THE awareness of autism is growing – but one Ballarat mother is determined to make sure girls with autism don’t fly under the radar.
Vicky Robinson founded Yellow Ladybugs Ballarat in a bid to ensure there were support groups for autistic girls and their families.
Ms Robinson’s daughter Rachel was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome two years ago. Ms Robinson said this was a really difficult time in the young family’s life.
“Rachel really flew under the radar, she was quiet and withdrawn and seen as shy,” Ms Robinson said.
The family sought specialist help and Rachel was diagnosed. Ms Robinson tried to get her daughter involved in as many social activities as possible.
We hope to educate the community about the different ways girls present on the autism spectrum, compared to boys.- Katie Koullas, Founder
“She wasn’t really connecting with the other girls and would have melt downs,” Ms Robinson said.
Ms Robinson, desperate to find friends that Rachel could connect with, thought about setting up her own group for girls on the autism spectrum.
“I did some research and came across Yellow Ladybugs,” Ms Robinson said.
Yellow Ladybugs founder Katie Koullas created the group to educate the community about how girls on the autism spectrum were affected.
“We hope to educate the community about the different ways girls present on the autism spectrum, compared to boys,” Ms Koullas said.
“We started Yellow Ladybugs to help socially connect girls on the spectrum and are hoping the #GoYellow campaign goes global and really changes the way the world sees and celebrates our girls.”
Ms Koullas said autism spectrum disorder is becoming one of the most commonly diagnosed disabilities in Australia. She said research shows around one in 63 primary school aged children have a formal ASD diagnosis.
“Many people still have the misconception that it predominately affects males,” Ms Koullas said.
Ms Robinson immediately connected with Ms Koullas and will officially launch the Ballarat branch of Yellow Ladybugs at the autism forum next month. The group will host activities for girls.
“Rachel is such a book worm, she loves anything that is crafty – she loves learning about the fine detail,” Ms Robinson said.
“(At the Melbourne group) she actually was (engaged with her peers), she felt like she was part of group.
“They all wear yellow t-shirts so that helps.”
For Ms Robinson, seeing her daughter happy and making friends is a relief. Meeting other parents who understand her daughter is also wonderful. To find out more visit the Yellow Ladybugs Ballarat Facebook page.
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