS Trust in the country to roll out an innovative scheme that offers extra support to young patients with a hidden disability.

The scheme was developed in partnership with the Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group and Swindon SEND Families Voice, a local forum for parents of children with disabilities.

Pick up a sunflower lanyard

If you have a child with a condition that has no visible symptoms, such as autism, bipolar disorder and epilepsy, you can pick up a sunflower lanyard (pictured, right) for you or your child to wear during their hospital visit/stay from the Children's Unit or Children's Outpatients.

It is their choice whether they wish to wear one.

The sunflower lanyard highlights to staff that your child has a hidden disability and may need some reasonable adjustments whilst in hospital.

This may include:

  • Simple, concise explanation and communication
  • Talking in direct, short phrases
  • Allowing for delayed responses
  • Keeping your body language calm with hands held low
  • Repeating directions calmly
  • Providing help in avoiding crowded places

If our staff see a child or their parent/carer wearing a sunflower lanyard or a sticker, they have been asked to:

  • Recognise
  • Reassure
  • Respond accordingly

The sunflower lanyard is yours to keep and use on each visit.

Your child can personalise it with badges, key rings and add their name if they wish.


If your child has used the lanyard during their visit/stay in hospital, we want to hear from you.
Let us know what you think by completing a short survey.

Further information

Please see the Swindon SEND Families Voice website.