Iris grace Holmshaw (Iris Grace Halmshaw) from the English county of Leicestershire in his six and a little already known as an artist. She began to surprise the art community at the age of three. No one taught Iris to draw, but the cat Fula taught her to speak, swim and smile.
Autism is a neurological disorder that impairs a person’s ability to participate in social interactions. Its causes are not fully known, and it manifests itself very early – up to three years. That’s how much Iris was when the doctors, after conducting many tests, delivered a verdict: you should not hope for progress. The girl will never learn to speak and in general to communicate with other people in any way.
The situation was indeed very difficult. Iris didn’t let anyone in except her mother, Arabella Carter-Johnson, not her grandparents, not even her father, who eventually had to leave home and participate in the girl’s life from a distance.
“The daughter could not look anyone in the eye, did not play with toys, slept anywhere but not in her bed, had a bunch of obsessive habits, was afraid of water to the point of nervous colic and flatly refused to wash, and sometimes dress,” lists Arabella. “As the psychologists explained, the unpredictability and chaos of the world around her fills her with fear and panic.”
All attempts to change something went ashes – hippotherapy, play therapy, a nightmarish experience in a group for special children. But one day, while studying with her daughter, Arabella drew a little man – “arms, legs, cucumber.” Iris loved this. She tried to draw herself – and was completely delighted with the process. Mom was delighted that the girl was pleased with at least something. Literally the next day, she organized a home studio – she bought paints, set up a table, unfolded a sheet of paper … Iris sat down at the table with pleasure, dipped the brush in blue and covered the entire space of the sheet with some intricate strokes, stripes and droplets.
Arabella praised the drawing, and when it dried, she invited her daughter to return to it – for example, with purple paint. She agreed. Only the paint she chose herself: yellow. And then she asked for whitewash, which turned into sea foam on the sheet, and the first children’s experience of drawing – a magical impressionistic landscape.
Arabella called the first picture of her daughter “Patience” – “Patience”
Iris posted the picture on the Internet, and a few days later a visitor to her page asked to sell the picture – she was struck by the girl’s extraordinary sense of color. Arabella was struck by something else: it turns out that the picture seems beautiful not only to the preconceived motherly look.
“Then we realized that she is actually very talented and she has an incredible ability to concentrate for her age – she can draw for two hours without interruption. Her autism has created a style of painting that I have never seen in children her age, she has an understanding of color and how different colors interact with each other.”
Arabella continued to post pictures on social networks, and after some time she received a call from a former classmate who is engaged in the art business. She said that she was organizing an exhibition of emerging artists in London, could Arabella provide some paintings of Iris for the exhibition.
“But she’s just a sick child,” my mother objected. “She is an incredibly talented artist,” a classmate snapped, “I thought you knew.”
At the exhibition, Iris’s work made a splash. After the exposition, a charity auction was held, at which a photocopy of “Patience” went for 830 pounds.
Now Arabella practically does not sell the original works of her daughter – she keeps them for exhibitions, but from time to time they still replenish private collections. One of the paintings was bought, for example, by Angelina Jolie.
Miss Iris Grace Holmshaw’s originals cost £1500, prints £200-300, postcard sets £40-50.
The second miracle happened when the cat Fula entered the house of Arabella and Iris.
Arabella was advised to buy a cat by readers of her blog – fans of the girl’s talent. Animals can do wonders when it comes to autism. Hippotherapy Iris did not fit, so you need to try feline therapy. The choice fell on the Maine Coon breed – the largest domestic cat in the world.
What happened next was beyond my wildest dreams.
“They met like old friends,” Arabella recalls. There was a strange feeling that the cat and the girl had known each other for a long time. The kitten did not leave her daughter a single step, and at night he settled on her pillow, like a guardian angel.
The cat sleeps with the girl, eats with the girl, rides with the family on a boat and on a bicycle. The cat is like an extension of the girl, her connection with the outside world.
It was Fula who saved the girl from her fear of water. Cats are known to be afraid of water, but Iris was more afraid of her – bath days turned into a nightmare.
One day, shortly after the kitten arrived at the house, Arabella filled the tub with water, anticipating the usual protests, tears, and screams. Fula followed Iris into the bathroom, immediately assessed the situation, and jumped into the tub as if inviting the girl to follow her lead. It was the first calm wash in the life of Iris.
Iris’ first words were also said to Fula: “Cat, sit down.” Everyone in the room was literally dumbfounded – it was a real miracle. And even though the girl said her first words only at five, according to experts, this could never happen.
This story is not about patience and heroic overcoming of difficulties – it is about love and happiness. Happiness is an amazing phenomenon, it depends much less on external circumstances than is commonly believed. Here is one entry from Arabella’s diary:
“On Friday night, I decided to take a bubble bath. As soon as I relaxed, Iris plopped down next to me. She looked slyly at me, scooped up foam with her palms, blew bubbles and laughed. It was a little crowded, I felt that it seemed that it would not be possible to relax … And then Fula decided to join us. Perhaps someone in my place would complain about the “lack of personal space” or the inability to be alone, but not me.
I think the parents of children with autism will perfectly understand what I felt at that moment, and what is the reason for my patience.
The whole secret is, there is no patience: I’m just happy, very, very happy!
I am happy that Iris wants to be with me, that she looks into my eyes, smiles and laughs. I am happy when I clean up after creating her next masterpiece in a paint-stained house. I am happy because in this way she explores the world around her, and does not sit in her own. Because we – along with the cat Fula – found the key to the tightly locked door through which my daughter goes outside.