Non-verbal and diagnosed with autism, 3-year-old Iris Grace Halmshaw of Market Horborough, England, has learned to express her emotions through painting. Iris Grace exhibits social dissociation, struggling to interact with others and making poor eye contact. But when painting, she is fully concentrated and focused. Her parents had tried other therapies to help her find something she is passionate about, but to no avail. Social groups also made Iris Grace anxious, and she would tend to have tantrums and meltdowns. Her mother, Arabella Carter-Johnson, said they even turned their home in a play house for their daughter,
“We put a paddling pool in my home office and filled it with plastic balls and installed a trampoline in the sitting room. Play, fun and laughter were the goal, and I wanted to teach Iris to interact with me, instead of being immersed entirely in her own world.”[i]
Eventually, the 3-year-old started painting. Her mother, comments,
“Her autism has created a style of painting which I have never seen in a child of her age. She has an understanding of colors and how they interact with each other. She beams with excitement and joy when I get out the paints, it lifts her mood every time.”
Iris Grace’s painting is therapeutic for her, and copies of her work are being sold for hundreds of dollars. The original paintings are going on display in November for auction, and the profits will go to Iris Grace’s therapy.
Art therapy is an effective technique used for children with autism spectrum disorders. Here at Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices, we have individual and group art therapy classes. The students have the opportunity to express their emotions through their work, while working on their fine motor skills as well.
[i] “Mail Online” The miracle of Little Miss Masterpiece: Astonishing talent of autistic Iris, three, whose paintings have stunned the world. 30 Jun 2013. Web. < http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2352055/Iris-Halmshaw-Astonishing-talent-girl-3-paintings-stunned-art-world.html>
[ii] “Huffington Post” Iris Halmshaw, 3-year-old with autism, can’t talk; But her beautiful painting sell for hundreds.03 Jul 2013. Web. < http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/01/iris-halmshaw-paintings-autistic-thousands_n_3530466.html?view=screen>