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Raising Awareness of Speech Apraxia

In my blog introduction, I explain that I have Global Dyspraxia that impacts on my whole body, the most obvious when you meet me is its impact on my speech. This led to me being wrongly diagnosed at an early age. That was a ‘fun’ experience as I understood everything but couldn’t shout at them to tell them what I thought.

Luckily I have a tenacious family and a grandmother with numerous degrees in education including an M.Ed in assessment and learning. I was privately assessed for a text-based voice-output communication aid. Within two minutes I said, ‘I’m hungry can we go home’; I was ten years old. Subsequently, we won the legal tribunal we took out against the local education authority, for failure to meet my needs. It was greatly helped by us employing for many years a consultant educational psychologist who was fantastic. She observed me in schools and carried out assessments on verbal reasoning etc. At the age of eleven I was acknowledged as intelligent. That disparity between speech output and assessed intelligence is what leads to a diagnosis of developmental verbal dyspraxia (DVD; UK) or childhood apraxia of speech (CAS;USA).

My poor early education resulted in me having a diagnosis of PTSD for which I’m still having weekly EEG Neurofeedback. Would you believe that I received no speech and language therapy (SaLT) during my early years education other than private sessions funded by my family. Since I was eleven, I have had specialist SaLT in America and a fully-funded specialist home education programme. I have risen quickly through all levels of school education and intend to go to university in the next few years. My academic progress demonstrated the level of untapped ability and knowledge.

My speech is developing gradually through a specialist programme although I am wary of using it with people I don’t know. I have a realistic goal of having an increasing foundation of words and functional phrases, that I can use. I still have a US-based SaLT who I visit annually; she sets the programme and a trained team who deliver it. We regularly video my targeted programme and share them via iCloud and have Zoom meetings with the SaLT.

My whole programme is broader than SaLT and encompasses strategies for learning, vision and exercises for strength which is important in dyspraxia; it is modified as I make progress. My grandmother has a balance between her consultancy and managing the programme like a military operation. I know her skills are greatly valued by others and I try not to take her for granted!

I know I am no longer that damaged little boy but inside he is still part of me; I struggle at times but then don’t we all. The purpose of this blog is to raise awareness of the general tendency to equate speech difficulties or use of communication aids with a cognitive deficit. There’s a ‘does he take sugar mentality’ so people tend not to talk to you.

  • People are often uncomfortable when there is a speech deficit of any type and fill the vacuum with too much talk or ignore.
  • Slow down and look at the person and say something and wait for them to respond because most people will acknowledge verbally or physically in some way and human communication is often non-verbal anyway. Take the time to communicate.
  • If someone uses a communication aid use the same approach just include them in a conversation even if it’s a group.

In my team when we have a debate, we all use iPads and what a leveller that is. I interview all potential team members which current team members love sitting in on. Each candidate is given an iPad with a QWERTY key board voice output app. The increase in anxiety is tangible. All candidates have good psychology degrees with other experience. One candidate told me how she was planning to work her way through all ‘conditions’ then apparently was going to be a research fellow and cure the world. I am usually polite but always measured in my response. She was left in no uncertainty as to why I wouldn’t employ her.

If you passed me in the street you wouldn’t see any difference. I nod and smile to people when they let me pass or when they smile as they pass, which people do.

My message is simple. Stop being uncomfortable or afraid and actually look at and see the person; not their deficit.

My next blogs will spotlight individuals who are braver than me in taking action to raise awareness.

Keto Lemon Bars

I wanted a light lemon cake and 1.7 net carbs per large slight is light enough for me! This recipe certainly met my needs. It was very easy to make as you just add ingredients into a food processor as outlined in the recipe and I found it very accurate. It has to be whisked up strongly to make sure it’s light. I wanted it to be ultra lemon flavour so I decided to make some lemon syrup and drizzle over the cooked cake. I put the juice of two lemons in a pan with two tablespoons of erythritol, bring it to the boil and watch until it thickens slightly. I then used a skewer to make small holes in the cake, spooned the syrup over the top of the cake and left it to cool. Cut into eight pieces or 16 if you want smaller slices. It was easy to get out of the dish. This is a truly delicious cake and not too sweet. I’m going to make it again with less lemon but with raspberries added and unsweetened desiccated coconut sprinkled on top. Try it and enjoy!

