Iris Grace is an incredibly gifted 5-year-old artist; she paints simply fascinating images. Little Iris Grace is also autistic. Iris has a little furry companion named Thula, and Thula serves as her daily inspiration — not only for her artwork, but also for overcoming daily challenges. Thula is almost a year old. Her breed is a Maine Coon, and she seems like a perfect match for Iris. Thula’s kind are known for being intelligent gentle giants, and the two have once formed an unbreakable bond. But the search to find Thula was not easy. After so many disappointments, Iris’ mother, Arabella Carter-Johnson, almost gave up on finding an animal friend for her daughter. Everything changed when the family had to keep a cat for a close relative. Iris and the cat bonded, and Iris’ mother had a boost of hope. “It was not advisable to have a therapy animal, but when you do research on autism there are stories that come up from time to time about the wonderful effects animals can have on a child with autism. autism,” Arabella said.
“Then my brother’s girlfriend needed a place for their cat over the Christmas holidays and we offered to look after her while they were abroad. She was a beautiful Siberian and Iris immediately connected with her. “That’s when I realized I hadn’t found the right animal yet. So it took us a lot of time and a lot of trial and error to try different options, but we finally got there,” Arrabella said. Now Iris is thriving in her daily activities thanks to Thula. “Iris is more active in the morning now. Before Thula, it was always difficult to start the day. She is easier to engage in activities and there have been changes to our bike rides.”
“Thula has reduced Iris’ daily anxieties in life and kept Iris calm, but also has the effect of encouraging her to be more social. She’ll talk to Thula more, saying little phrases like “sitting cat,” Iris’ mother continued. “Whatever activity we do, Thula is there and wants to help and get involved. She offers Iris her company, her friendship and supports me by encouraging Iris to interact.
“Iris has gone through a stage in the past year where she hates baths and has her hair washed. Thula got into the tub with Iris and even let me wash off the shampoo for her to help Iris. “Thula is not a trained service or therapy cat, but I have done a few things. I got her used to wearing a harness when she was a kitten and riding bikes and cars. The rest she does on her own,” Arabella said.
It’s a wonderful thing to have a friend who will stick by your side. We are so grateful that God thought of his perfect timing in choosing Thula for Iris and Iris for Thula. It just goes to show that if we expect him, we will get the best from him.