FOR young girls living on the autism spectrum, opportunities to connect with like-minded people aren’t always afforded.
Daisy Cox, director of ‘A Little Sparkle’, who has autism herself, recognised this as she was growing up and wanted to do something about it.
Based in Caloundra, A Little Sparkle is a community organisation that brings girls together who are on the autism spectrum.
Ms Cox said that growing up she didn’t have any positive autistic role models in her life and often found it hard to “fit in”.
“I was seven when I was diagnosed with autism,” she said.
“I had friends but I was quite lonely.
“I didn’t understand why my friends had their cliques and things.
“I was invited to parties and things but nothing excited me because I just didn’t understand.”
It wasn’t until Ms Cox was a teenager that she met another person on the spectrum and things started to feel more “normal”.
“I was involved in mentorship programs but nothing solely for girls,” she said.
“I came up here from Melbourne and there really wasn’t anything like it.”
Ms Cox said her biggest reward was seeing how her programs benefit the girls.
“I had a mum say to me how they loved how we rejoiced in her daughter’s differences,” she said.
“I had a little girl hug me when her mum said she wouldn’t even look at me.
“We’ve had people travel to us because there’s nothing else like it.”
Now just over a year into the organisation’s establishment it’s booming with a New Zealand arm now open.
“The plan was to go state-wide and then someone heard me speak at a conference,” Ms Cox said.
“So now we’re in New Zealand fully run by autistic women.”
Ms Cox said they also now have the backing of the Layne Beachley Foundation which is heavily focussed on women’s empowerment.
“We will be starting to run self-esteem and self-care workshops as well,” she said.
“Lots of our girls now ask for that kind of advice.
“It will be everything from mental health to making bath bombs.”
Ms Cox said as the organisation has grown so have their events, now catering for more girls than ever before.
“I think the one that I opened my eyes was the Disney on Ice,” she said.
“We took 70 girls over two performances.
“We sat in a different room and had our own special entrance.
“That got me because it was something these girls would have never been able to have gone to.”
For more information about A Little Sparkle and its events, visit www.facebook.com/alittle sparklegroup/.