Thula the Cat Helps 5-Year-Old Artist Iris Grace with Autism Express Herself [Gallery]

Iris Grace, the five-year-old artist with autism, created amazingly beautiful paintings with her fluffy friend Thula the cat.

  • The five-year-old artist was diagnosed with autism at the age of two and is mostly nonverbal because of her condition. Photo: Arabella Carter-Johnson.The five-year-old artist was diagnosed with autism at the age of two and is mostly nonverbal because of her condition. Photo: Arabella Carter-Johnson.
  • Thula the cat became member of the family in February, and since then a remarkable effect on Iris become more tactile and affectionate. Photo: Arabella Carter-Johnson.Thula the cat became member of the family in February, and since then a remarkable effect on Iris become more tactile and affectionate. Photo: Arabella Carter-Johnson.
  • Iris has also started using more words to give instructions to Thula. Photo: Arabella Carter-Johnson.Iris has also started using more words to give instructions to Thula. Photo: Arabella Carter-Johnson.
  • The five-year-old girl is playing with her violin and Thula as a devoted fan looks on. Photo: Arabella Carter-Johnson.The five-year-old girl is playing with her violin and Thula as a devoted fan looks on. Photo: Arabella Carter-Johnson.
  • The inseparable friends are together everywhere, even enjoying outdoor - watching trees, flowers, birds and clouds. Photo: Arabella Carter-Johnson.The inseparable friends are together everywhere, even enjoying outdoor - watching trees, flowers, birds and clouds. Photo: Arabella Carter-Johnson.
  • The painting titled “Raining Cats” created by Iris. Photo: Arabella Carter-Johnson.The painting titled “Raining Cats” created by Iris. Photo: Arabella Carter-Johnson.
  • Iris’ paintings fund her private therapists, cover the costs of her art supplies and also help fund the Little Explorers Activity Club, a club for autistic children run out of the Halmshaw home. Photo: Arabella Carter-Johnson.Iris’ paintings fund her private therapists, cover the costs of her art supplies and also help fund the Little Explorers Activity Club, a club for autistic children run out of the Halmshaw home. Photo: Arabella Carter-Johnson.

Meet 5-year-old Iris Grace – beautiful and talented artist, who was diagnosed with autism in 2011. Because of the condition, Iris cannot communicate with many kids of her age and is frequently thrown into panic by the world around her.

Nevertheless, Iris managed not only to find her passion in painting, but also a cute and fluffy friend – Thula the cat, who joined her family just before Valentine’s Day this year and changed Iris’ life.

The pair are now inseparable – and Iris’s parents credit the gentle Maine Coon with helping their little girl become more tactile and affectionate, as well as influencing her already much-acclaimed works of art.

“She has been at Iris’s side since she arrived and slept in her arms during her first night here,” Iris’ mother, Arabella Carter-Johnson, wrote on their website. “It seemed like they were old friends as I watched them on the sofa, the kitten attentively looking at the iPad screen with Iris.”

“Thula’s constant presence and gentle nature is having a remarkable effect upon Iris who is nonverbal most of the time,” Carter-Johnson continued to write.

“I am hearing more words. Iris is giving instructions to Thula … Iris says it with such authority that the kitten obediently sits down with her striped legs neatly together. Unlike most children of Iris’ age, she doesn’t maul, stroke or pick up the kitten constantly. Their relationship is based upon companionship.”

Girl’s parents say Iris, whose impressionistic work is often compared to the paintings of French Impressionist master Claude Monet, draws much of her inspiration from the long hours she spends sitting outdoors, gazing at the beauty of nature.

“She has a fantastic concentration span but as her parent and educator I have to keep an eye on that and help her move onto other things,” said her mom, Arabella Carter-Johnson. “I can see nature in her paintings, water, trees, flowers, and also we can see Thula her cat in many of them.”

The little artist, who lives with her family in Leicestershire, began painting last year, and has been praised by buyers, collectors and galleries for her incredible work. Celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher have shared Iris’s work on social media, while three-time BAFTA award winner Olivia Colman showed her support by reading a poem for a video about Iris.

Iris’ works fund her private therapists, cover the costs of her art supplies and also help fund the Little Explorers Activity Club, a club for autistic children run out of the Halmshaw home.

“Thula has lowered her daily anxieties in life and keeps Iris calm,” says the artist’s mom. “But equally has the effect of encouraging her to be more social. She will talk more to Thula, saying little phrases like ‘sit cat.’”

Girl’s mom adds: “Iris has been through a stage over the last year of hating baths and having her hair washed. Thula has been getting in the bath tub with Iris and even letting me shampoo her as well to help Iris.”

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