SHE featured in a BBC documentary and has sang at Carnegie Hall in New York.

But Carly Ryan, who is on the autistic spectrum, takes it all in her stride regardless of how many hundreds – or thousands – of people she is performing for.

The 30-year-old’s mum Karen said that Carly ‘comes alive’ when she steps onto a stage and she will be doing just that on Disability Awareness Day on Sunday. She will be performing at the arts marquee and has been involved with the yearly event since 2008. Karen said that discovering music and arts at residential school at Alderwasley Hall in Matlock was the turning point for Carly.

She said: “Carly’s behaviour was very challenging. She used to rip her curtains down and attack her dad Vinny. Vinny still has marks and scars on his arms from that. But she learnt more strategies to cope the older she got. She can still have her odd moment but she is a lovely young woman now.

“Carly’s always been dramatic. When she was seven or eight we realised she had a nice singing voice but she would only sing a line of a song or something like that until she went to Alderwasley Hall School.

“They had a fantastic arts department and it was in the Christmas of 1999 that Carly did a solo of Once in Royal David’s City. Because it was in an old church and there was so much atmosphere the hairs on the back of our necks stood up.

“Carly can find things very difficult. With her autism she has trouble with the spoken language. But when she performs it’s different. She doesn’t just sing she comes alive. It’s given her confidence. She could sing in front of 1,000 people and then go off stage and read a Beano because with Carly it’s all about the here and now.”

Carly’s transformation was picked up by BBC Three when she featured on Autistic Superstars with Reggie Yates in 2010.

Karen added: “That led to someone contacting us from The McCarton Foundation in America asking us if Carly wanted to sing in New York.

“At first we thought it was wind-up but it was real and she ended up singing at Carnegie Hall. Not many people can say that.

“She knew all about Carnegie Hall as she loves the swing music of the 1930s it’s associated with so she was made up to be playing there. We really nervous but Carly took it all in her stride. She had her name on the dressing room and things like that.”

Carly, who is influenced by Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, was diagnosed with autism and learning difficulties when she was just three. Her brother Craig, 32, and sister Beth, 25, are also on the autistic spectrum.

Karen said: “It has been difficult. It has had a big impact on our family life. People say how do you manage with three but that is our life so we’ve really known no different.

“It’s been a battle getting the right education and the right input from social services. Craig was diagnosed 29 years ago and you would have thought that things would become easier. But you hear of parents having the same problems as when we were going through the process.”

n Carly will be performing at the Disability Awareness Day arts marquee at Walton Gardens at 12pm on Sunday. For more information visit