Noelle Scolieri


Noelle Scolieri was the first Communication Disorders student to represent Geneva at the Pennsylvania Speech and Hearing Association (PSHA).  Noelle is a Senior Communication Disorders major who was presenting at the conference.  Noelle’s project was entitled Childhood Apraxia of Speech and Literacy Development. Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a speech disorder where children can think of the thing they want to say, but somewhere in the journey from the brain to the mouth, the message gets jumbled and they cannot say what they are thinking.  This tends to leave children feeling very frustrated and alone.  Noelle experienced this first-hand when she began babysitting a little girl with CAS.  She says, “before I would go babysit, I started researching things I could do to make her feel more understood and less frustrated.”

This was the beginning of Noelle’s journey into the study of Apraxia.  She expressed her interest in this specific disorder to her professor at Geneva, Dr. Hockenberger, who then introduced Noelle to David Hammer, a speech therapist who specializes in CAS and works at the Apraxia-Kids Foundation.  Noelle later wrote an extensive research paper on Apraxia as part of an Academic Partner’s Project with the Geneva Honor’s Program.  For her poster session at PSHA she took pieces of this research and focused on the way CAS affects literacy.

What she found was that children who struggle with Apraxia also have trouble as they grow older, learning to read.  This is because they have less phonological awareness, which means their ability to break down sounds in words is weaker.  In her project, Noelle focused on ways to help children with CAS improve their reading and writing skills.  She says of her research in Apraxia, “there’s just something in me that wants to know more about it.”

Noelle was asked to be Meritorious Poster Session Presenter at PSHA, meaning she was one out of six people whose work stood out to the board, and she was asked to present at a special time.  She was also one of the only undergraduate students presenting at the conference.  She says, “It was a really cool experience.  It was very humbling.  I was very honored to be picked for this.  It took a lot of dedication, and I felt very loved the whole time by the professors and students that came to support me.”  Noelle was then asked to present her research at The Apraxia Kids National Conference the following summer.

To students studying in the field of Communication Disorders who would be interested in presenting at these conferences in the future, she recommends, “If there is a specific thing in our field that you want to know about, find out as much as you can.  Talk to your professors, research, learn about it . . .you never know who it’s going to help.” 

She also adds some encouragement saying, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Reach out to Speech-Therapists and Professors.  In my experience they all love what they do and are more than happy to help.  So, reach out to the people who know more than you do.”

Noelle will graduate from Geneva in December 2019 with a major in Communication Disorders. She will attend Baylor University to pursue her Master’s of Science Degree in Communication Disorders. Her hope is to become a certified Speech Therapist and then go on to become a specialist in Childhood Apraxia of Speech.  Her desire is to help give children the skills they need to communicate well and she believes it’s impNoeortant for people to know, “the most important thing you can do for a child who may have a speech-disorder is to get them into therapy as soon as possible.  Early-intervention might prevent other problems for them later in life.”