Hidden Disabilities Sunflower making travel easier

Hidden Disabilities Sunflower making travel easier

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower: A Symbol of Support and Inclusivity in Travel

Traveling can be a great adventure, but it can also be stressful, particularly for those with hidden disabilities. Hidden disabilities may not be immediately apparent but can significantly impact an individual’s travel experience. In recent years, a new initiative known as the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower has been making travel more accessible and comfortable for people with non-visible disabilities.

Understanding the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is a discreet yet powerful symbol that individuals with non-visible disabilities can wear when traveling. This sunflower symbol indicates to airport staff, colleagues, and health professionals that the person wearing it may require additional support, assistance, or simply a little more time during their travel journey. The Sunflower symbol invites understanding and empathy.

The initiative has gained widespread recognition and adoption, with over 220 airports around the world implementing the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program. These airports have gone a step further by training their entire workforce to support individuals with non-visible disabilities, making travel a more inclusive and stress-free experience for everyone.

An Easier Travel Experience

A travel story from a Mid North Coast family was shared with Early Connections recently. Flynn’s family, embarked on an overseas adventure from Sydney. Seven-year-old Flynn and his family had great experience that highlights the importance of awareness and support in the travel industry.

Flynn’s mother shared their journey:

“We picked the lanyards up at Airport Information for free. Airport staff treated us like royalty and kept saying “sunflower” to each other. We were given separate security and customs. No rushing at all. And Singapore Airlines are boarding us first and have given us two extra seats!!”

The positive experience of Flynn’s family shows that small acts of kindness, understanding, and awareness can make traveling a lot easier for families.

For more information

If you have a positive holiday story like Flynn’s or want to learn more about the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program, you can visit their website. Sharing stories supports improving accessibility and inclusivity for people with disabilities.

Pictured – Flynn wearing the Sunflower Lanyard with his sister Heidi.

Chatterbox Connection

Chatterbox Connection

The Australian Childhood Foundation has some wonderful resources for parents and families.

They work to share knowledge in practical and evidence-based ways that support children and young people. Their training, tools and resources draw on the Foundation’s 30 year history working with children and young people, as well as working with leading thinkers in the fields of neuroscience, trauma and safeguarding.

The Chatterbox Connection is a game to encourage and explore connection.

This chatterbox game invites us to play and learn more about each other. One person operates the chatterbox, while the other takes a turn at choosing from its options to make their way to the centre of the folded paper which has activity ideas to choose from.

How to Use a Chatterbox:

  • The Chatterbox operator holds the chatterbox on thumbs and fingers.
  • The player chooses from the four outside sides,then the chatterbox operator spells out their choice while moving the parts of the chatterbox.
  • The player chooses a number from the four inner numbers, then the chatterbox operator counts out the number, moving the chatterbox again.
  • The player chooses a number again and the chatterbox operator opens out the flap with the chosen number on it.
  • The player chooses from two activity prompts written beneath the chosen number.
  • Swap and repeat. Different choices will lead to different activity options in the centre.

Thanks to the Australian Childhood Foundation for this great resource. You can visit their website for more activities and resources. 

Chatterbox Resource

Download the Origami Chatterbox Australian Childhood Foundation

Winter Aquatic Therapy Lessons with Occupational Therapist

Winter Aquatic Therapy Lessons with Occupational Therapist

Winter Aquatic Therapy Sessions with Occupational Therapist 

Join Early Connections Winter Aquatic Therapy Sessions led by our Occupational Therapist or Occupational Therapy Assistants. All our instructors are Autism Swim approved.

The aquatic therapy sessions are not swimming lessons but are provided by an Occupational Therapy Assistant or Occupational Therapist to build skills, safety and confidence in a water environment.

You can pay for aquatic therapy sessions using your NDIS therapy funding due to them being provided by qualified/experienced therapists/therapy assistants.  Sessions are run one-to-one so that the session is specifically tailored to the individual’s needs/skills. Often clients use part of their OT allocation funds for aquatic therapy, therefore a portion of their total OT is used for aquatic therapy.

Dive into the benefits for your child:

  • Safe entry and exit practice
  • Water familiarity (tolerance of water, ability to put eyes under water)
  • Breath control (ability to hold breath and blow bubbles under water)
  • Front and back floating
  • Propulsion to exit (ability to move self in the water in order to exit water bodies safely).

