If you haven’t heard about Iris Grace yet, I’m here to tell you about her now.
I’ve been following Iris’ adventures on her Facebook page for over two years and her world never fails to astound me.
Iris Grace Halmshaw is a six year old living in Britain who has Autism. She struggles with words and social interactions but what she expresses through her paintings is something truly magnificent. Initially, painting just started out as another form of therapy for Iris, a way to relax her, but the way she painted with skill well beyond her years even surprised her parents.
Iris’ parents shared her paintings and her story to spread awareness for Autism – and it went global. Iris’ paintings weren’t the only reason her story went viral however, because in 2014 after cat-sitting a cat and seeing Iris’ positive reaction towards it, her parents decided to get her a friend…and so Iris met Thula (pronounced Too-la).
Thula is a Maine Coon cat, which is a breed known for their intelligence and loving nature. Iris took to Thula immediately, and they started doing everything together. Napping, playing, biking, painting – Thula even played in the bath with Iris!
The friendship between these two is so heart warming and beautiful. It really shows the deeply therapeutic effect animals can have on humans. Iris’ mother Arabella is a photographer, so naturally she takes amazing shots of Iris and Thula together.
Iris’ parents went to a lot of trouble to find a school that might be suitable for Iris’ needs but after no luck, they decided to home-school her for the moment.
Arabella also started an Autism friendly home based activity group called The Little Explorer’s Club, which runs every Saturday with all sorts of fun activities for the kids like music workshops, animals encounters, cooking and much more.
When I was in primary school, there was a boy with Autism in my class who had a tutor that would help him every day. A few years later I met him by chance on the public bus, and not only did he remember me, he told me that he had a job and could travel on his own now. His family and his workplace would call his cell phone and check up on him occasionally, but it was so cool to see him like that, so independent.
Everyone deserves a chance to be something great.
I love seeing Iris and Thula pop up on my Facebook newsfeed and it’s astounding how much progress Iris has made with her words and the ways she handles social situations over the past few years. If you’re curious about Iris and Thula’s ongoing adventures too, I suggest you like her Facebook page.
I wish Iris all the best with her bright future!