Society

Autistic Three-Year-Old Sells Paintings for Thousands

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Iris Halmshaw, a 3-year-old girl with autism, has become an abstract and impressionistic painter who has sold two pieces for £1,500 each.

She already has a solo exhibition in London and an auction planned in the coming months.

While other activities seem to stress her out, painting is one of the only things she can do to find tranquility.

She can't speak, other children and noises distress her and unpredictability causes her to have fear.

"When Iris was diagnosed with autism, the key was to find something she loved to do," her mother Arabella Carter-Johnson said. "I'd taken her to a playgroup, but it had been disastrous."

"There was one particularly noisy toy train that made her very distressed. She'd have a meltdown, an uncontrolled tantrum, any time a child played with it."

"She'd bite into the plastic spoon she always carries in her left hand until her head shook. She'd cling to me like a limpet, throw her body towards the door and hit me if we didn't leave."

"At home, she became withdrawn. She would bite her lip until it bled."

Now, Iris has a calmer life, as her mother created a play-school at home.

"The whole place became a fun house. We got a range of sensory toys, which Iris loved. 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."

It was then that Iris developed an interest in painting. 

"One day I drew some stick men and Iris found them really funny. My mum bought an easel and we got the paint out. Iris made one brush stroke and the paint dribbled down to the bottom of the page. She was furious and burst into tears," Arabella said. 

"But I figured out the problem: it wasn't the paint, it was the fact she couldn't control it. So I put a sheet of paper on a table instead of the easel and straightaway she filled the whole page. She seemed to know intuitively what to do."

Now, Iris is happier than ever. She paints for hours, and when she does it, she stands back and looks at what she has so far to consider her next move.

"She'd readily paint for five hours a day. But I have to persuade her to practice other things as well, such as puzzles or doing buttons," her mother said. 

And other things have improved since she started painting.

"Since she started to paint, her mood has lifted; her communication has improved; she is saying more and more words and she has started to enjoy making eye contact," Arabella said. 

Sources: Daily Mail, Iris Grace Painting