Katie Koullas: Yellow Ladybugs
Katie’s ladybugs are a beautiful way for girls with autism to connect
The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has enabled Yellow Ladybugs to host two sensory friendly events in 2018 and to increase the awareness of about undiagnosed autistic girls and women in the local community.
Over 3oo girls attended the events where they were able to enjoy a sensory friendly social experience. Three more sensory friendly events are planned for 2019, including an event dedicated ro connecting carers, which has all been made possible by the Westfield Local Heroes grant.
To Katie Koullas yellow ladybugs are as beautiful as they are rare. And when they gather together it’s lovely.
And just as it’s harder to spot a yellow ladybug than a red ladybug, so too is it harder to spot girls on the autism spectrum than boys.
Katie saw a need to cater for girls when she noticed how many of the therapy groups are dominated by boys.
She formed Yellow Ladybugs in 2015 as a volunteer group and works hard to run events in the local community to help the girls connect with one another, while also offering support to parents and raising awareness that girls can be autistic.
“I simply wanted to help unite girls on the spectrum and create a community that celebrated, nurtured and supported our tribe,” she says.
Over a relatively short period, the group has connected thousands of autistic girls and women, both in person and via its Facebook page.
Its positive impact goes deep into the community, touching extended families, school networks and health professionals.
This is one parent’s touching description of her daughter’s introduction to the club: “She realised she was not alone in the world. She saw girls with headphones and oral sensory necklaces, girls playing parallel and quietly. I saw her shoulders relax and the light return to her eyes; she was not alone.”
Despite having a fulltime job and demanding family responsibilities, Katie has an unwavering commitment to the club and always finds time to focus on the members and advocacy for girls and women with autism.
Katie is overwhelmed and humbled to be voted a Westfield Local Hero but says the title belongs to the whole committee of dedicated Mums who help deliver the programs.