AN internationally renowned opera singer from Dorset who was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at the age of 45 has shared her story to inspire young people living with autism that anything is possible.

Sophia Grech, who has performed in front of royalty and presidents, has spoken out about coming to terms with her own late diagnosis following a chance meeting with a woman whose son had been diagnosed with autism.

Sophia said: “This mother said that meeting me had given her hope that her son could have a successful life. A lot of people I speak to struggle to believe what I was like as a young person. I could barely read and write. I couldn’t tell the time until I was 12. Since then I have graduated from the Royal College of Music, the top music college in the country, and I now perform regularly at concerts across the world. I have even performed for the President of Malta.”

Discovering a passion for music and a natural ability to sing was a defining moment for Sophia.

She said: “I was told at school I had no natural talent for music. But music was always my passion and I started singing lessons at 14 years old. I taught myself to read music at 15 and was eventually accepted at the prestigious Royal College of Music in London.”

Sophia’s career then started to take off, but she continued to find certain things difficult like social situations and travelling. It wasn’t until her life-changing diagnosis at the age of 45, that she finally understood why.

Sophia said: “I wasn’t so lucky at school and struggled so much. I only started getting answers to my questions after my diagnosis. It has made such a positive difference to me.”

She added: "Autism in itself is not a negative, it is people’s lack of understanding and a lack of support that makes its impact so potentially damaging. My message to anyone with autism is that if I can achieve my dreams, so can you. Anything is possible.”

Sophia is an ambassador for Christchurch-based autism support charity, Autism Wessex, and is encouraging people to get behind the charity’s Big Brekkie campaign which is running throughout April.

To register for the Big Brekkie visit