Dr. A's daughter competed in a global competition for girls who code last week, learn more about their story below. Two local Northern Virginia middle school girls pitched their app Aspeechia to Silicon Valley, representing the United States in a global competition for girls who code. Melina Kalamatianos and Ryley Largent met at an after-school computer science studio called Coder Kids in McLean. In September of 2017 they, along with their mentors Cecilia Hahn and Shreya Bhatia, began developing a smartphone app to help kids who suffer from a common disorder called Childhood Apraxia of Speech, or CAS. The app helps kids develop better speech pronunciation and can be used in conjunction with speech therapy. Aspeechia also makes speech coaching available to children in areas where speech therapists are not always easily accessible.
Team Aspeechia was chosen out of 2,000 teams from across the world to compete as of one six finalists in Technovation’s Junior Division, where they represented the United States. They pitched their app to members of Google’s engineering team and other Silicon Valley pros.
Melina was motivated to create this app because she knows how difficult dealing with a speech disorder can be. "Since I went through speech therapy myself, I wanted to help eliminate the stigma that is associated for kids who have to do therapy,” Melina said.
Ryley’s personal experience with her sister’s speech delays helped her understand just how impactful an app like Aspeechia could be. “Watching my little sister go through her speech and language processing delays made me want to create something to help empower young children in their own treatments,” Ryley said.
Melina and Ryley, both just 12 years old, hope to see their app grow and help more kids who suffer from CAS. Aspeechia is currently available on Google Play for Android only, but they hope to change that and offer the app for Apple products as well.