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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.

Low Carb Granola

I enjoy low carb granola for breakfast with coconut milk greek style yogurt, blueberries and a splash of Skinny Maple Syrup. It keeps me full all morning. This recipe caught my eye as it has freeze dried raspberries in it which I thought would add extra zest to it. It’s an easy recipe as you use a blender to chop the nuts so you have a mix of smaller and ,larger pieces. it’s important that the final is sticky so that it comes toner. It crisps up when cooking. You need to monitor the cooking so that it’s evenly browned – mine took 30 minutes to brown evenly. It makes about a litre and a half of granola. The freeze dried raspberries lift the flavour to a higher level. It’s crunchy and the raspberries give it a zing of sharpness which is lovely. enjoy it for breakfast or a healthy snack during the day. At Net Carbs of 3.7g per 50g it is very satisfying. It’s an easy and accurate recipe. Try it and enjoy!

Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 30 mins | Servings: 15

Nutrition per 50g serving: Calories: 270kcal | Total Carbs: 8.1g | Net Carbs: 3.7g | Protein: 8.8g | Fat: 24.1g | Fibre: 4.4g | Sugar: 1.2g

Ingredients:

  • 150g whole almonds
  • 100g walnut halves
  • 100g pecans
  • 65g pumpkin seeds
  • 65g sunflower seeds
  • 40g flaxseed, milled
  • 30g whey protein powder, unflavoured
  • 90g coconut flakes/chips, unsweetened
  • 80g almond butter
  • 80 ml water
  • 4 tbsp freeze dried raspberries
  • 2 tbsp granulated sweetener
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 150C / 300F. Line a baking tin with greaseproof paper, and set aside.
  • Pulse the almonds, walnuts and pecans in a food processor until you have a mixture of smaller and larger pieces. 
  • Repeat with the pumpkin and sunflower seeds. 
  • Next empty the nuts and seeds into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients(reserve 2 tbsp of the raspberries for later) and mix with a spatula. The mixture should be sticky. If it’s looking dry, add another tablespoon of water.
  • Press the mixture firmly onto the prepared baking tin, until the surface is flat.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until browned. Turn the baking sheet after 20 minutes, to ensure an even bake.
  • Remove the granola from the oven and set aside.
  • Once cooled, break the granola into small pieces, and mix in the remaining 2 tbsp of freeze dried raspberries. Then store in an airtight container until ready to eat.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Super Fudgy Keto Brownies

Happy New Year! I hope you are all keeping well. I have not been putting many new recipes on the blog recently. After the lockdowns, I needed to lose a stone in weight as I hated it around my middle, I’ve now lost a stone and a half and am used to lighter eating.

This recipe is delicious and 1 net carb per portion. They are very rich, fudgy and satisfying. The recipe is quite unusual as you start off by whisking ingredients in a bowl over hot water. Weigh your ingredients carefully. If you note the size of the baking tin used, it’s because I made one and a half times the recipe as my mum and 9 year old sister like these brownies. I added an extra egg to mine as it says in the recipe that erythritol can make the batter thick. It was easily rectified. I found the recipe and cooking time to be accurate. This is a recipe I will use again. Try it and I think you will enjoy it as much as me. Take care!

Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 20 mins | Servings: 16 brownies

Nutrition per brownie: Calories: 102kcal | Carbs: 3g | Net Carbs: 1g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Fibre: 2g 

Ingredients:

  • 130g butter (I used lactose-free butter)
  • 140-200g xylitol, allulose , or powdered erythritol (I used powdered erythritol)
  • 80 g cocoa powder (I used organic dark cocoa)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature (I had to add extra egg)
  • 70g almond flour