About the pool

The pool is enclosed via industrial café blinds, therefore has the versatility of being both an indoor and outdoor pool. This gives us the opportunity to continue sessions over Winter as we are able to heat the pool and keep the space warm during the colder months.

Make a splash this winter with Early Connections Aquatic Therapy

Currently we are offering the following sessions:
  • Fridays 9am to 2pm (ongoing starting Friday 23 June 2023)
  • One block in the holidays where participants can attend a session daily or just for one session one day
  • Holiday dates available 4th July, 5th July and 6th July. Sessions run all day.

Limited spots available!

  • Register today by emailing Paige@earlyconnections-pmh.org.au
  • Early Connections: (02) 6583 8238 earlyconnections.org.au
What is the NDIS Key Worker Model?

What is the NDIS Key Worker Model?

Early Connections adopts the Key Worker Model for early childhood intervention for children aged 0-6 years. This approach provides personalised support and resources for families who have children with developmental delays or disabilities. 

NDIS National Disability Support Scheme 

The NDIS Key Worker Model gives children with developmental delays and disabilities the best possible start in life. It is the best practice Early Childhood Intervention model identified by the NDIS to support families. If you are eligible for the NDIS and would like to access Early Connections education, therapy and support contact your local team.  

A family centred approach 

The Key Worker model is family centred, this means the family is listened to and leads all supports being provided to their child and family. Regular communication and sharing of information between the Key Worker and the family helps to ensure that the family is involved in decision-making and goal setting for your child. 

The Key Worker is the primary point of contact between the family and the transdisciplinary team of early childhood professionals. They work with the family to develop goals and an individual plan for the child and they provide support and coaching to the family and other important people in the child’s life, to help the child learn and develop through their everyday activities. 

Support in a child’s natural environment 

The Key Worker also supports the child in their natural environment, whether it be at home, preschool or school, which is great because it ensures that the intervention is just a natural part of the child’s daily life. This is empowering for the family because they learn how to maximise everyday learning opportunities and advocate for their child’s needs. This ensures that the child is learning and developing through their everyday activities and routines, and that the intervention is included into their daily life. The Key Worker provides support and coaching to the family to maximise everyday learning opportunities and to promote the child’s development. 

A personalised approach 

One of the main benefits of the Key Worker Model is that it provides a personalised approach to early childhood intervention. The Key Worker works with the family to develop goals and an individual plan for the child, taking into consideration their unique strengths, challenges and interests. This personalised approach ensures that the child is receiving the most appropriate support and resources to meet their specific needs. 

Skills to advocate for your child 

In addition to supporting the child’s development, the Key Worker also works to empower the family by providing them with skills and knowledge to understand their rights and capacity to advocate for their child. This helps to ensure that the family is equipped to make informed decisions and to access the support and resources that their child needs. 


Coffs Coast New Graduate Opportunities

Coffs Coast New Graduate Opportunities

Fourth-year allied health graduates are invited to apply to Early Connections Coffs Coast to join the New Graduate Program. This is a wonderful opportunity for Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology new grads seeking mentorship and employment with a not for profit organisation.

Do you have a passion for early childhood intervention and working within a transdisciplinary team? We have a fantastic opportunity for the right people to join our organisation. If you are a New Graduate in Occupational Therapy or Speech Pathology we want to hear from you.

Download the Expression of Interest for the New Graduate Program Recruitment. We wanted to give you all advanced notice that we are recruiting OT and SP positions for 2023.


Grad Program Coffs Coast Early Connections

Early Connections is recruiting for 2022

Early Connections is recruiting for 2022

Early Connections has a number of positions open for applications. The Early Connections Alliance has ongoing opportunities to join our wonderful highly experienced team.
If you’re looking for an exciting challenge, starting your career or searching for a seachange share your expression of interest with us today.

Coffs Coast

Kempsey and Port Macquarie

Manning and Great Lakes

At Early Connections you will experience:

    • fantastic mentoring and learning opportunities from a transdisciplinary team of over 60 professionals
    • a relaxed yet purpose-driven lifestyle on the Mid North Coast, NSW
    • positive impactful relationships with families and children with disabilities
    • early childhood intervention best practice and ongoing professional development
    • flexible family-friendly work arrangements and salary packaging with above Award Conditions


Explore our website to find out more about us and visit our careers page. Have a question? Contact us to find out more.