Have you heard that viral song about Autism, Unstoppable: A Song for Autism, yet?!
As parents of autistic children, we can all use a little inspiration from time to time to remind us your how incredible our journey is! Even more, we need the world to not only share autism awareness but truly begin to change to autism acceptance. So when a story comes along that does that, we need to not only embrace it but share it with everyone.
What is Autism?
Autism is a developmental disorder. It affects individuals’ behaviors and communication skills. These symptoms can range from mild to severe. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States today.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions. These are characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.
Unstoppable, a song for Autism
This time, that story is a song. Unstoppable, a song for Autism does just that! This song touches the hearts of everyone that hears it. So much so, that it has been shared well over a million times!
Today, we are speaking with Tommy Byrne, one of the creators behind Unstoppable, a song for Autism.
Interview with Tommy Bryne of Unstoppable, a song for Autism
1) How did you come up with the song? Who is your inspiration?
So back in January of 2018, a song came to me one night. I have been a musician chasing a dream of writing a hit song about my ex for many years prior and had no luck with those songs. I never wanted to write a serious song unless it came to me.
The inspiration for the song is based on my cousin Anthony’s ability to inspire everyone in their family. He was diagnosed with Autism at about two and a half.
I didn’t set out to write a song like this unless the lyrics came to me. One night on my commute home, on the train, a melody began to come into my head. I then quickly grabbed my guitar when I got home and started to write out the progression I heard in my head.
2) Your Goddaughter sings the song with you, how did she get involved?
The next day, my Goddaughter happened to be back from school because there was a snowstorm in our area. Her brothers’ school had not yet been dismissed, and I told her about the song that came to me and if she wanted to help me write it for him. She had been just starting to sing and play the guitar. She was seven at the time! So, she said yes. Twenty-five minutes later, we had a song. I wrote the second verse of the song and helped her tighten up the first verse that she had written.
Her father then also assisted with reminding us how Anthony communicates through other things when he can’t always say what he needs. Then the chorus was done.
3) How did Facebook make a difference in your song going viral?
Once we went over it two times, I wanted to record it to have it on my phone. So, I flipped it around and recorded the raw take. It was so natural and felt so good. I posted it to my Facebook account that night.
Little did I know that it would be shared by every autism organization within the next two weeks and countless pages on Facebook like the Power of Positivity to their millions of followers.
4) You’ve received over 1 million views, how fast did that happen?
We hit a million views in less than a week! It still blows me away that our song has made this type of impact on people. While we all hope what we do resonates with people, but I never could have imagined our raw version of would be share so quickly!
5) People started requesting the produced copy, what happened next?
We didn’t have it yet, but I realized how important this was to us. It was resonating with so many around the world. So, I had to find a way to record it in a studio. A good friend of mine funded the project and introduced me to his friend, who happened to be a Grammy-nominated producer in NYC.
So, there we were, two “kids” from Jersey recording what would be an autism anthem in the making. We then shot a produced video to go along with it and released it on World Autism Awareness Day that April.
6) You’ve now released a new song about Autism, tell us more:
While the first version was still viral, we were afraid people would be expecting the same song. But our producer insisted that we needed to bring it up a level and he was right.
After we posted produced that version, it went viral as well. It took us to a Broadway stage that June for an Autism Speaks event where a Broadway Band and singers backed us at the Gershwin Theater.
The song during April was also on Sirius XM’s Kids Place Live and streamed on iHeart Radios kids stations online. The song has been shared in Australia, London, Spain, India, and countless other countries.
It’s still being streamed everywhere on Apple Music. To date, both versions are up to over 7.5 million views, and it just recently went viral in January again. The song truly has a life of its own.
7) Wow! That sounds like a lot! How has it been since then?
It was! A lot to handle in a short period. I still play the song when I have a chance to play at benefits. I played it at a significant event in NJ in January, and people stopped talking and listened. It wasn’t an Autism related event, and yet they still stopped and listened.
The song was also made into a dance by a school in Boston. She had a girl who was autistic in it. They won a bunch of competitions for the song, which was awesome!
8) That’s Amazing! What are your hopes going forward?
A lot of people still tell me that Ellen has to have you on the show. But they don’t realize that there are so many stories ahead of ours that come first.
Eventually, I hope that this song gets in a Disney movie or a movie that has a lead character who is autistic.
For whatever reason, even two years later, it is still resonating whenever some social media page shares it. There are still a lot of people in the world who are seeing it for the first time. Bruce Springsteen is my hero, and he said something along the lines of good songs never dies.
9) What do you want readers & listeners to know?
I think the important message about the song is we wrote it for a loved one in our family, but as we were writing it, we had no clue we were writing words that so many others were wanting to say but couldn’t.
I don’t think I could have done it without my Goddaughter’s help. She put some pretty meaningful lyrics down, coming from a then 7-year-old
Unstoppable, a song for Autism
Wow! What an interview! There is so much that to take away not only from their song but their story. Here are three of my top takeaways:
One of the biggest takeaways from how far autism acceptance has come. For a song that was shared in raw format to hit a million views in just a week, that is real autism awareness. For it to continue resonated with listeners two years later, that shows that the desire for autism acceptance exists
Tommy & Isabella’s story is just how important authenticity is in this fast-paced world. It shows that the purity of a child’s word can make an impact. The dedication of a family to help their autistic child thrive, can not only help their child but inspire others.
It doesn’t take someone with a vast influence or celebrity status to make an impact in our world. No matter where you are in life, you can be an autism advocate. Using your gifts, no matter how small you feel they are, to share autism acceptance will make a huge impact.
How has this song impacted you, what is your take away? Make sure to share in our comments & on our social posts!
Let’s Make an Impact Together!
Isabella and Tommy are so thankful to everyone who has downloaded the song and shared the video so far. If this story inspired you, we need you to watch the video and share it everywhere you can!
Make sure to share this blog post as well so we can get as much coverage for Unstoppable, a song for Autism as we can. If you want to see this story on Ellen, make sure to tag @ellentv. Check out the video here on Facebook.