Prep Time: 5 mins | Cook Time: 35 mins | Servings: 8

Nutrition (per bar): Calories: 336 | Total Carbs: 3.6g | Net Carbs: 1.7g | Protein: 10.4g | Fat: 30.8g | Saturated Fat: 11.8g | Fibre: 1.9g | Sugar: 2.6g

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs 
  • ½ cup / 120g sour cream (I used lactose-free single cream)
  • ½ cup / 120g butter, softened (I used lactose-free butter)
  • ¼ cup / 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cup / 200g almond flour or ground almonds
  • 2 tsp baking powder (I used gluten-free baking powder)
  • ⅓ cup / 40g powdered erythritol (I didn’t have any powdered erythritol so I decided to make an erythritol/lemon juice syrup).

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 175 Celsius / 350 Fahrenheit. Grease a oven-proof dish or baking tray with butter / grease-proof paper.
  • Beat the eggs until frothy.
  • Next, add the sour cream and softened butter and blend using a food processor or electric mixer until combined.
  • To the mixture, add the lemon juice, grated lemon zest and powdered erythritol. Blend until well combined.
  • Lastly, add the almond flour and baking powder and mix until the batter is smooth.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared dish / baking tray.
  • Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and a knife inserted comes out clean. 
  • Once baked allow to cool completely before cutting or removing from the pan. Almond flour cakes are fragile when hot, but they firm up as they cool down. 
  • Once cooled, dust the cake with powdered erythritol.
  • Slice, serve, and enjoy!!
  • Note: The cake can be stored in the fridge in an air-tight container, for up to 1 week.

Keto sausage and mushroom lasagne

This is a ‘clear the freezer and fridge’ recipe. It’s Keto-friendly as I put the ingredients into the ‘verywellfit’ site to get the nutritional analysis. The lasagne was delicious; far better than I expected! It wasn’t the standard wet texture when you use courgettes instead of lasagne sheets (zucchini in US). Salting the courgette slices to remove water and then washing off the salt and drying them out on a rack at a low temperature helped it remain firm. I’m trying to be more inventive in using up ordinary ingredients and converting them into something delicious. The cost of living is rocketing here so we don’t want to waste food. Everyone said the lasagne was a success. A member of my family who would never (ever) eat a sausage loved it. The recipe made six portions. Try it and enjoy!

Nutrition: (one-sixth of the lasagne): 336 Calories/ Total carbs 10.1g/ Fibre 3.2g/ Net carbs 6.9g/Total fat 23.4g/saturated fat 12.5g/ Protein 24.2g/Vitamin D 170mcg/ Calcium 116mg/Iron 4mg/Potassium 919mg.

Ingredients

  • 10 oz lean sausage meat (I removed the sausage meat from 2 packs of good quality sausages)
  • 10oz mushrooms
  • 6oz chicken in low carb tomato sauce
  • 30 g tomato puree (2 Tbspn)
  • 300g cream cheese (I used lactose-free)
  • 8oz frozen spinach
  • 1 cup of cheddar cheese (or any cheese I use lactose-free cheese)
  • 3 large courgettes

