Following my daughter Iris has always been an adventure, her paintings have inspired people throughout the world allowing us to see beyond a diagnosis. We believe ‘Different is Brilliant’ raising positive awareness for Autism. It’s about following the lead of your child and building on strengths instead of focussing on the weaknesses. All was well until gradually I felt a shift in her, she wasn’t as engaged anymore, I was struggling to connect and her progression began to slow. She needed more and she wanted to explore, we were already home educating her and I realised that our classroom could be anywhere and the isolation I felt in the early days of her diagnosis had fallen away to a new beautiful world where anything was possible.

Iris’s love of nature is the foundation of her development, the inspiration for her paintings and where I have found she learns best. We are now embarking on a new adventure together, travelling to the Forests of the World. Each trip will be tailored to Iris’s interests and we will educate her during the journey as well as building on her self-care and life skills. She will learn in a real way that means something to her, that is flexible and free flowing. Following her interests in a constantly changing natural environment. I will document the process inspiring others, showing them the beauty in our world that needs to be protected for future generations.

The Forests of the World Project will be in aid of WWF, the world’s leading independent conservation organisation. Their mission is to create a world where people and wildlife can thrive together.

Our first trip was to Costa Rica as it is a fine example of how it can be possible to live in harmony with nature. A 4 week adventure that was inspiring, challenging and mind expanding. Proving to be beyond my wildest expectations but an adventure that pushed us all to our limits. Iris overcame many fears and quickly progressed in areas where she had struggled before. The transformation was wonderful to watch and reminded me that there are no limits to what you can achieve. I wanted to share some of our journey to celebrate our incredible planet that needs to be protected and of course how ‘Different is Brilliant’ with Iris Grace.

More info: irisgracepainting.com

This is the map of our 4 week road trip raising funds for the WWF

Started with adventures in the jungle

Iris exploring along the riverbanks

Learning about volcanoes

Spotting monkeys in the trees

And colorful frogs

Inspecting and learning about the beautiful nature that surrounded her

And noticing the delicate details

And all of the colours

Of the majestic rainforest

Protecting their wonders

Overcoming fears and gaining confidence

Once terrified of the sea out in Costa Rica all of that changed

Daily trips to the supermarket built on her life skills where she had previously struggled to manage

Making new friends along the way

Practicing communication with someone who won’t ever judge

Inspiring new interests in the natural world

Immersing herself in the forests

With all its colors

And textures