Blog

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 Blueberry Bread

This is a very good recipe which is relatively straightforward. The result was a delicious and tender baked cake. The lemon drizzle on the top really helped the overall flavour. The part of the recipe that wasn’t so successful was putting the lemon icing into a ziplock bag and snipping off the corner to drizzle evenly over the top of the cooled cake. That was rather messy so in the interests of keeping it simple I spread the icing on the top of the cake with a spatula. It made 12 thick slices and I stored it in the fridge in a cake box. Everybody loved it especially my little sister. She is in to Keto cakes or maybe its just any cake! I will be making this cake again but next time I am going to ramp up the lemon and leave out the blueberries and go for the traditional flavour. This cake mix is a good recipe. Try it and enjoy!

Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 1 hour 5 mins | Servings: 12

Nutrition: calories 235 | total carbs 6.6g | net carbs 4.1g | protein 7.2g | fat 20.8g | saturated fat 7.5g | fibre 2.5g | sugar 2.5g

Ingredients:

  • 5 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup / 114g butter, melted then cooled
  • 1/2 cup / 115g sour cream, room temperature (I used a plant-based single cream instead)
  • 1 lemon, 3 tbsp lemon juice & zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cup / 200g almond flour
  • 1/3 cup / 40g coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup 100g granulated sweetener
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup / 120g fresh blueberries

Lemon icing:

  • 4 tbsp powdered sweetener
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F. Line a loaf tin with grease-proof paper, or grease with butter or oil.
  • In a bowl, whisk the eggs whites, until stiff peaks form. Then set aside.
  • In another bowl, add the egg yolks and the melted, cooled butter. (Melt in the microwave for around 1 minute, and allow to cool for around 2 minutes, if too hot the butter will cook the eggs.) Whisk together until combined, then fold through the cream and lemon juice.
  • Next, in a different bowl combine all the dry ingredients, stir until fully incorporated. Also add the lemon zest.
  • Add the egg yolk mix to the dry ingredients, as well as 1/2 the stiff egg white mix. Stir until combined.
  • Fold the remaining 1/2 of the egg whites through the batter, until smooth. Be careful not to over-mix as this will remove air from the batter.
  • Last, fold the blueberries through the batter.
  • Then, fill the loaf tin with batter, and level with a spatula.
  • Bake in the oven for around 65-70 minutes, on the middle shelf until golden and can insert and remove a knife/skewer without crumbs sticking.
  • Check the bread after 40 minutes, once it’s browned on top, loosely place some tin foil over the top to prevent burning.
  • Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Optional: make the lemon icing by mixing lemon juice with powdered sweetener. Drizzle over once the blueberry bread is fully cooled.
  • Serve & enjoy!!

Keto sugar free ‘oatmeal’ cookies

These are no ‘oatmeal’ cookies as you substitute flaked almonds and coconut flakes. However, it’s a good recipe and the cookies are chewy and delicious. We all enjoyed them. I used a small ice-cream scoop to portion the mixture into 9 on the baking sheet. I did find that the cookies browned quicker than expected. At around 12 minutes I reduced the temperature slightly to 140C (fan assisted) for the remaining time. I would suggest checking after 10 minutes baking. Net carbs per cookie are 2.1g per large, satisfying cookie. They kept well in an airtight container on the worktop for 5 days. Try them and enjoy.

Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 15 mins | Servings: 9

Nutrition: calories 234 | total carbs 4.6g | net carbs 2.1g | protein 5.3g | fat 22.8g | fibre 2.5g | sugar 1.1g

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup / 115g unsalted butter, melted then cooled (I used a lactose-free butter)
  • 3/4 cup / 75g flaked almonds
  • 1/3 cup / 20g coconut flakes (I used desiccated coconut)
  • 1/4 cup / 50g granulated sweetener (I used erythritol)
  • 1 large egg, cold
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum, optional
  • 1/2 tsp salt, optional

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C / 160 fan.
  • Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  • Using a sharp knife, chop 1/2 cup / 50g of almonds and the coconut flakes (I used desiccated coconut so didn’t need to chop it) so they resemble the size of oats. You can use a food processor to do this if you prefer.
  • In a bowl, add all the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Next, add the melted butter, vanilla extract and egg, mix together to form a dough.
  • Once a dough is formed, roll the mix into 9 balls, and place on the lined baking tray. I used an ice-cream scoop instead of rolling the balls by hand.
  • Chop the remaining 1/4 cup of almonds, and press into the top of the cookies.
  • Flatten the cookies and shape the edges with your figures to remove cracks. 
  • Bake for around 12-15 minutes, or until golden.
  • Enjoy!!

