Children with autism are too often pigeonholed and labeled for what they have difficulty doing, whether it be speaking or socializing at any age-appropriate level, which is why stories like Iris Grace's are so important to celebrate. This extraordinary artist, who paints like a Monet protégé with dreamy, gorgeous scenes that seem fit for an Impressionist exhibit, is only six years-old, but she has gained millions of admirers and sells her paintings to fans all over the world. Now readers can delve deeper into her family's journey in a new book by Arabella, Iris Grace's mother, entitled, Iris Grace: The Story of a Little Girl Whose Talent Unlocked her Silent World, which hits shelves today. Topics include non-verbal Iris's journey to grasp language, her beautiful paintings which speak louder than words, and her mother's insights on raising a child with autism. One of our favorite aspects of the story is how their beloved family therapy cat, a majestic Maine Coon named Thula, has helped Iris communicate with the world around her. Read on to see more of Iris's art and to see a video of her special bond with Thula.
Told in diary entries and photographs (Arabella is a professional photographer) and including some of Iris Grace’s moving and stunning paintings, the book focuses on how the family’s decision to bring home a cat was essential in opening up Iris Grace’s world. As soon as Thula joined the family, Iris Grace began bonding with the cat in previously unheard of ways. She rarely spoke or smiled or even acknowledged her parents’ presence when they entered a room before Thula’s arrival. Now Thula is Iris Grace’s constant companion as this talented little girl paints and learns and explores the world inside and out of the family’s home. Thula benefits as well from this arrangement and appears to relish her role in the family’s life as well as her sweet relationship with Iris Grace.
As evidenced by the video above, Thula is Iris Grace’s steadfast companion and an active participant in her human friend’s activities and multiple therapy sessions. While Iris Grace’s natural artistic talent is certainly unique, her loving bond with Thula that is captured in the book is easily understood and commonly cherished by animal lovers everywhere. Arabella, ever eager to incorporate unconventional learning opportunities into her daughter’s education, is hoping to turn the book process into a clever lesson: she’s asking those who buy the book around the world to leave a message and/or submit a picture of the book with their pet in order to teach Iris Grace about geography.