So many invisible reasons to attempt to break the official GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS ™ title for the longest lanyard

Back in December, on International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we set ourselves the challenge of collating enough invisible disabilities and conditions to produce the Guinness World Records™ title for the longest lanyard.

With your help, we've managed to accumulate over 850 different reasons that someone might chose to wear the Sunflower, to raise awareness of the wide range of non-visible disabilities and conditions that Sunflower wearers experience.

The Guinness world Records attempt logo

We believe that the more we all understand about non-visible disabilities, the more we can support people experiencing them. And that's certainly been our experience during our Guinness World Records™ attempt, with lots of people sharing conditions with us that few people, including ourselves, are aware of.

Here we have selected some of the invisible disabilities, that are perhaps less talked about than other non-obvious conditions, to improve awareness and help us all better understand them.

Sunflower Syndrome

Sunflower Syndrome is a rare form of epilepsy that starts in children under the age of 10. People with this type of epilepsy turn towards a bright light while simultaneously waving one hand in front of their eyes. This unique behaviour is coupled with abrupt lapses in consciousness.

As of today, it is not known what causes Sunflower Syndrome. Although, because it typically begins during the first decade of life there may be a genetic connection.

A field of sunflowers

People with Sunflower Syndrome can also experience other types of seizures. These include absence seizures and generalised tonic-clonic seizures. For some, tonic-clonic seizures occur after prolonged exposure to bright light and prolonged hand waving episodes.

There is currently no clinical or laboratory standard for diagnosing Sunflower Syndrome. However, individuals with Sunflower syndrome have abnormal electroencephalograms (EEGs) with features consistent with generalised epilepsy.

There have not been any clinical trials to investigate the effectiveness of treatments for Sunflower Syndrome. For this reason, it is unknown if any anticonvulsant medications or treatments are particularly effective.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is a rare neurological disorder that changes how the brain perceives things. It can affect how a person experiences sight, hearing, touch, sensation and/or time.

The most common visual distortions are micropsia, in which a person sees objects as smaller than they actually are, and teleopsia, where objects appear farther away than they are in reality.

The name comes from Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in which the protagonist, Alice, experiences situations similar to those that occur with this condition. In addition to the misperception of objects size and location, distorted body image and an altered perception of time are also symptoms of this condition. You may recall that in the opening chapters of Carroll's novel, Alice shrinks to get through a tiny door while further on in the book she becomes gigantic. And the subject of time and being late is represented throughout the story in the character of the white rabbit.

A scene from Alice in wonderland. The mad hatter is sat at a table set for tea to the left. In the foreground the white rabbit holds a pocket watch. There are flowers with faces to the left and toadstools to the right. Alice is in the background.

It’s not clear what causes Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, but people who have migraines or epilepsy are more likely to experience the syndrome.

The course of treatment for Alice in Wonderland Syndrome depends on the underlying cause. If migraine is the source of the condition, your doctor may suggest managing migraines through diet and preventive medication. However, if epilepsy is causing the symptoms, your doctor may prescribe anti-epileptics. If an infection is responsible, they may offer antiviral agents.


Prosopagnosia, also called face blindness, is a condition where you have difficulty recognising people's faces.

People with the condition, still see the parts of a face normally, but all faces may look the same to them.

Most of us will occasionally have trouble recognising faces we've seen before, but prosopagnosia is much more severe than this. Prosopagnosics have difficulty knowing whether they have seen a face before, and they often have problems recognising faces they have encountered many times. In extreme cases, prosopagnosics have trouble recognising even those people that they spend the most time with such as their spouse and children. It is important to note that prosopagnosia is defined by problems recognising faces, not recalling names.

People with prosopagnosia tend to use alternative ways of recognition, such as hair, the way people walk, clothing or the sound of their voice but these routes are not as effective as recognition via the face. Not surprisingly, prosopagnosia can create serious social problems. Several estimates suggest 1 in 50 people are prosopagnosic. Prosopagnosia can be accompanied by recognition impairments that affect other categories such as scenes, cars, and facial expressions of emotion, but in some cases, face recognition deficits occur in isolation.

One of the most common complaints of prosopagnosics is that they have trouble following the plot of television shows and movies, because they cannot keep track of the identity of the characters.

Prosopagnosia can occur:

  • if you do not develop the ability to recognise faces – this is the most common type and may run in families
  • from brain damage, such as following a stroke, head injury, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), or Alzheimer's disease
  • if you're autistic.

Currently, we have a limited understanding of prosopagnosia.

The Invisible Disabilities Index

Hidden Disabilities animated characters on a train.

Of course there are also invisible conditions and disabilities that many people experience and were entered multiple times on our world's longest lanyard page such as asthma, dyslexia and diabetes, to name a few. Within our Invisible Disabilities Index you'll find detailed information about specific conditions, the different types of symptoms, treatments available and the effect this non-obvious condition can have on a persons daily life. You can also find out how you can offer support and assistance to a person with this invisible disability. This index continues to evolve, so be sure to check back in from time to time to learn about new hidden disabilities that we've researched and added.