This Mom’s Response to Autism Being 5 Times More Likely for Boys Than Girls
When Dawn Douglas found out her daughter Trinity has autism, she knew the 2-year-old wasn’t alone. Autism now affects approximately one in 68 children, according to the National Autism Association. Of the challenges autism can present, forming relationships proved difficult for Trinity.
“The things I take for granted, like easily making friends, she fights hard for,” Douglas told The Mighty in an email. Douglas knew of many support groups for children with autism, but none of them had many girls in them. Boys are fives times more likely than girls to have autism, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Agonizing over Trinity’s social future, Douglas decided to start My Circle of Girls (MyCoG), a group to foster friendships for girls with autism. Started in March 2014, MyCoG holds monthly programs in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
One event in particular stands out to Douglas. Last summer, MyCoG had a two-part swimming lesson for the group members. A scary reality of autism is the risk of drowning, which is among the leading causes of death for people with autism, according to the National Autism Association. Douglas knew two lessons wouldn’t ensure every girl could swim, but she and other parents were comforted knowing the girls were introduced to life-saving skills. “That was when I realized that MyCoG is not only a social and service group, [but also] it is a more holistic approach to addressing the needs of girls living with autism,” Douglas told The Mighty.
While Douglas has always had a strong relationship with Trinity, who’s now 6, she acknowledges that MyCoG has given them even more time together and even changed her mindset as a parent.
“MyCoG has really changed my life,” Douglas said. “It has given me new perspective on parenting a child with autism. It has offered Trinity new friends, invitations to gatherings and a diverse network of support for our family.”
At first, MyCoG held events for girls ages 2 to 6, but in August 2014 it expanded to include girls ages 2 to 11. In the future, Douglas hopes they can include girls up to 18 years old, and she wants to expand throughout the state and country.
“MyCoG has opened new doors in the autism community as well as [for] girl empowerment,” Douglas said.