Method

  • Remove the sausage meat from the skins. Break it up and mix it together.
  • Slice the mushrooms and fry slightly in a little oil in a hot skillet. Take out and put in a bowl.
  • Add the sausage meat to the skillet and break it up as you fry so that it’s in small pieces of sausage meat. You don’t want big chunks.
  • Add the mushrooms to the pan and mix with the sausage meat. Add a little water/stock and stir in the tomato puree. You want quite a thick sauce. Continue cooking gently. Taste the sauce and add salt, pepper, Italian herbs and garlic salt to taste.
  • As this is a use up the leftovers recipe, I added a small container of chicken in a Keto tomato sauce that was in the freezer. (it was about 6oz chicken) I broke up the chicken into small pieces to mix in.
  • Turn the oven on low temperature about 160C/140C fan assisted.
  • Prepare the slices of courgette. You want it to be thin but holding its shape. I used a mandolin to make the slices. To make it easier I cut off the top and the bottom of the courgettes.
  • Put the slices on a tray and sprinkle with salt and leave for 5-10 minutes. You will see the bubbles of water appearing. Wash the salt off and pat dry.
  • Put the slices of courgette on a tray in the oven and let it dry out. You can see the change in consistency. It takes about 10-15 minutes. I used a rack on a tray as then the courgettes don’t stick. A silicone mat or greaseproof paper would be good too. Keep checking them and remove when the slices seem dry.
  • Make up the cream cheese and spinach layer by mixing it together. I added a little unsweetened coconut milk to help the mixture and then half a cup of the grated cheddar. Check flavour and add seasoning to taste. It could be a little nutmeg, garlic salt or Italian herbs. I used basil.

  • Prepare the baking dish with a little olive oil. start to layer ups the lasagne. First layer was half of the sausage meat mixture, then half of the courgettes, then cheese and spinach topped by the sausage mix. Layer the rest of the courgettes topped by the cheese and spinach layer. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over.
  • Cook for 30 minutes at 160C/140C fan assisted until brown
  • Let the lasagne stand for 10 minutes so it firms up.
  • Slice into 6 pieces and serve

Baked Salsa Chicken with Restaurant Style Salsa

I wanted something different for dinner, I really enjoy ‘Tex-Mex’ food so this recipe seemed perfect. The combination of flavours was wonderful, the spices blended together to create a lovely sweet and smokey flavour with a kick of spice. The real winner however was the salsa recipe , they really weren’t exaggerating when they said it was restaurant style salsa. Trust me, once you make this version, you’ll never buy store bought again! It had a great authentic flavour and was so quick and easy to make. Just chuck it all together in a food processor, give it a light whizz, and voila it’s done! This is such a quick and easy recipe, especially for those nights you want something that isn’t complex and doesn’t take too long to cook. I loved everything about this meal, and its definitely a firm family favourite! Try it for yourself and enjoy!!

Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 35 mins | Servings: 4

Nutrition per serving: Calories; 216 | Carbs: 4g | Net Carbs: 2g | Fibre: 2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Sugar: 4g

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 ½ cups salsa (see ingredients below)
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (I used a lactose-free cheddar cheese)
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

Ingredients for Salsa

  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsps diced jar jalapeno
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsps lime juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander, optional

Method

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness.
  • Season the chicken with the garlic salt, chili powder, and cumin. Set aside.
  • To make the salsa, add all the ingredients to a food processor. Blend until smooth.
  • Taste the salsa, and adjust the seasonings to your liking. Add additional lime juice, or jalapeños as desired. Note the longer it sits the spicier it will become.
  • Pour ½ cup of salsa in the bottom of a baking dish and spread to coat the bottom.
  • Place the chicken on top of the salsa.
  • Pour the remaining salsa over the top of the chicken.
  • Bake for around 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. 
  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top of the chicken with cheese. Return to the oven for 3-4 minutes to melt the cheese.
  • Sprinkle with coriander before serving.
  • Serve & enjoy!! I had mine with a side of cauliflower rice, broccoli and green beans!

Keto Coffee Cake

Recently I’ve enjoyed going out for coffee, and of course that means getting a cake to go with it, unfortunately the free-from options are pretty dire! They’re either hard to come by, or just plain and boring, who wants that when everyone else gets to enjoy a scrumptious looking cake? Not me. I took it upon myself to research cake recipes with the sole purpose of being paired with a good cup of coffee, and I found this recipe, coffee and cake for breakfast you can’t go wrong!

