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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 Brownies

This is a very easy recipe. The brownies are delicious and have a great texture. I cut them into 20 as they were a Valentine’s Day dessert. I decided to put a chocolate icing on top; I following this frosting recipe which uses cream cheese (lactose free) but I left the butter out as I wanted it as a glaze. The brownies are delicious with or without the frosting. Each serving of the original recipe minus the frosting is 0.7 Net Carbs. Try them and enjoy!

We had a special dinner and we all exchanged flowers, chocolate or wine. Those who couldn’t be here had flowers sent to them. It’s interesting that in lockdown we have more celebration dinners with those in our safe ‘bubble’. Sometimes the toast is just ‘Happy Wednesday’ or whatever day it happens to be. I see it as a form of gratitude and valuing what we have. Once we are allowed to meet up with my aunt and her family, we will have a Thanksgiving meal.

Can I introduce Fae, my 11 weeks-old old cross-breed poodle. Fae means loyalty in Medieval English. In Gaelic it means mischievous creature. She is cute and very naughty. I like her lying quietly next to me while I watch a film. I’m not so keen on the chewing or licking of feet. No chocolate for her though as it’s poisonous to dogs!

Nutritional information (25 servings): Cals 51 | total fat 4.8g | Total Carbs 1.6g | Fibre 0.9g | Net Carbs 0.7g | Protein 1.2g |

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fine almond flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp dutch cocoa or additional regular. (I used additional dark cocoa powder)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil or butter (I used lactose-free butter)
  • 3 tbsp water or additional oil (I used water)
  • 2 eggs, or 2 flax eggs
  • 2/3 cup granulated erythritol or regular sugar (I used brown granulated erythritol)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F./ 176C, 156C (fan assisted).
  • Mix all ingredients well. Spread evenly into the pan. Smooth down, using a second sheet of parchment if needed.
  • Bake 20 minutes on the centre rack, then let cool completely and they will continue to firm up.
  • They also firm up even more if you refrigerate very loosely covered overnight.

Crazy Keto Dough (For Everything!)

I have had my eye on this dough for a while, not least because it’s a mix of almond and coconut flour. That mix of flours to me gives a far superior result. See the original recipe here which gives guidance on using the dough to make tortillas, naan bread, pizza, cinnamon rolls, pasta, ravioli and hot pockets. All I’ve made so far is pizza. None of us like pizza made from Keto Fathead dough or cauliflower. This is just like a very good ‘normal’ pizza. One person in the household finds standard pizza boring but said this was the best pizza ever and was mooching round trying to get me to surrender my last piece. I suggested they should try chewing rather than inhaling it. The crust of this pizza was crisp without being dense. It tastes really good with a great chewy texture. We all loved it. It is easy to make as you just follow the steps and use the food processor. I really recommend it. Please note though that I doubled the quantity to make a 12 inch pizza in a cast iron skillet. I suggest that after the initial bake of the pizza base, you remove the parchment paper. Then when you do the second bake with toppings the base crisps up more. This is an accurate recipe.

My topping was made of 4 Tablespoons of tomato paste with water added which I heated up until it reduced and thickened enough to spread and not bleed into the base. If you watch the Great British Bake Off, you will know that no-one likes a ‘soggy bottom’! When the sauce was thick enough, I added a sprinkle of erythritol until the acidity was balanced. Then added Italian herbs, a little garlic powder and onion powder, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. I did this slowly and tasted until I liked the taste. It was spicy. The topping included a cup of sliced brown mushrooms, 3 ounces of finely sliced thick cooked ham and 5 ounces of cheese. Finally a drizzle of olive oil and a little more freshly ground black pepper. The main ingredient tomato paste is 2 Net Carbs per Tablespoon. I have to repeat that it was the best meal ever and we ate it with a spinach, rocket (arugula) and watercress salad.

Nutrition (serving is 1/8th of the basic recipe): cals 89 | fat 6g | Saturated fat 1g| Carbs 4g | Fibre 2g | Net Carbs 2g | Protein 3g |

Ingredients:

  • 96 g almond flour 
  • 24 g coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (I use gluten-free)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt depending on whether sweet or savory
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 3-5 teaspoons water as needed

Method:

  • Add almond flour, coconut flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt to food processor. Pulse until thoroughly combined. Note: you can alternatively whisk everything in a large bowl and use a hand or stand mixer for the following steps. 
  • Pour in apple cider vinegar with the food processor running. Once it has distributed evenly, pour in the egg. Followed by the water. Stop the food processor once the dough forms into a ball. The dough will be sticky to touch. (This is essential for elasticity, mine was not as sticky as it should have been)
  • Wrap dough in cling film and knead it through the plastic for a minute or two. Think of it a bit like a stress ball. Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes (and up to 3-4 days in the fridge). (I was able to roll this dough out but next time definitely will be lots of ‘next times’, I will make sure the dough is more sticky before I rest it)

To make pizza:

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C/160C (fan–assisted).

Line a baking tray with a baking mat or parchment paper.

If making pizza, you’ll want to blind-bake the crust without toppings until lightly golden (10-13 minutes).

Add the toppings and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

3 ingredient flourless sugar-free cookies

I was hungry and this seemed a simple recipe with only 3 ingredients. The results are excellent, sweet, crunchy at the edges and chewy in the middle. They took around twenty minutes from mixing to baked. The cookie dough was easy to handle. I used a small cookie scoop to portion the dough onto the baking sheet. I actually made 16 cookies. The hardest part was waiting for them to cool. This recipe is one to keep as a favourite. It’s an accurate recipe.

