A singer whose niece has Asperger Syndrome has written a heartfelt song to make people aware of the condition – and all proceeds will be going to the National Autistic Society.
Rachael Hawnt, half of the Portsmouth-based duo The Beautiful Secret, wrote the song What’s Inside with fellow musician Ashley Cutler after they were inspired by 17-year-old Katie-Rae Hawnt.
The track has been adopted as the anthem for World Autism Awareness week, which runs from March 27 to April 2 and the video, which stars Katie-Rae, has already had more than 4,000 views.
Rachael said: ‘Katie-Rae was a huge influence in writing our first single. We asked her how she felt and she admitted she felt like an outsider.
‘The song draws on her personal struggle and puts into words how she feels about living with autism.
‘We hope people will take comfort in the lyrics and relate to them and that it may help others become more aware of what it is like to live with autism.’
Katie-Rae, who is studying animal care at college, is one of around 700,000 people in the UK living with autism.
She said: ‘It was difficult when I was at school because the teachers often just thought I was being naughty and didn’t really understand me.
‘I hope the lyrics in the song show people that we are not crazy, we are just different.’
Rachael added: ‘Katie-Rae had learning difficulties plus many fears and phobias from the get-go.
I hope the lyrics in the song show people that we are not crazy, we are just differentKatie-Rae Hawnt, who has Asperger syndrome
‘She has struggled with social situations, self-harming and depression all of her life, but she is still a strong and loving person with a fantastic artistic flare and a big, big heart.
‘Katie-Rae was enthusiastic about the prospect of helping others, and making a difference – as small as it may be – to help expand awareness for other children and adults living with autism.
‘The most poignant thing Katie-Rae said to me was: “No-one ever listens to me”, which we adapted into the opening line.’
Rachael and Ash have been performing together for four years and last year they followed Will Young on the Common Stage at Victorious Festival.
Ashley said: ‘The song has received a great response so far and lots of people have been in contact with Katie-Rae to say they feel the same way as her. It’s good for people to know they are not alone.’
They play a launch show at The New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth the same day, doors 7.30pm. Tickets £12.50, go to newtheatreroyal.com