10-year-old singer with autism says 'pursue your dream'

A 10-year-old singer with autism says busking in busy Belfast and streaming to thousands of fans from her home has helped her find her voice.

Isla McManus from North Belfast has been turning heads in the Cornmarket shopping area, and has gathered up over 18,000 followers on her appropriately named 'Isla loves to sing' Facebook page.

The primary pupil loves belting out any tunes she feels she "can relate to", from Elvis Presley to The Animals to Christina Perry to hits from Disney's Frozen.

Speaking after a busy day at school, Isla told UTV how she always loved to sing, but it kicked off when a video of her singing the hit song Dance Monkey went viral.

"Literally I got famous in about two or three days," she said.

"It was my first time busking and Uncle Jim was my bodyguard, then he told me that this lady came up and said that I just made her day.

"When people are happy, I'm happy."

Isla was so excited to speak to us, and showed off her blue streaks in her hair, but said she is excited to change them to pink for a singing contest for autistic children next weekend in London.

She revealed that she does get nervous sometimes, and the trick to overcome it is just to think "how embarrassing it would be" if she ran off the stage mid performance.

Alana, Isla and UTV's Sarah McKinley.

Her mum Alana Patterson said she is delighted to see her daughter thriving.

"It jut makes me so proud, because she has struggled through life obviously with her diagnosis for autism.

"At the start people tell you 'she won't be able to do this' and she can't do this'... and look at her, look at her go.

"She's absolutely amazing and we jut get messages from all over the world admiring her bravery and her positivity."

Isla hopes to pursue a career in singing, and is considering applying to some well known television talent shows - so watch this space.

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