Autistic nonspeaking three-year old amazes all with her incredible art

By Debra Muzikar

“Iris beams with excitement and joy when I get out the paints.”
Arabella Carter-Johhnson, Iris Grace’s mom.

Iris points at her paint brush on the sink in the kitchen. This is how Arabella, Iris’ mom, knows that Iris wants to paint. Arabella takes out the paint bottles. The right color isn’t there. Iris looks around the kitchen and points at a purple vase.

Iris Grace Sunny Day
Iris Grace Sunny Day

“Purple,” Arabella says wanting her daughter to repeat the word “Purple.”

“Puh,” Iris says.

Well done, Beanie,” her mom says using Iris’ nickname.

Arabella mixes the red and blue creating the purple. She hands the paint in a cup to Iris. It’s not the right consistency. Iris brings the cup back to her mom.

“More water?” Arabella asks.

Iris nods her head.

“Can you say water?”

Iris shakes her head but gives good eye contact.

“Good looking,” Arabella affirms.

Now the paint is just right. Iris takes out the brush, dips it in the paint and flicks the paint onto the paper that has been set up at a low table to accommodate the three-year old’s painting whims.

Arabella has taken out a wide range of rollers, stamps, brushes and sponges at hand for Iris to create her masterpieces. Iris continues to dab, flick, and dot the paper using the tools her mom has provided.

Iris sometimes does a little jig when her painting is complete letting her mom know that she is pleased with her painting.

An adorable nonverbal three-year old from the U.K., Iris has been painting for less than six months yet has assembled an incredible portfolio of over 36 Monet-like pieces of art. Art collectors have taken notice some purchasing her art for over $1,000.

Arabella, a photographer, initially used the art to help Iris with language acquisition, joint attention and turn-taking. She was surprised to see that her daughter could fix her attention on her painting for two hours at a time. The painting has become a daily ritual.

Besides painting, Iris loves dancing on her tip-toes like a ballerina. She receives equine therapy, floor-time, and occupational therapy. With the expert help of many therapists Arabella says Iris has changed dramatically in a short span of time.

She now rides on her mom’s back all giggles and squeals of delight, much like any three-year old.

Arabella says, “She communicates through her own language of signs and her art.”

Iris’ parents are planning a solo exhibition for Iris in November in central London and are working closely with The National Autistic Society and The Autism Research Centre in Cambridge. They are looking for a sponsor. If interested, please email them at

For more information about Iris visit her website.

One reply on “Autistic nonspeaking three-year old amazes all with her incredible art”
  1. says: lauren

    AS an ART therapist working with children just like your daughter,
    I am inspired. WOW! amazing beautiful work. I especially love how the two
    of you interact with one another. -Lauren ROsenthal

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