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19 September 2019, 15:27 | Updated: 19 September 2019, 16:17
A young boy with autism has become an online sensation after his mother secretly filmed him singing a pitch-perfect rendition of ‘Hallelujah’.
Justin Kiely-May, 9, was diagnosed with autism when he was three years old.
He would find it upsetting to hear loud noises or high-pitched music, and his parents would avoid bringing him to any birthday parties, crowds and large gatherings because of it. He also regularly wore ear defenders to protect himself.
But it turns out, Justin was hiding a beautiful voice. His mum Andrea caught him singing along to Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, with pitch-perfect delivery.
After Andrea secretly filmed him, his uncle Brandon Craig uploaded the video to Twitter on 16 September and it went viral, garnering more than 83,000 likes and 14,000 retweets.
Justin’s uncle shared the video with the caption: ‘My nephew only 9 years of age, cause of his autism he can’t listen to a lot of songs but when he likes a song he knows how to sing gonna be a superstar.’ [sic]
Thousands of people online agreed, with Twitter user Lauren Dumble saying: ‘What a gorgeous voice!! I need to hear more of this!!!’
Catherina Blewitt wrote: ‘Oh that just made my day! Wonderful’, while Billy Killen added: ‘As a parent of a child with autism, that hit me for six.’
Justin’s mum has since sent the singing video to his teacher who showed it to his school in Dublin, giving Justin a place in their choir.
Andrea described her son as a ‘pure loving little boy’, and said she was happy so many people have been able to hear his singing voice.
“Justin was diagnosed with autism at three and most of his life he has struggled with music, especially high-pitched songs,” she said.
“We dreaded going to birthday parties just in case they played a song he didn’t like as it would upset him for days. We got him ear defenders and that helped.”
She added: “He got to know ‘Hallelujah’ and one day I heard him sing along to the song, so I turned the music down and just listened and recorded him.
“I can’t look at his little face without wanting to cry, happy tears, of course. He’s just such a pure loving little boy and I’m so glad that now people get to see what I see. He was born to perform he has so much confidence.”