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Moravian College

SOAR Profile - Alyssa Miller

Name: Alyssa Miller 
Major/minor: English, Early Childhood Education certification
Expected date of graduation: Spring 2014
Hometown: Nazareth, Pa. 
Activities: Secretary of C3 (campus community connection), event coordinator of Kappa Delta Pi, and member of Alpha Sigma Alpha. Inducted into Kappa Delta Pi, the national honors education society. 
Project title: The Development of Intervention Strategies and Instructional Materials for Children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech 
Project advisor: John Dilendik

To trace Alyssa Miller’s interest in childhood apraxia of speech, the subject of her SOAR project, one must only find a family portrait. Alyssa’s sister, Alexis, suffers from the disorder, and the Moravian undergraduate knows first-hand the struggles her sibling encounters.

“This disorder is very close to my heart,” admits Alyssa, explaining that while the condition has always impacted her life, she knew little about it.

Through her SOAR project, Miller set out to create intervention strategies and instructional materials for children with childhood apraxia of speech, which affects the brain and nervous system. A person with the condition is often unable to perform task or movements when asked, even though the request is understood, they are willing to perform the task, the muscles needed to perform the task work properly, and the task may have already been learned.

While growing up, Alyssa explains her sister’s difficulties were notably, but she felt incapable of explaining it accurately to others. Through her project, she was able to fill in the blanks, while developing strategies and materials that could be used in a classroom.

Although the amount of research available regarding apraxia is limited, Miller was able to effectively map the strengths and weaknesses that accompany the disorder. Part of her research process included interviewing her mother, grandfather and her sister’s occupational therapist on the matter. Through her research, Alyssa concluded that the best way to work with students with apraxia is by maintaining a routine, promoting consistency whenever possible.