Young blonde woman playing the guitar and singing

19-year-old Hannah Smedley has achieved some remarkable things in her life – including shooting music videos, performing on stage in front of 45,000 people and even being nominated for an Adelaide Youth Award.

Hannah, who lives with autism (also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder – ASD), says music is her “safe haven”.

“It’s the first thing I turn to because it helps me mentally. Sometimes in life things are difficult and I use that to write songs and express how I feel.

“Music is my therapist and my go-to. I enjoy bringing that to other people as well.”

Nothing comes easy

Hannah went through high school feeling isolated, misunderstood, mistreated and judged or labelled – making it challenging to connect with others, or build up her self-esteem.  

“Sometimes people would only see me as autistic or have a disability. I later realised that having autism is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a gift that I am very proud to have.”

During her discovery into music, Hannah realised she was no longer going to say sorry “for being me and trying to please and impress others” - a thought process which inspired songs such as her hit, Plastic Jewellery.  

“Plastic jewellery is not considered as precious as real jewellery and it was my way of saying that we are all precious no matter what our differences.”

Young blonde woman sitting on stool, playing the guitar, and singing 

Healing through music

Feros Care recognised that music was an incredible way to keep Hannah inspired and happy. We worked with Hannah to link her with Lift Up Voices, a group which offers music and creative arts through programs designed to help develop skills, social connection and confidence.

Hannah’s mentor at Lift Up Voices also helped her record Plastic Jewellery, and she is now working herself as a vocal coach with other young people a few days a week.

“I’m so honoured just to have the opportunity to mentor. It’s an absolute blessing.

“It’s spreading the love and helping each other and educating the youth to be kind to each other, no matter what.”

Hannah’s mentor also helps her navigate the technology necessary for her live performances, as well as set up for her gigs and use social media.

One of Hannah’s goals was to take part in a group or community network and she is also able to access sessions with a psychologist which would complement her musical journey.

Being a part of Lift Up Voices, Hannah says, has contributed to a healthy mindset.

She says that to maintain her positive mental health, it’s important not to feel isolated, and “it feels good” to sing about her emotions and experiences.

Good vibrations

Next, Hannah is keen to release an album which would be a “story line” of her life.

“I’ve noticed that when I sing songs that relate to me, I’m not the only one who feels that way.

“Whether you’re on the spectrum or not, I can see that other people go through the same things.”

Hannah says it’s important to “stop and think about what we’re doing in our lives” and check-in with each other.

“I like to write songs to tell people that being kind to each other is the most important thing.

"I don’t want to be known as the girl with autism who can sing. It’s more, ‘I’m Hannah and I’m here to mentor and inspire … whether you’re on the spectrum or not.’”

Listen to the very talented Hannah Smedley singing Plastic Jewellery on YouTube now.

Feros Care has partnered with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to help people with disability live healthy, fulfilling and connected lives. A Local Area Coordinator (LAC) works with participants (like Hannah) to understand what is important to them and connect them to the services that will support them to live the life they want. For more, find out here: https://www.feroscare.com.au/ndis

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