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Autism Friendly and the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower

Aspect’s Autism Friendly Team works with organisations throughout Australia to help develop autism-friendly spaces and events. We are passionate about inclusion and working in partnership, and our work is informed by Autistic and non-Autistic consultants at every stage, embodying the concept of ‘nothing about us, without us’. This is why we partner with Bayley House to promote the Hidden Disability Sunflower scheme.

What is the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme?

Living with a Hidden Disability, like autism, can make accessing the community more challenging for people. Hidden Disabilities can be difficult for others to recognise, which is often the biggest barrier for people accessing additional support and understanding.

People who have a hidden disability can choose to wear a Sunflower lanyard, which discreetly indicates to staff and others that they may need additional time, support or understanding.. This provides a consistent icon that is recognisable between locations, including travelling through the airport, on public transport, attending sport, or going to the museum.

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme is an international approach that is coordinated in Australia by Bayley House. To find out more about the Sunflower initiative visit:

https://www.bayleyhouse.org.au/what-we-do/other-supports/hidden-disabilities/
OR
https://hiddendisabilitiesshop.com.au/

For Organisations

How can the Sunflower Scheme assist my organisation?

  • The sunflower icon connects organisations and communities across the country, encouraging and enabling more people to demonstrate tolerance and actively support inclusion for all.
  • The sunflower breaks down inclusion barriers without the need to detail individual specifics. The scheme allows people to choose to be visible when they want to be. Wearing a Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard discreetly indicates to people around you including staff, colleagues and health professionals that you may need additional support, time or understanding.
  • Seeing the Sunflower Lanyard brings awareness of disability to people who otherwise wouldn’t recognise it, especially staff who have received Hidden Disabilities training.
  • Simply, the sunflower scheme encourages staff to:
    • Ask if they can help
    • Be kind
    • Listen closely
    • Show respect
  • Other sunflower visuals (like posters and badges) allow people with disabilities to feel welcome, understood and valued.
  • The use of sunflower imagery (like staff badges, help desks and sensory-friendly bathrooms) also allows people with hidden disabilities to quickly and easily identify safe people and places where they can be supported and included, without having to wear the lanyard themselves
  • The scheme is internationally recognised
  • The Sunflower scheme is a simple way to start to raise awareness and build understanding across organisations at the early stages of their Disability Diversity and Inclusion conversations

Where does Aspect’s Autism Friendly team fit in?

While the Sunflower brings necessary awareness, there is more we can do to reduce and remove barriers to access for people with hidden disabilities.

In addition to implementing the Sunflower symbol, we support our partners by:

  • Using an evidence-based Autism Friendly Framework
  • Conducting walkthrough assessments of sites and services
  • Providing comprehensive recommendations (including sensory, communication supports and environmental modifications)
  • Developing helpful resources such as sensory maps and visual stories
  • Co-delivering staff training with autistic people
  • Supporting promotion & communication about the program

What is the Sunflowers in Sydney program?

The Autism Friendly developed the Hidden Disabilities Guidelines for all Australian Airports, which was when we first partnered with the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme. The team recently received a government grant to “extend the internationally recognised Hidden Disabilities 'Sunflower' scheme to Sydney's cultural and sporting community.”

The program is called ‘Sunflowers in Sydney’ and allows us to:

  1. develop partnerships with relevant organisations
  2. develop and promote a calendar of Sunflower events
  3. create and promote accessible inclusive on-line training for staff
  4. develop a Sunflower ambassador role for a person with a hidden disability to promote the scheme
  5. undergo a rigorous evaluation supported by Aspect’s Research Centre for Autism Practice that contributes to research and develops practice
  6. develop hidden disabilities ‘how to’ guidelines for representative peak bodies to implement in other communities

Which organisations are involved?

Some of the organisations already on board include:

  • Art Gallery of NSW
  • Australian Museum
  • Australian National Maritime Museum
  • Gracie Jiu Jitsu Parramatta
  • Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • National Centre for Indigenous Excellence
  • Wests Tigers

Help create an autism-friendly Australia

Contact our Autism Friendly Team to learn more about how we can help make your business or event more autism-friendly.

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