The Lanyard

Icon of lanyard, white on blue.
The Lanyard. Charley Perryn 2021. I wrote this poem to capture the relationship I have with the sunflower lanyard and the challenges and blessings it brings during the Covid 19 pandemic.

It hangs around my neck,

I am exempt from wearing a face covering

It says. I have an unseen disability!

I can’t wear a mask.

I am autistic.

As  I have sensory processing


The mask feels like its

Cutting into my face

Like a knife, it’s extremely painful!

And this sensation causes panic….

And I can’t breathe.

It’s leads to sensory overload

And my brain shuts down.

I have to declare to the world

That I am disabled,

How would you like to

Hang a sign around your neck,

Saying I have XYZ..private

Personal information?

Just to go into the shop

To get a loaf of bread?

My brain is wired differently,

In a world that labels anything

It does not understand a disorder!

I’m not disordered!

It is the world and it’s thinking

That is disordered…..

That every Being fits into a box.

And that every brain is the same!

The lanyard is part of Me now,

I hate it, but I accept it’s my

Pass to gain access to

A world,

Where autistic people fight for

A place to be valued as Human.

I have been shamed and degraded,

On a bus, for having it round my neck.

Accused by a bus driver for

Spreading covid, for being some

Non mask wearing bandit!

Intent on infecting everyone insight!

Passengers moved to the back

Of the bus, away from me

The covid spreading scum.

And I stood there, with no

Words coming out my mouth.

Because my brain couldn’t

Process the drivers anger

And know how to respond.

I felt like a second class citizen,

A worthless human being,

But the lanyard that hangs

Around my neck

Is a blessing as well as a curse.

For despite the shaming,

I have seen hearts open

And people smile and say

How Can I help you?

And they really mean it!

Places have become accessible

For me, as people have taken

Time to listen and help.

Simple measures like

Giving me information in written


Extra time to process new information

Turning off the music,

Turning off the lights

Speaking in clear simple language.

My brain is seen as neurodiverse

Not weird.

The lanyard is like

A window to the soul,

Of another Human being……

It brings the worst and best out

In Humanity.

For now it is my pass,

To ride the bus

And buy a loaf of bread.

But I dream of a world

Where there is acceptance  of me,

And neurodiversity.

And the Lanyard will

Be consigned to the

History books.

Charley Perryn, 2021.

I wrote this poem to capture the relationship I have with the sunflower lanyard and the challenges and blessings it brings during the Covid 19 pandemic.


  1. Such a powerful poem. Good to hear the experience of a person with the Sunflower lanyard and the reaction of people to it. Nobody has the right to question your right to wear it. Thanks for the poem.

  2. Diversity in all its forms is to be celebrated. It makes the world a much more interesting place to live and this poem offers a greater understanding of autism in particular…. it’s joys and challenges. A beautiful perspective, beautifully written.

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