"Iris' story, as told and photographed by her mother, beautifully deciphers the way a child with autism sees and approaches the world . . . Compelling reading" (Booklist, starred review). Iris Grace is a beautiful little girl who, from a very young age, barely communicated, avoided social interaction with other people, and rarely smiled. Both before her diagnosis of autism and after, she seemed trapped in her own world, unable to connect with those around her. One day, her mother brought home a Maine Coon kitten for Iris, even though cats aren't typically thought of as therapy pets. Thula, named after one of Iris's favorite African lullabies and meaning "peace" in Zulu, immediately bonded with Iris. Thula knew right away how to assuage Iris when she became overstimulated; when to intervene when Iris became overwhelmed; and how to provide distraction when Iris started heading toward a meltdown. Whether exploring, playing, sleeping, or taking a bath with Iris or accompanying the family on a bike ride, Thula became so much more than a therapy cat. With Thula's safe companionship, Iris began to talk and interact with her family. This heartwarming story is illustrated with both the author's photographs and sixty of Iris's gorgeous impressionistic paintings, works of art that have allowed her to express herself since the age of three. A gifted artist, Iris sees the natural world in a profoundly vivid and visceral way. With Thula by her side, she'll sit and paint for hours, and the results are stunning. Inspiring and touching, Iris Grace follows the struggles and triumphs of a family—and a miracle cat—as they learn to connect with an amazing child.