Iris Grace Halmshaw is only 6 years old, but she's already known as a world-renowned artist with A-list stars like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt snapping up her work. Many people don't realize however, that she's had a tiny little friend helping her along the way.
Iris Grace's mother, Arabella Carter-Johnson, says that when her daughter was 2 years old she was struggling with difficult behavioral issues.
"Eye contact was a rare occurrence, she didn't want to or know how to play with us, showed obsessive behavior, got desperately distressed when we took her near any other children and her sleep patterns were all over the place," she wrote on her website.
All of that changed when the little girl was diagnosed with autism in 2011. With the help of therapists, the family discovered that Iris Grace was able to express herself beautifully through art. Further research prompted her mom to purchase a therapy pet for her daughter.
As soon as Iris Grace met Thula the cat, they had an instant connection. The long-haired Maine Coon is friendly, gentle and even loves to swim!
See more of Iris Grace and Thula the therapy cat:
Thula the cat and Iris Grace
Little girl's incredible bond with her therapy cat will melt your heart
Thula enjoying being in the garden this morning #Irisgrace #Thula #Mainecoon #Cat
Thula enjoying looking at the Iris Grace book, best painting of course is 'Raining Cats' :-) #Irisgracebook #Thula #Irisgrace #iris #ArabellaCarterJohnson #painting
It's been an amazing week, our book has arrived ! To pre order your copy please press the link on our profile. Thankyou. #Irisgrace #Thula #Irisgracebook #ArabellaCarterJohnson
Thula in the kitchen #Irisgrace #Cat #Mainecoon #Thula
Thula watching the paint move on the Yupo paper #Thula #Irisgrace #IrisandThula #Mainecoon #Cat #painting
Iris and Thula playing with the Polar themed sensory tray with ice, snow, water, polar animals and vocab cards #IrisGracePainting #Irisgrace #snow #Thula #Mainecoon
Thula in the snow #Irisgrace #iris #Thula #Mainecoon #IrisGracePainting
Playing with bubbles at the sink in the kitchen #IrisandThula #Mainecoon #Thula #IrisGrace
Iris and Thula playing in the sand pool #differentisbrilliant #IrisGrace #Mainecoon #Cat #Iris #Thula
Christmas with Thula #cat #mainecoon #christmas #IrisGrace
A portrait of Thula #Thula #mainecoon #cat #tree #climbing #IrisGrace
Thula out in the wild #cat #Thula #IrisGrace #mainecoon #Walk #climbingtrees
Thula checking out the rainforest stamps #Thula #Iris #IrisGrace #rainforest #stamps #homeeducation #homeed #cat #mainecoon
Iris and Thula enjoying their new story book apps #IrisGrace #Iris #Thula #cat #maincoon #ipad #IrisGracePainting
Thula playing hide and seek with Iris in the garden room #Thula #cat #mainecoon #therapycat #irisGrace
Thula in the bath with Iris #Thula #cat #therapycat #bath#catinwater #mainecoon #IrisGrace
Relaxing on the boat #IrisGracePainting #Thula #cat #Mainecoon #water #nature #boat #relax #therapy #canal #IrisGrace
Thula sitting in the boat on our trip down the leicestershire canals #Thula #mainecoon #cat #IrisGrace #IrisGracePainting #cats #water #boat
Iris, Thula and Tree Stump #IrisGrace #Iris #IrisGracePainting #IrisHalmshaw #cat #mainecoon
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Her mother told CNN that Iris Grace used to hate things touching her skin, like clothing or water. But as soon as Thula arrived, the water-loving feline would take baths with her and helped make her more comfortable in difficult situations.
With Thula by her side, Iris Grace will continue to create more of her incredible works of art and help raise awareness about autism.
