A LACK of funds has stopped 23-year-old Ana Nguyen of Fairfield from representing Australia in the International Naturally Autistic People Awards Convention and Festival next month.
She was one of only four Australians selected for the convention in Canada, which recognises and celebrates the accomplishments and achievements of people with autism.
She hopes that next year she will have the funds and be selected to go.
The convention was going to be a big break for Miss Nguyen as she had also been selected to give a hip-hop performance there.
Miss Nguyen was diagnosed with autism when she was three.
Her parents, who had migrated here from Vietnam in 1987, were naturally shocked by the diagnosis.
Miss Nguyen faced many challenges educationally and socially while she was at school, but learnt to become more comfortable and confident with herself.
"It's something that I've had to accept," she said.
"I was born to be different. I was born to stand out from the crowd and I was born to be me.
"The most challenging part is that I have to adapt and cope with all those difficult times.
"I remember I had meltdowns and I remember losing my temper.
"I felt ashamed because I always wanted to be like everyone else, and it was tough and it was difficult."
However, at the age of 12, she found her passion for music through a school performance for which she was given an award.
Two years after that, she discovered acting and took part in three theatre productions from 2005 to 2009.
"It was the best time of my life," she said. "That's what made me happy."
In 2007, she was inspired by a rapper and got into producing hip-hop music.
Miss Nguyen has believed in her ability ever since finding her passion for the arts. She tells her story to people living with a disability in the hope that they too will find their strengths and achieve their dreams.
A Youtube video of a song she created can be found at http://tinyurl.com/k9g9s6x.