If your child’s behaviour is worsening, it is worth asking the question – is this sleep apnoea? In a recent ABC documentary on ADHD, one of the kids being followed was removed from the series. A sleep study proved the problem behaviour was due to sleep apnoea. Adults with sleep apnoea become tired and forgetful. Kids react differently. They become hyperactive.
If you notice your child snoring, restless at night and unrefreshed by sleep, consider a sleep study. The bad behaviour and tantrums could be due to a medical reason, namely sleep apnoea. Doing nothing will frustrate you and your child. Either have a sleep study or see an ENT surgeon.
Sleep apnoea affects 3% of all Australian children. Essentially it is due to a genetic predisposition for the tonsils to outgrow the child. This means the airway is relatively smaller.
Yet not all kids with sleep apnoea have huge tonsils. If your child’s mouth or jaw is small, even moderate tonsils can be a problem for airflow. Sometimes the tonsils can look small but they are actually quite large and tucked into the walls of the throat.
If your child needs more room to breathe freely at night and maintain the oxygen supply to the brain, the tonsils are expendable. They are lymph nodes and represent 2 of approximately 120 in the head and neck. Their job is to fight infection but there are plenty of others to fulfil this function.
Some kids are slow to learn to speak. This could be just natural progression and could fix itself with growth, but it is important to make sure there is no medical cause, such as hearing loss. Most speech therapists will suggest you get an audiogram done for your child to make sure. This is particularly important if kids in your extended family have had grommets for glue ear (fluid behind the ear drum).
Another important cause of slow speech development is sleep apneoa. If you child’s sleep is restless and interrupted, it is hard for them to concentrate in the day time. One of the most important learning tasks for little kids is speech development. They have a hard time keeping up with their peers because they are so unrefreshed by sleep. Adults with sleep apnoea get very tired in the day time, whereas kids get hyped up and cranky. No wonder it is difficult for them to concentrate and learn.