No bake sugar-free cheesecake

I wanted a quick dessert for Sunday meal and this recipe seemed a good one. The recipe is accurate but I used the weights rather than cup measures. I made it quickly and used the hand mixer. It came together as outlined in the recipe. If you like more of a tang to your cheese cake then put some lemon zest in as it’s very creamy and sweet. The crumb base is good. I had a little bit of the cheesecake mix as it would have been above the tin, it served one person who didn’t want the crumb. Next time I will crush the raspberries and stir them quickly through the cheesecake filling. Mine was only chilled for 5 hours and although it was firm it could have done with a little longer to be fully set. This is a useful recipe to have. I would suggest playing round with the flavours. My version was lactose-free. Try it and enjoy!

Prep time: 15 mins | Chilling time: 7 hours | Servings: 12

Nutrition: calories 290 | total carbs 5.2g | net carbs 3.8g (with cream & berry toppings) or 2.8g without | protein 4.7g | fat 29.9g | saturated fat 16.9g | fibre 1.5g | sugar 3.3g

Ingredients:

Base:

  • 3/4 cup / 75g almond flour
  • 1/4 cup / 30g coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp powdered sweetener
  • 1/4 cup / 57g butter, melted (I used a lactose-free butter)
  • pinch of salt

Filling:

  • 1.5 cup / 360g cream cheese or mascarpone (I used a lactose-free cream cheese)
  • 2/3 cup / 130g powdered erythritol
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup / 240ml double cream (I used a plant-based double cream)
  • 5-10 drops liquid stevia, optional (I didn’t use this)

Topping (optional)

  • 3/4 cup / 180g double cream (I didn’t put double cream on top as it tasted rich enough)
  • 1/2 cup / 75g strawberries, halved or quartered (I didn’t use these)
  • 1/3 cup / 40g raspberries (I dotted fresh raspberries on the top)

Method:

Base:

  • In a bowl, stir in all the dry base ingredients, until combined. Add the melted butter, and mix to form a flaky crumb.
  • Grease a 7-inch non stick loose bottom baking tin, with a little melted butter.
  • Press the base mix into the bottom and smooth with the back of a spoon, so the edges are neat.

Filling:

  • In a mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, powdered erythritol, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Mix with an electric mixer, until all ingredients are combined. Taste and adjust the sweetness if needed with the optional liquid stevia.
  • In a separate bowl, whip the cream until thick, be careful to not over mix.
  • Fold the cream through the cream cheese with a spatula, until fully incorporated.
  • Spoon the filling on top of the base and smooth of the top with a spatula.
  • Place in the fridge to fully set, around 6-8 hours, or overnight. Alternatively, place in the freezer until set.

Topping:

  • Add 3/4 cup double cream to a mixing bowl, and whisk until thick, but still soft.
  • Remove the cheesecake from the tin and top with whipped cream, smoothing with a spatula for pillowy ripples. Top with sliced strawberries and raspberries. Optional: dust with a little powdered erythritol.
  • Serve & enjoy!!

Keto Chicken Curry Casserole

We were going to roast a free range chicken but then I saw this recipe. What attracted me was the paste and it was delicious. The use of cauliflower was good. However, I followed all the instructions but found some of it browned a bit much. It didn’t affect the taste and the whole dish was delicious. The curry is nice on its own with some fresh spinach leaves or with steamed cauliflower rice. I will be making this again but with chicken fillets as it was a bit messy taking the chicken off the bone, shredding it and mixing it into the curry. It is worth making but I like keeping it simple. Try it and enjoy!

Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 1 hr 20 mins | Servings: 6

Nutrition: calories 377 | total carbs 12.5g | net carbs 7.7g (8.1g if adding pumpkin puree)| protein 44.6g | fat 16g | saturated fat 3.5g | fibre 4.8g | sugar 5.2g

Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken thighs, skin on & bone in (I used a whole chicken cut into pieces)
  • 1 large cauliflower, florets only
  • 2.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken stock
  • 100g spinach
  • 120g fine green beans
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree, optional (I chose not to include this)

Curry Paste:

  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh red chilli

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 400F/ 200C/ 180 fan-assisted.
  • Place the cauliflower and chicken, skin side up, in a deep roasting tray and toss with 1.5 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook for around 30 minutes.
  • As the chicken is cooking, make the curry paste. Place all the ingredients in a small blender, or a pestle and mortar, and blend until the ingredients come together. Fry the paste over a medium-low heat in 1 tbsp olive oil for a minute, until fragrant.
  • To the paste, add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, chicken stock, 1/4 tsp salt, and pumpkin puree if using (I chose not to include pumpkin puree). Mix until all ingredients are incorporated and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Once cooked, remove the chicken and cauliflower from the tray. Add to the tomato curry paste mix to the tray, then place the chicken back in, still skin side up. Cook for a further 30 minutes.
  • Next, add back in the cauliflower, spooning the sauce over, and cook for another 20-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked to your liking and skin crisp. Add the spinach for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
  • To a pan of boiling water, add the green beans, simmer for around 2-3 minutes, until al-dente. Then place into cold water, this keeps the beans crunchy.
  • Serve the curry with green beans and rice. Optional: you can top the curry with a spoonful of greek yoghurt & fresh coriander.
  • Enjoy!!

Note: store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freezer for 2 months.

Keto Beef Stew

It’s very cold here, so I hankered after a Keto beef stew. Occasional beef meals are ok especially if it’s grass-fed or organic meat. I changed the order of cooking from the original recipe as it appeared too complex; so my method is written below. The recipe made enough for 8 portions. This is a fantastic stew. It’s rich and the meat is very tender. I served it with a side of braised cabbage with chillies. I have had the stew twice now and there’s still enough to make and freeze a Keto pie. Try it and enjoy!

Original recipe Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 2 hrs 10 mins | Servings: 6 (I had more meat so it made 8 portions)

Nutrition per serving: calories 288 | carbs 8g | net carbs 6g | protein 20g | fat 20g | fibre 2g

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 beef, cubed (1 inch) (I used 880g grass-fed beef, i.e.1.94lbs)
  • 8 ounces whole mushrooms, quartered
  • 6 ounces celery root, peeled and cubed into 3/4 inch pieces (I used turnip…no celeriac available)
  • 4 ounce onions, diced
  • 2-3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 3 ounces carrot, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced (I used garlic puree)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, avocado oil, or bacon grease (I used olive oil)
  • 5 cups beef stock
  • 1 large bay leaf (I didn’t use this)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  • Remove the beef from the fridge/freezer, and allow to come to room temperature.
  • Quarter the mushrooms, then wash and chop the rest of the veg, and set aside.
  • Trim the excess fat off the beef, and cut into 1 inch cubes. Add two teaspoons of oil to the beef, and mix in a bowl.

Method:

  • Fry the beef in oil in a hot pan. Do this in batches so that it seals the meat rather than steams it. Then place the meat in a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot. (I used a cast iron skillet to fry and then transferred to the dutch oven.)
  • In the heavy pan, fry the mushrooms and onions together for about 3-4 minutes. Once cooked, add to the Dutch oven.
  • Add the rest of the vegetables, stock, bay leaf (I didn’t use this), thyme, garlic and tomato paste to the Dutch oven. Stir to ensure that the beef is covered by stock.
  • At this point, I put the lid on and placed it in the oven to slow cook at 170C/150C fan-assisted for approx. 2 hours while I went out for a walk.
  • You can also cover the heavy pan/Dutch oven and reduce the heat to a low simmer on the hob, and cook for 2 hours. I find stove top cooking has to be watched carefully.
  • Insert a fork into a piece of meat to check for tenderness before serving. You might want to cook for the last 20 minutes with the lid off to allow some reduction of the stock. The tomato puree helps to thicken the sauce.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve & enjoy!