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a 88 brownie tin with greaseproof paper, and grease the sides. Set aside. 
  • Add the butter, sweetener, cocoa powder and salt to a medium bowl. Melt over a bain-marie mixing constantly, until all ingredients are melted together. (note erythritol, unlike xylitol, won’t dissolve much at this point). Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
  • To the chocolate mixture, add one egg at a time, whisking well until completely incorporated. The texture should appear smooth, with all the sweetener dissolved. Note: if using erythritol, and your batter ends up too thick, you may need to add an extra egg. Ensure you do not overmix as thsis will change the texture of the brownies, from fudgy to cakey.
  • Next, add the almond flour to the brownie mix, whisking until fully incorporated.
  • Bake for 15-25 minutes, or until the centre is just set and a toothpick inserted comes out moist. Note: This can vary from oven to oven, check your brownies around the 15 minute mark, remember that you’ll brownies will continue to cook while they cool. 
  • Once baked remove the brownies from the oven. Sprinkle with flakey sea salt (optional) and allow to cool completely.
  • Lift brownies using the edges of the greaseproof paper and cut into desired size (around 16). To get extra clean edges, place in the freezer for 10 minutes prior to cutting. 
  • Serve and enjoy!!

Low carb Peking Duck & hoisin sauce

I have never eaten duck and I wanted to try Peking duck and found this recipe.

The original recipe used a whole duck and being unsure about whether I liked duck or not, I decided to try it with two duck leg/ thigh pieces. I found the duck pieces easy to pan fry and popped the pan in the oven for 5 minutes. The Hoisin sauce is easy as it’s blended together. I enjoyed the duck and served it with cauliflower rice, spinach, spring onions and cucumber sticks. The Hoisin sauce was delicious and I’ve used it in stir fries. I would definitely make it all again but would search out low-carb tortillas. I think the sauce was a little too thick so would thin it down in the future. Try it – I really enjoyed it!

Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 50 mins | Servings: 4

Peking duck nutrition per serving: Calories 538 | Saturated Fat 14g | Carbs 6g | Net Carbs 3g | Fibre 3g | Protein 16g

Hoisin sauce recipe

Prep time: 5 mins | Servings: 8

Hoisin sauce nutrition serving size 15g: Calories 71 | Carbs 2g | Net Carbs: 1g | Protein 3g | Saturated Fat 1g | Fibre: 1g | Sugar: 1g 

Ingredients for the Peking Duck:

  • 1 small whole duck, roasted (I used two duck leg/thigh pieces see guidance link below)
  • ¼ English cucumber, cut into batons
  • 2-4 spring onions
  • 1 batch low carb Hoisin sauce, see below
  • large lettuce leaves
  • small low carb tortillas (I didn’t have any of these)

Ingredients for the Hoisin sauce:

  • 4 tbsp tamari
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter, smooth
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Frank’s hot sauce
  • pinch pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 2 tsp sugar-free maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp xanthum gum

Method

Peking Duck:

  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Prepare a large roasting tin, by placing a wire rack inside.
  • Prepare the duck, ensure the skin is dry, then score the skin with a sharp knife (be careful not to pierce the meat).
  • Place the duck onto the wire rack, season with salt and pepper, and any other seasonings you desire.
  • Roast for around 30 minutes, breast side up.
  • Then, turn the duck over and roast for another 20 minutes.
  • Once the duck is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to rest. Please note I started my duck pieces off in a frying pan, duck breast down then completed it in the oven.
  • Whilst the duck is cooking, prepare the hoisin sauce.

Hoisin Sauce:

  • Place all the ingredients into a blender.
  • Blend for around 3 minutes, until the ingredients are well combined and the sauce has thickened.
  • Set aside in a bowl.
  • Note: can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks in the fridge.
  • Prepare the cucumber, spring onions, and lettuce leaves. Set aside into bowls, and warm the tortillas.
  • Once the duck has cooled, carve/shred into pieces.
  • I served it with cauliflower rice, spring onions, cucumber sticks and spinach. Serve & enjoy!!

Peanut butter chia pudding

I was in the mood for something a bit different for breakfast, and found this recipe. It was very simple and easy to follow; just put all the ingredients together and blend in the processor. This was a quick and easy recipe. The pudding itself was smooth in texture, and had a nice flavour. I would make this again, and maybe experiment with different variations such as a chocolate flavour. Try it yourself, and enjoy!!!

