Mia Koullas learned she was the only student not invited to a peer's birthday party the very same week she was diagnosed with autism. Her mother, Katie Koullas, was heartbroken. That's when she came up with the idea for Yellow Ladybugs, a nonprofit organization that throws birthday parties for young girls with autism.
In an interview with The Daily Mail, Katie recalled her thought process upon hearing that Mia hadn't been invited to the party. "I remember thinking it was really unfair that so many girls, who may be a bit different and quirky, don't get included," she said. Katie's initial research proved that similar organizations already existed, however, they were mostly focused on boys with special needs. She added, "I just went alright, if it doesn't exist, we've gotta create it."
Named after Mia's favorite little critters, Yellow Ladybugs now regularly hosts themed birthday parties and fun events for girls with autism between the ages of 5 and 12. Right now the events are limited to cities throughout Australia, but Katie hopes the organization will raise awareness and inspire parents to host these parties around the world.
Although Yellow Ladybugs helps many children and their parents, it's also deeply affected Katie and Mia, personally. The carefree and sensory friendly events have helped Mia build her confidence and social skills, Katie told The Daily Mail. Adding, "There was absolutely nothing wrong with her, she's brilliant, amazing, creative and clever — she just needed to find someone who gets her. That's exactly what Yellow Ladybugs does for all our girls, it gives them a place to connect and feel celebrated."