This is the story of an extraordinary girl so lost in her own world, the mother who would move mountains for her, and the cat who saved their family.
For children, it’s normal to get lost in their own world during playtime. But for 8-year-old Iris Grace Halmshaw, getting lost in her own world is a near constant and everyday reality. At two years old in 2011, Iris was diagnosed with severe autism. Doctors told her parents that she may never be able to talk, never be able to live independently in the future, never form and maintain relationships like children her own age.
Despite the grim prognosis, mom Arabella refused to get stuck on negativity. As much as she wanted to prove the doctors wrong, she also vowed to do whatever she can to provide a happy, safe, and easy life for Iris, and give her all the love she needs. Everyday was a struggle, especially when dealing with Iris’s anxieties like her fear of bath time and swimming, and erratic sleeping problems. Arabella and PJ, Iris’s dad, tried every therapy they can like equine and dog therapy, but they didn’t work.
Then they tried cat therapy with a water-loving Maine Coon cat breed and got Thula. The moment Thula and Iris met, it was like a meeting of soul sisters. According to mom Arabella, it was an instant bond. Thula unlocked something in Iris and was able to draw her out in a way they never could. They do everything together–play time, art time, naps, walks, bike rides, even bath time and swimming. The growth and changes Iris has gone through since Thula came into her life is nothing short of a miracle.
Watch how Thula the supercat worked wonders on an autistic child:
Check out Iris Grace’s story on Amazon, written by her mom, Arabella.