The first apple produced by a boy on the autism spectrum is a symbol of achievement

Proud: Tallin Higgins displays the apple grown from seed he saved as a preschooler. Photos: submitted
Proud: Tallin Higgins displays the apple grown from seed he saved as a preschooler. Photos: submitted

Young Tallin Higgins has displayed years of patience and dogged persistence highly unusual to a boy of his age. Seven years’ patience, to be exact. 

From an apple seed saved in preschool, he has grown a tree that only recently bore it’s first fruit.

Tallin is on the autism spectrum and has a very limited diet. He only eats green apples or green grapes as his choice of fruit, due to sensory issues and OCD. 

“For preschool and school every day all the only fruit he has ever had was a green apple,” Tallin’s mum, Sam said.

For many years Tallin has been saving the seeds from the apples he has eaten. 

A childcare worker at the Wingham and District Preschool suggested Tallin try growing an apple tree from the seeds.

“First of all they had it in their garden and he would water it every day. Then when it was time to finish preschool they put it in a pot. Well, they put the seeds and the dirt in the pot –  there was still nothing there! And then we’ve gone from pot to pot as something started to grow over the years,” Sam explained.

The tree is now in the ground in their back yard. And seven years after planting, right on cue according to Google, the tree finally produced one tiny fruit, which Tallin found on the ground when he went outside to play with his dog. 

Size comparison of Tallin's apple. Photo: submitted

Size comparison of Tallin's apple. Photo: submitted

“Tallin came inside and he’s yelling and jumping around and he’s like ‘look! I’ve got an apple!’,” Sam said.

That the fruit was nowhere big enough to be close to edible didn’t make the find any less exciting for Tallin or Sam.

The family has not an easy time and has faced many challenges with Tallin and his twin brother Jhye, also on the autism spectrum, and they see this apple as a symbol of achievement.

“We’ve had so much trouble with schools. They’ve been in four different schools before we actually got Joey’s (St Joseph’s Primary School Wingham) on board and they’ve been really supportive,” Sam said.

Tallin presented with the St Mary MacKillop award by St Joseph's Primary School Wingham principal Mrs Emma Timmins. Photo: submitted

Tallin presented with the St Mary MacKillop award by St Joseph's Primary School Wingham principal Mrs Emma Timmins. Photo: submitted

Tallin has thrived at Joeys and while he might not win awards for academic achievement because of an intellectual delay, he has made his mark at the school in other ways. In 2017 he was a winner of the St Mary MacKillop Award, which is presented each term to one student who consistently goes above and beyond to put the needs of others first.

“He does have some challenges, but the sports side of it is really good. That’s why this is just so exciting and positive for him that something that he started so long ago that he’s been nurturing has happened,” Sam said.

“He has proved our motto in our household to “never give up”.