At the age of two, Gina Incandela was diagnosed with autism. But with early intervention, she flourished and discovered a passion for music—and now she's wowing crowds around the country with her amazing voice.
When Gina Incandela of Kissimmee, Florida was two years old, she was diagnosed with a type of autism called PDD NOS. Her parents weren’t sure if she would ever learn to speak.
But after they enrolled her in a special needs class at the University of Central Florida, things began to change. As it turned out, music was the key to help the silent toddler find her voice—and as soon as she started singing, she never wanted to stop.
“We would recognize the melodies far before we recognized the words. Her pitch and melodies were so accurate,” her mother Michelle told the Orlando Sentinel.
Gina’s favorite singer was Leanne Rimes—and she especially loved Rimes’ rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Soon, Gina had learned to sing the song so beautifully that her parents knew it was time to share their daughter’s gift with the world.
Last spring, when Michelle saw an ad for singers to audition to perform the national anthem at a Houston Astros game, she didn’t really believe that her little girl would be chosen for the momentous event. But Gina wowed the judges—and, at the game, her stunning performance brought many of the 40,000 cheering fans to tears. Her performance launched the child to instant fame, with performances at more sports events including the US Open and several Orlando Magic basketball games, as well as the Today Show. She’s even released her first single: a ballad just written for her, entitled “I Dare to Dream.”
While Gina still has some difficulties in social situations, her love of music has helped her to thrive. She’s attending mainstream classes in a private school, and has many friends there. And while she still faces challenges every day, Gina’s story shows how much an autistic person can accomplish with help and support from people who love her.
“Many families that receive a similar diagnosis are struck with fear and react with denial,” Gina’s mother writes on her website. “They are overwhelmed with the feeling that their child will never achieve the same goals as other children. Well, Gina is an example that these children are capable of wonderful things. Gina has gracefully walked through every door that has been opened for her through early intervention. It is my hope that others will hear her story so that their children may follow through those doors to reach their own goals and fulfill their own dreams.”
Watch an amazing video of Gina’s most recent performance.