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Iris Grace of Leicestershire, U.K. was diagnosed with autism in 2011, a neurodevelopment condition known for impairing social interaction. While most diagnosed with autism are capable of completing most normal tasks and chores, they may become withdrawn or indifferent to social engagement.
Iris was first introduced to painting as part of her speech therapy. At the time, Iris had never spoken a word. As her parents, Arabella Carter-Johnson and Peter-Jon Halmshaw, encouraged Iris to paint to help her concentrate, they were astounded to witness an incredible talent and style that they "never seen in a child of her age."
While Iris' method of painting is unique, she is a consummate artist, her artworks taking weeks and months before completion. Many commenters liken her paintings to those of Monet and other impressionists.
Back in 2013, Iris became the subject of national headlines when her parents shared her artwork with the world as a means to raise awareness of her condition and to inspire other parents of autistic children. Since then, and after much intensive therapy, Iris has finally begun to speak.
"Eye contact was a rare occurrence, she didn't want to or know how to play with us, showed obsessive behaviors, got desperately distressed when we took her near any other children and her sleep patterns were all over the place," wrote Iris' mother, Arabella.
Through her painting therapy, Iris has developed an incredible concentration span of about two hours each time she paints, and vastly improved her social skills.
"She now rides on my back in fits of laughter, squealing with delight, plays, communicates by creating her own signs, a few small words and her sleeping is much better," wrote Arabella.
Iris' paintings have sold to private art collectors in the U.K. and throughout Europe, the U.S., South America and Asia. Her Facebook page has over 85,000 likes and continues to be an inspiration.
Iris' original paintings are sold at auction, and gifts items of her paintings are available online. All profits made from these sales go on to fund Iris' art materials and her private therapists.
"We still have a long way to go with her social skills and speech, but we are having many more 'good days,'" wrote Arabella.
A short film, "A Portrait of an Artist," dedicated to Iris.
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Autism affects around 100,000 children in the U.K., and 1 in 68 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of autism diagnoses has increased 123% between 2002 and 2012.