Iris Halmshaw was born in the UK on September 2009 and diagnosed with autism in December 2011. Although she doesn't speak and is frightened of strangers and hates being near children her own age, she paints pictures so pretty, people want to buy them.
She's very sensitive to noise and throws a tantrum and hits her mother when things don't go her way. She carries a pink plastic spoon in her left hand at all times and bites into it so hard when she's stressed, her head shakes.
As Iris grew older her parents, Arabella and Peter-Jon Halmshaw knew their only child was different. She didn't respond when they called her name and they wondered if she could be deaf. They also noticed that she didn't show any affection to the other three people who were constantly in her life - her father and grandparents - only her mother.
Iris has an uncanny visual memory - when she enters a room, she knows immediately if any object has been moved and if it has, she screams in terror. As she grew older and still wasn't making eye contact, her parents knew that something was wrong and when she was two years and three months old, she was diagnosed with autism. The doctor told them to try everything, as long as it was safe for their child, and that's what they did.
One day Iris' grandmother bought an easel and they introduced her to paint. When she placed one brush stroke onto the paper and saw it dribble down to the bottom of the page, she screamed and burst into tears. Her mother guessed what the problem was and put the paper flat on a table and she immediately filled the whole page with paint. Since then, she's never looked back and would spend all day painting if her mother would let her, but she needs to learn other important things, like how to do up buttons.
Iris doesn't like to wear clothes and it's a struggle for her mother to get her into leggings, but she refuses to wear a shirt when she
There are 100,000 children in the UK with autism and Iris is one of the lucky ones - her parents can afford the therapy she receives three times a week. They decided to sell Iris' prints of her paintings and keep the originals for an exhibition in November, the proceeds of which will go towards her private therapists. So far the family have sold quite a few prints which are listed on their website http://irisgracepainting.com/ from around $60 up to $450 each.
Iris' mother is delighted with her progress. "Since she started to paint, her mood has lifted, her communication has improved, she is saying more words and has started to enjoy making eye contact."
It's amazing how many autistic children possess a creative gift that has a calming effect on their mood, some find it in music, but others like Iris find peace through the art of painting.