We’re the Higgins family – your “typical” middle-class American family living in Greenwood, Indiana. Chris works for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) general offices in Indianapolis and Kelli is a stay-at-home mother. We have two children: Michaela, who is 8 years old, and Melanie, who is 4 years old. Our “first child” is Keena – a 9 year old golden retriever/collie mix.
Our adventure as parents began in the summer of 2006 when we welcomed our first child in the world: Michaela Marie Higgins was born on June 13 at 6:30pm via C-section. She was a beautiful baby with bright blue eyes – we could tell right away that she would be a spirited and lively child.
A wonderful description of Michaela today would be a child that truly loves life. She is always happy, enjoys other people and loves to socialize, is very (very) energetic and has a passion for her little sister.
In October of 2010, Michaela was diagnosed with autism. The therapists that evaluated her determined that she has autism spectrum disorder. Her diagnosing team described her particular diagnosis as “higher functioning,” which basically means that she is fully capable of doing everything that someone who is not autistic can do, but will need help in learning how to cope with over-stimulation, social interaction with peers and some speech development problems. It was a difficult diagnosis, but it also answered many questions we had about how our daughter processed information and reacted to certain conditions.
Today, Michaela is starting 3rd grade! She loves to read and play with her friends. Michaela is also in a mainstream classroom and she gets several sensory breaks through out the day. Michaela has some sensory issues during school especially when there is a fire drill. Michaela will also have speech therapy during the week. We can’t wait to get this new school year going!
The youngest joy of our life was born on October 9 in 2009. Melanie Jane was a planned C-section and landed in daddy’s arms around 10:30am. She was very similar to Michaela in many ways, but quickly made her own mark on our hearts. She is much more independent and likes to do things on her own. She loves to explore and has a very mischievous side that always keeps us on our toes and makes us smile.
Today, Melanie loves to play with her big sister (or “sisters,” if you include tormenting the dog as “play”) and enjoys climbing anything and everything. Bath time is a wonderful adventure for her and the end of bath time is a borderline traumatic experience. (She loves her bath time!)
As Melanie got older, we noticed she exhibited many similar warning signs that Michaela had at her age. We had our pediatrician refer us to a developmental pediatrician through Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. In December of 2011, she was officially diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Melanie started in Indiana First Steps (early intervention) February 2011 and received occupational, speech, and developmental therapy for one hour sessions once a week until she turned 3 years old in October 2012.
Melanie is currently attending developmental preschool five half-days a week. She receives one-on-one therapy with a speech and occupational therapist. Melanie also gets an opportunity to ride the school bus. So far Melanie’s preschool experience has started off well.
Kelli grew up in Columbus, Indiana. She graduated from Columbus East High School in 1998. She has a B.S. in psychology along with biology and music minors and graduated in 2002 from Culver-Stockton College. Kelli has worked in different areas since graduating from college. She had the opportunity to work as a 911 dispatcher for about 3 years in Lewis County, Missouri and Adams County, Illinois. After Michaela was 15 months old, Kelli worked at The Goddard School in Greenwood, with children ages from 6 weeks to 6 years old. Kelli stayed home for 5 years to take care of the girls, during that time she was very involved with Christian Education and Children’s Ministry at church. Currently, she is the Community Outreach Ally at the Autism Society of Indiana. Kelli enjoys reading, baking, blogging and knitting, along with spending time with the family.
Chris was born in Weatherford, Oklahoma, but has lived in several areas of the state. His family eventually settled in Enid, Oklahoma, where he graduated from Enid High School in 1996. He started attending college at Phillips University, but then transferred to Culver-Stockton College after Phillips U. closed due to financial problems. After graduating in 2001 with a bachelor of arts in music, Chris started his professional life as the Webmaster for Culver-Stockton. He worked several years for the college before he accepted a position working for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as the director of digital media and General Assembly production in the Office of the General Minister and President. Chris also leads the praise worship band at Allisonville Christian Church in Indianapolis. He enjoys cooking, science fiction, relaxing in the back yard as weather permits, and recently has begun a new hobby of home-brewing.
We often refer to Keena as our “first-born.” She is a golden retriever mix (we suspect with collie) and is a true family member. Adopted from the Quincy Humane Society in February 2005, she was discovered by us as the last of a litter of puppies and was being kept in a pen with a pack of border collie puppies. Skinny and shy, she warmed up to us right away and we knew she was our dog.
She is the most patient of animals, tolerating anything and everything from the girls. She loves to “protect” us by barking at any small noise from outside the house and will keep the “evil” pizza delivery person out of our yard. But if you meet her in person, she may lick and love on you to death. She is a very social dog, never rejecting any attention offered to her and loves to romp in the back yard, followed by a nice nap in the living room floor.