Recently a 6-year-old girl in Orlando had a temper tantrum in her classroom and was taken to the “office” only to be arrested! Someone had grabbed her wrists to restrain her, and she responded by kicking that person.
Her grandmother was called to the school and explained that the little girl has a medical condition known as obstructive sleep apnea which causes her to act out. One of the people in the office apparently said that he had sleep apnea and doesn’t kick people! I’m not condoning kicking another person, but arresting a 6-year-old girl for assault seems like overkill especially when it relates to a medical condition! (The officer who arrested her was not following policy and was fired.)
The fact is that many children with sleep/breathing issues are “overactive” and are often diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. Dr. Stephen Sheldon, head of the pediatric sleep department at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, says he believes all cases of ADHD are really sleep/breathing problems. The last figure I saw about this is that 15% of our children are now diagnosed with ADHD.
My knowledge of pediatric sleep apnea or OSA lets me know that nothing good is going to happen for this girl unless something is done to improve her breathing ASAP. Research done by Ronald Harper, Ph.D. Neurobiologist at UCLA, shows that there can be permanent brain damage every night with low oxygen levels.
This girl is developing a long face and has poor rest oral posture being more of a mouth breather. The problems will only get worse for her in school as her inattentiveness will result in poor performance and the frustration that goes with that. It is a downhill spiral of negative things in the future for this poor girl and others like her unless she gets the help she needs. There is treatment for children like this.
Arresting this child for assault makes nothing better but only makes a very bad situation worse. How many more kids will be arrested in similar circumstances before people everywhere are aware of this problem? How many more children will exhibit very active behavior, perform poorly in school, and have permanent brain damage that keeps them from developing their potential?
If a child can’t breathe easily, sleeps poorly, and suffers from OSA the future is very dim indeed. Help me raise awareness of this problem by forwarding this article!