This cake is everything I hoped it would be, almost a bakery-esque quality. It has a wonderful texture, fluffy and light inside, with a great crunch on top from the nut crumble. I didn’t have a round tube pan like the original recipe suggested, so I just used a normal cake tin. Not everyone in my family likes walnuts, so I compromised and used a mixture of almonds and hazelnuts instead. It was simple to make and the recipe was easy to follow, it at first seemed odd to mix water in at the end, but this helped the consistency of the batter massively. I just used a hand mixer until it was all blended together. I’ll be making this one again, try it and enjoy!!!!!!

Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 55 mins | Servings: 20

Nutrition per slice: Calories: 221 | Carbs: 5.8g | Net Carbs: 2.9g | Fibre: 2.9g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 18.4g

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts (not everyone in my family like walnuts, so I used flaked almonds with a few chopped hazelnuts)
  • ⅓ cup swerve Brown
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 ¾ cup almond flour
  • 6 tbsp coconut flour
  • 6 tbsp whey protein powder (or egg white protein powder)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder (I used a gluten-free baking powder)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup butter, softened (I used a lactose-free butter)
  • ¾ cup Swerve Sweetener (I used erythritol)
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ to 1 cup water

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 350F (177C/157C fan-assisted) and grease a 9-inch pan well (I used a large round, heavy cake tin). Line the bottom with grease-proof paper.
  • In a bowl, mix together the walnuts (I used a mixture of almonds and hazelnuts), swerve Brown, and cinnamon. Then, set aside.
  • In another bowl, mix together the almond flour, coconut flour, protein powder, baking powder, and salt.
  • Next in a separate bowl, beat the butter with the swerve (I used erythritol) until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time, once this is done, add the vanilla extract and whisk until fully incorporated.  
  • To the egg mixture, fold in the flour mixture and mix until well combined.
  • Then whisk in ¾ cup of the water. If the batter is quite thick, add additional water as necessary. The batter should scoopable and spreadable but not quite pourable. 
  • Spread about half the batter into the prepared pan, and sprinkle with half of the nut mixture.
  • Spread the remaining batter in the pan and sprinkle with the remaining nut mixutre.
  • Bake for around 45 to 55 minutes, or until golden brown and just firm to the touch. (A toothpick / knife inserted in the centre should come out clean).
  • Remove and let cool in the pan.
  • Once cooled, slice, serve and enjoy!

Keto Meatloaf

I like Keto meatloaf but decided I wanted it lighter so amended this recipe by using turkey mince. It was tender and the Italian flavour was wonderful. I criss-crossed bacon strips across the top and the sides which helped with both flavour and tenderness. I had meatloaf with broccoli and salad but I was so eager to eat it, I forgot to take the final photo! I also had it in a Keto roll with mayo for lunch the next day…and the day after, sliced thinly and piled onto the roll. Try it and enjoy!

Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 1 hour| Servings: 12 slices (3/4 inch thick)

Nutrition per slice: Calories 215 | Fat 14g | Total Carbs 5g | Net Carbs 3g | Fibre 2g | Sugar 2g | Protein 17g

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Almond Flour
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 oz tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 lb mince beef (I used turkey mince instead)
  • 1/2 cup sugar-free tomato sauce (optional)

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the mince and tomato sauce (if using).
  • Once combined, add the mince and mix until fully incorporated. Note: Avoid overmixing.
  • Next, transfer the mixture into an oven-proof dish and form into a loaf shape.
  • Note: I layered the top of my meatloaf with slices of bacon.
  • Bake for around 30 minutes.
  • Next, if using spread the tomato sauce on top of the meatloaf.
  • Return to the oven and bake for 25-45 more minutes, or until cooked through and internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F (71 degrees C). (Time will vary depending on thickness of the loaf.)
  • Once cooked, allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  • Cut carefully into slices using a serrated bread knife.