Nutrition per pudding: calories 232 | fat 19g | carbs 10.2g | net carbs 6.4g | fibre 3.8g | sugar 3.4g | protein 8.5g

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (I used whole earth smooth peanut butter)
  • 1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (I used unsweetened coconut milk instead)
  • 1/4 ground chia seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar-free flavoured maple syrup
  • 2-3 drops monk fruit pure extract, optional

Method:

  • In a blender, add all the ingredients.
  • Blend for around 30-40 seconds, stop, and scrape the side / bottom of the blender with a spatula. Then blend again, for around 30 secs to a minute, or until creamy and smooth.
  • Taste, and check the sweetness, adjust with extra drops of monk fruit or stevia if needed. Or you can use extra maple-syrup, however this will change the texture, the more syrup you add the more liquid the pudding.
  • Transfer the pudding 8 small glass jars, or one large bowl. 1 serving of pudding is around 1/3 cup (80ml).
  • Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, for the best creamy texture and flavour.
  • Serve with toppings of your choice, e.g. dark chocolate chunks, a drizzle of chocolate syrup, and crushed peanuts. I served mine with some fresh strawberries and blueberries
  • Serve and enjoy!!

Note: The pudding can be stored in the fridge for around 5 days in an airtight container.

Gluten-free flatbread

I made these to go with the chicken tikka masala. It’s a gluten-free recipe and was very easy to make. I put everything in a food processor and whizzed it up in one then left it to rest for 5 minutes. The rolling out into a thin oval shape was easy between two pieces of greaseproof paper. The cooking time was accurate and the finished flatbreads were perfect for scooping up curry. I would recommend this recipe.

Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 10 mins | Servings: 6

Nutrition per flatbread : Calories 194 | Carbs 30.3 g | Net Carbs 25.9g | Protein 2.7 g | Fat 6.9 g | Saturated Fat 4.1 g | Fibre 4.4 g | Sugar 1.5 g

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup light coconut milk (canned), plus more as needed (adds fat and moisture, but the flavour is not prominent)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 heaping tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup oat flour (I used gluten-free whole grain oat flour)
  • 3/4 cup potato starch (I used potato fibre instead)

For rolling, optional

  • 1/4 cup gluten-free all purpose flour (needed very little with using greaseproof paper to roll out)

Method:

  • In a medium mixing bowl add light coconut milk, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar and whisk to combine.
  • Next, add baking powder, sea salt, garlic powder, and dried oregano and whisk to combine. The mixture will likely fluff up and foam from the reaction of the baking powder and apple cider vinegar. This is normal!
  • Then, add coconut flour, oat flour, and potato starch and stir with a wooden spoon to combine, until a dough is formed. Let rest 5 minutes uncovered.
  • Note: I placed all the dough ingredients in a food processor and mixed until a dough formed. I found this to be easier and quicker.
  • The dough should be malleable and slightly tacky, it shouldn’t be crumbly at all.
  • I then formed my dough into one round ball, and then sectioned into 6 equal triangles. Roll each section of dough into a thin oval shape, for a thicker flatbread roll slightly thicker and cook for a bit longer.
  • Heat a skillet over medium/medium-high heat. Once hot, spray or drizzle with a little oil. Then use hands to carefully transfer the dough to the pan. If it cracks at all, just carefully and quickly patch back together with your hands.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the underside is golden brown. Bubbles may form while it’s cooking. Flip carefully and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Lower heat as needed to ensure it doesn’t burn, until both sides are golden brown. Repeat this process until all dough is used.
  • Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator or at room temperature for up to 2-3 days. To freeze, place cooked, cooled flatbread in a freezer-safe container or bag (adding parchment paper between each flatbread will prevent sticking) and freeze for up to 1 month.
  • To serve, either heat from frozen in a toaster oven, thaw overnight and then heat in a skillet, or microwave from frozen until warm.
  • I served my flatbreads with chicken tikka masala.