Life is not easy. Especially when you are in a family of invisible illnesses and disabilities. It can be serious, funny and downright hard! But we make it. Just like everyone else. We just do it in a different style.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sleep Issues in Children

If you go way back to the beginning of this blog, I brought over some links and articles regarding sleep issues in children. This is always a very big concern in our home, because of young's son inability to have good sleep experiences.

I realize I am jumping around a bit in this blog (yesterday, new apps, today sleep!), but I have yet to figure out how to put blogposts into groups and categories. Once I do that, this jumping from subject to subject will be better organized.

In my daily perusal of medical journals (yes, I have strange hobbies!), I came across these two article titles:

Cognitive Abilities May Be Affected By Childhood Sleep Problems Persisting Through Adolescence


Underlying Sleep Problem Linked To Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder In Children

I know reading medical jargon and study results is not everyone's cup of tea, but when it affects your everyday life, you get smart and interested really fast. Basically, the sleep world finally woke up and realized that a lot of the issues with cognitive function and performance can be linked to faulty sleep habits, patterns and brain wiring/firing. In our case, my young son barely seems to have a circadian clock. He was diagnosed with Moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. It looked like narcolepsy (before he got his CPAP machine) and insomnia, which is kind of impossible to have.

The big issue is that this has DEFINITELY affected his cognitive functions, executive functioning and memory. His short-term memory is shot and long-term is sketchy. He can not draw inferences and his brain stubbornly refuses to make leaps of connection from one subject (or even word!) to another related subject (or phrase!). Teaching him is very difficult (on bad days, I say it is non-existent) and I struggle to keep information flowing and relevant.

Okay, I am getting off subject. This is not about my son, per se, but is about awareness. Parents, please listen to me. My son went through the usual diagnosis of ADHD for years. However, though the behavior is similar, it is NOT the same disorder. My son remains unresponsive to ADHD meds. In fact, he is on Concerta (also took Ritalin for awhile, but made the sleep phase problem worse!), but it does not increase focus or attention. Makes him more hyper actually.

The point I want you to take away today is sleep disorders are very real. They have very real symptoms that mimic other disorders. And most doctors are not thinking "sleep disorder" immediately. This is changing.

I had the chance to attend a sleep conference last year in D.C. sponsored by the Sleep Foundation. There I heard the latest research into sleep disorders. Out of that meeting came the recommendations for doctors to begin asking questions regarding sleep for children as young as 2 years old, especially if there were hyperactivity symptoms.

Sleep issues are real. Here in the Unique Family, we live through it everyday. Three us (out of 5) wear CPAPs (hubby fights wearing his. Grrr!). All three have memory and cognitive issues.

Pass this along to anyone you think it might benefit. Also, let me know, anyone in your family/Friends that you are concerned about?
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