Related: Take a peek at these adorable therapy animals:
Therapy and emotional support animals
Little girl's incredible bond with her therapy cat will melt your heart
Prisoners participate in the therapy with dogs program in the prison of Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, Ecuador, on October 21, 2014. The Social Rehabilitation Center of Santo Domingo employs nine trained dogs as therapy to reduce the prisoners stress and agressiveness levels. AFP PHOTO/RODRIGO BUENDIA (Photo credit should read RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 06: Mogli lifts a paw to touch the palm of his owner Eva Kullmann as facility residents, who both suffer from dementia, look on during the cat's weekly visit at the Lutherstift senior care facility on August 6, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Mrs. Kullmann says the weekly visits are vital therapy and spark the curiosity, communication and delight of the facility residents. Friday, August 8, is World Cat Day. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 30: Denver International Airport introduced the dogs in it's new Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS) program in the Jeppesen Terminal on Thursday, October 29, 2015. Maddison Tischler, a consultant working at the airport, goes face to face to greet therapy dog 'Nelson' a Newfoundland. 17 of the 28 dogs were on hand to meet and greet travelers and employees offering a little stress relief. They will roam the concourses mingling with travelers. (Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
LAKEWOOD, CO - FEBRUARY 19: Nickolas McCauley, 7, pets a cat as he looks out the window during a therapy session at Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Colorado in Lakewood, Colorado on February 19, 2015. Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Colorado is a non-profit that offers therapy with a variety of animals including dogs, rats, rabbits, horses and goats. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 24 - Margo Mackay and her flat coated retriever 'Demi', June 24, 2015. Therapy dogs will be roaming the Pan Am village helping stressed athletes. (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
LAKEWOOD, CO - FEBRUARY 19: Nickolas McCauley, 7, gets puppy kisses from Saoirse during a therapy session at Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Colorado in Lakewood, Colorado on February 19, 2015. Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Colorado is a non-profit that offers therapy with a variety of animals including dogs, rats, rabbits, horses and goats. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 03: A therapy dog named Toby reacts as he is pet by a traveler inside Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport on December 3, 2013 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco SPCA and San Francisco International Airport joined forces to launch a new program called 'Wag Brigade' that will have a team of certified therapy dogs that will patrol the airport's to help calm stressed travelers during the busy holiday travel season. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MONUMENT, CO - JUNE 15: Black Forest fire evacuee, Ashlee Erick, 11, hugs therapy dog, Doophous at the front doors of Palmer Ridge High School after a community meeting Saturday morning, June 15, 2013. Erick's family home was destroyed in the fire. The Black Forest fire is 45% contained, but has claimed two lives and over 450 homes. (Photo By Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Reportage on a zootherapy psychologist practising in the Ile-de-France region of France. Zootherapy session for a 10-year old boy suffering from Asperger syndrome. The session involves educational exercises and time with the animal. (Photo by: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images)
Elease Travis, right, pets Woody the dog, owned by Ursula Dams, left, at an adult day care facility in Melrose Park, Illinois, on August 5, 20111. Woody serves as a therapy dog for the seniors at the facility. (Keri Wiginton/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)
Melanie Paul, who is deaf, and her pet therapy dogs, Molly, left, and Locksley visit hospital patients at Sentara Careplex in Hampton, Virginia, May 17, 2010. (Photo by Sangjib Min/Newport News Daily Press/MCT via Getty Images)
John Callahan, 82, gets a visit from Nika, the unofficial mascot and animal therapy dog at Bethesda Home and Retirement Center in Chicago, Illinois, March 30, 2010. (Photo by Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)
LAKEWOOD, CO - OCTOBER 07: Terminally ill patient Jackie Beattie, 83, touches a dove on October 7, 2009 while at the Hospice of Saint John in Lakewood, Colorado. The dove releases are part of an animal therapy program designed to increase happiness, decrease loneliness and calm terminally ill patients during the last stage of life. The non-profit hospice, which serves on average 200 people at a time, is the second oldest hospice in the United States. The hospice accepts patients regardless of their ability to pay, although most are covered by Medicare or Medicaid. End of life care has become a contentious issue in the current national debate on health care reform. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TOKYO - OCTOBER 30: Sick children are given therapy with dogs in the children's ward of St Luke's Hospital on October 30, 2008 in Tokyo, Japan. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall are in Japan as part of a ten day tour of East Asia that takes in Japan, Brunei and Indonesia. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 11: Max, 2, therapy dog visits the residents of The Hebrew Home at Riverdale at 5901 Palisade Avenue in the Bronx (Photo by Enid Alvarez/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
SMITHVILLE, NJ - UNDATED: Lucy with Great Dane dog in Smithville, New Jersey. At two and a half pounds, six inches long and just under six inches tall, Lucy is the smallest working dog in the world. Tiny pooch 'Lucy' has been named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's smallest working dog. The little Yorkshire terrier is just 5.7 inches high and weighs only two-and-a-half pounds. She was handed the certificate in recognition of her work as a therapy dog with the elderly and disabled. Age three and six inches long, Lucy works in a program called Leashes of Love and visits hospitals, nursing homes and special schools in Smithville, New Jersey. The title is awarded according to weight - meaning Lucy smashed the previous record held by a six pound search and rescue dog in Japan. Even though she weighs less then 12 sausages, she now has a huge status among working dogs around the world. She is owned by Sally Leone Montufar, 56, who put her forward for the record. PHOTOGRAPH BY HOWIE WILLIAMS/ Barcroft USA /Barcoft Media via Getty Images