23 Aug 2014
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Brookhaven's Whiz Kid

A weekly feature highlighting the best of Brookhaven's Kids!

Brookhaven's Whiz Kid
  • Aleena Miller, Age 7
  • A Brookhaven resident and local inspiration

Aleena Hope Miller was born 7 years ago with a genetic disorder that has a typical lifespan of 6 months to 2 years. Yet this spunky girl has beat the odds with this defect that causes Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type I, the most severe and fatal form of the disorder and has become an inspiration to her family, friends and neighbors.

SMA Type 1 restricts Aleena's ability to move, swallow or breathe on her own, but this doesn't stop her from living her life to its very fullest. Despite her full body paralysis she loves to learn, read books, watch Barbie videos, and enjoys her American Girl dolls.

While interaction could be difficult for someone with SMA Type 1 it isn't for Aleena, who uses a special computer for communication which allows her to just look at an icon on the computer screen, which in turn simulates a mouse click and speaks,  amazingly all done by the computer following her eyes.

If this isn't an incredible feat on its own, she is also learning how to use a computer art program to draw and color by simply using the movement in her eyes!

Her parents are filled with joy at the possibilities this computer has opened up for her.

“Technology has given Aleena a new world, one my husband and I take great pleasure in watching her explore. It’s simply amazing to see her communicate, create and use a computer to express herself,” said Stephanie Miller, her mother.

While she isn't able to attend a regular school she does have a teacher and speech therapist from Dekalb County who work with her at home, as well as a team of private therapists who help to keep Aleena healthy and happy.

And, like all little girls, she loves to participate in the Daisy Troop at , and enjoys her twice weekly sessions with a music teacher.

The poster child for Hope and Light Foundation, a non-profit to benefit SMA research, awareness and education, her condition is now considered the closest to a cure out of 600 neurological disorders.

Aleena is an inspiring example of overcoming the worst kind of adversity, and all of Brookhaven should be honored to have her as a neighbor!

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