“From a photograph you wouldn’t think that anything was different but there is, Iris is Autistic. She is now starting to speak but that doesn’t come easily to her and she has great trouble with interacting with others but expresses herself through movement and art. Since she was diagnosed in December 2011 we were able to learn about how we could help our daughter. With the expert help of many therapists she changed dramatically in just a short space of time. She used to be consumed by books, eye contact was a rare occurrence, she didn’t want to or know how to play with us, showed obsessive behaviours, got desperately distressed when we took her near any other children and her sleep patterns were all over the place. 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. We still have a long way to go with her social skills and speech, but we are having many more ‘good days’ and one of her favourite activities is Painting.
We have been encouraging Iris to paint to help with speech therapy, joint attention and turn taking. Then we realised that she is actually really talented and has an incredible concentration span of around 2 hours each time she paints. I make up some cups of very watery paints, she chooses which one she would like to use and gets me to make more when she needs it and she mixes her own colours from mug to mug. Her autism has created a style of painting which I have never seen in a child of her age, she has an understanding of colours and how they interact with each other. She beams with excitement and joy when I get out the paints, it lifts her mood everytime. She has found a way of expressing herself that is so beautiful, so we wanted to share it and thereby raise awareness of her condition, which is currently affecting around 100,000 children in the UK and these numbers are rising.”