Autistic girls and women are often misdiagnosed, misunderstood, or missed completely. Officially, diagnosed males outnumber diagnosed females at a rate of 4 to 1, but emerging research is now challenging this traditionally accepted ratio. Yellow Ladybugs is an Autistic-led community organisation at the forefront of efforts to break down the stereotypes and common misconceptions about autism by bringing autistic girls and women into the public conversation.
Since 2016 we have encouraged Australia to 'Go Yellow' on April 2nd, World Autism Day," Yellow Ladybugs founder Katie Koullas says. "Our Go Yellow campaign is specifically intended to highlight the needs of the female Autistic community, to celebrate their strengths and to draw attention to the particular challenges Autistic girls and women continue to face." Katie says: "Our overarching objective is to shine a positive light on all Autistic females, and to focus on constructive ways to meeting the needs of the our community. We know that when Autistic girls and women have their needs met, and are properly supported, they can thrive. We also know that when they find their tribe, Autistic girls and women can start to feel connected and valued, which can make a profound difference to their sense of wellbeing. This is the society we strive for."
Last year, Yellow Ladybugs also announced that Autistic comedian Hannah Gadsby is joining Yellow Ladybugs as an Ambassador. Katie says: "We are absolutely thrilled to be bringing Hannah on board as an ambassador and role model for our Autistic girls. She can show our girls just what they are capable of and inspire them to celebrate their problem solver brains and to embrace their autistic identity." Hannah Gadsby says about Yellow Ladybugs: "It would have been amazing if something like this had existed when I was growing." She has also spoken about the importance of amplifying Autistic voices: "We need to speak for ourselves."
A number of Autistic Australians have thrown their support behind the campaign. Journalist and screenwriter Clem Bastow points to the importance of centring Autistic voices on April 2nd. "It's heartening to see more and more Autistic women and gender diverse people sharing their stories with the world. Movements like Go Yellow play a big role in elevating the voices of Autistic people, which is so important when it comes to the conversation surrounding Autism. Go Yellow is a tangible way for the community to demonstrate their support and acceptance."
Shadia Hancock, autistic advocate and Yellow Ladybugs ally explains, #GoYellow encourages the general public to move beyond 'awareness raising' and to engage more deeply with the experiences of their Autistic friends, family members and colleagues. "Go Yellow is important to me as it represents love, acceptance and hope. It gives us a tribe and a place to be ourselves. I wish for Awareness to transcend to Acceptance during April!"
#GoYellow has people pledging to change their socials to yellow or to wear yellow on April 2nd. In previous years, Iconic Melbourne landmarks decided to #GoYellow on April 2nd: the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, Bolte Bridge and the Sound Tunnel. Other landmarks that went #GoYellow around Australia included: the Town Hall Clock - Ballarat, VIC, the Convention Centre - Devonport, TAS, Mandurah Bridge lights – Mandurah, WA and Ipswich Civic Centre– Ipswitch, QLD.