Prep time: 2 mins | Cook time: 10 mins | Servings: 12 cookies

Nutrition for 1 cookie: calories 101 | carbs 3g | protein 5g | fat 9g | net carbs 3g

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond butter, or any nut/seed butter of choice (I used no-added sugar crunchy peanut butter)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sweetener (I used brown granulated erythritol)
  • 1 large egg

Note: for an egg-free version substitute the egg for 3-4tbsp ground chia seeds.

Method:

Ingredients
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/176C/156C (fan-assisted) , line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients, and mix until well combined. Note: for the egg-free version, start with 3 tbsp of chia seeds, if the batter looks too thin add the extra tbsp.
  • Use an ice cream scoop, or your hands, and from small balls on the baking tray. Ensure they are spread 3-4 inches apart. Press each ball into a cooke shape, or press down using a fork.
  • Bake for around 8-10 minutes, or until golden-brown but still soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Enjoy!!

Really Good Low Carb Granola

I occasionally like a plant-based yogurt, with blueberries for breakfast and have usually added chopped nuts or seeds to it. I need a crunch with it to contrast with the smoothness of the yogurt. This granola recipe is what was missing. It is easy to make and not only is it a great flavour and texture, but if you keep some bigger chunks it makes a good snack. It keeps well in an airtight container.

Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 20 mins | Servings: 12

Nutrition (1/3 cup/40g serving): Calories: 178kcal | Carbohydrates: 12.42g | Protein: 6.2g | Fat: 15.53g | Fibre: 8.8g | Sugar: 1.66g|3.62 net carbs/serving

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped (2 oz/56.7 g) ( only had a few walnuts so used more almonds)
  • 1/2 cup whole almonds, roughly chopped (2.5 oz/70.9 g)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, chopped to resemble oats (2 oz,/56.7 g) (This actually worked well)
  • 1/3 cup whole pumpkin seeds (1.75 oz/49.6 g)
  • 1/3 cup whole sunflower seeds (1/75 oz/49.6 g) (I only had mixed seeds so used 2 x 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup ground golden flax meal (1 oz/56/7g)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dried cranberries (I used these sugar-free dried cranberries)
  • 1/4 cup Sukrin Clear or Gold Fiber Syrup (Vitafiber Fiber Yum, yacon syrup, or honey) (I used Sukrin Gold Fibre Syrup).
  • 1 tablespoon butter or ghee or melted coconut oil (I used melted coconut oil)
  • 1 tablespoon low carb powdered sugar or powdered Swerve – omit if using honey (I used powdered Swerve)
  • pinch or two of salt
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of cinnamon optional
Method
  • Preheat the oven to 350F/176C/156C (fan-assisted) and position the rack to the middle of the oven. Line a large sheet pan with a piece of parchment.
  • Chop the nuts that need chopping. (I chopped the nuts by hand)
  • Add all of the nuts, seeds, flax, and dried fruit if using, to a medium bowl and mix.
  • Measure and pour the Sukrin Clear Fiber Syrup (Vitafiber, Fiber Yum or honey) over the nuts and seeds and mix thoroughly.
  • Then, add the melted butter (or coconut oil), and mix. Next add a pinch or two of salt, powdered sweetener, and cinnamon if using, and mix once more.
  • Distribute the low carb granola mixture evenly on the prepared baking tray.
  • Bake until fragrant and slightly golden in color – around 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir and allow to cool completely before breaking up into large clumps. Store in an airtight container.
  • Enjoy!!
  • Makes 4 cups with 12, 1/3 cup (40 g) servings. Each serving is 3.62 net carbs per serving.

Keto chocolate mug cake

I have to be honest and admit that I couldn’t decide which flavour to make, so I made both this chocolate recipe and a lemon mug cake. I still can’t decide which one I prefer. Even better, as you see from the photos below, the two flavours go nicely together in a bowl with whipped cream.

The chocolate mug cake is definitely a single portion but it is a rich flavour and an excellent texture. Just follow the cooking instructions, if its too moist on top, keep microwaving in single bursts of 3-5 seconds until you are happy with it. Let it cool a bit before adding whipped cream and grated chocolate. I stuck an unsweetened chocolate button in the cream.

My advice is try both mug cakes, separately or together. I am now on the search for a Keto mug cake for tonight. Forgive me for my gluttony, I’m in lockdown, its freezing here at the moment and I’m still growing. Take care wherever you are.

Prep time: 2 mins| Cook time: 1 min | Servings: 1

Nutrition: Calories 272kcal | Carbs 7g | Protein 9g | Fat 23g | Fibre 4g |Net carbs 3g

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp almond flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp low carb sugar (I used erythritol powdered sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder (I used a gluten-free baking powder)
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise (or you can use sour cream) (I used a vegan mayonnaise)
  • 1 large egg yolk (or you can use a full egg, though this will change the texture of the cake slightly)
  • 1 tsp water

Method:

  • Sift the almond flour and cocoa powder, ensure there are no lumps. Add all the dry ingredients into a mug, mix completely.
  • Next add the mayonnaise, egg yolk, and water, stir until all ingredients are well mixed, make sure there are no unmixed ingredients as the bottom.
  • Let the batter sit for 1-2 minutes.
  • Microwave for around 50 seconds, depending on your microwave.
  • Enjoy!!

Note: Although the texture will be a little different, you can use 1 large egg, rather than just the egg yolk if you don’t want left over egg white.