Hudson Valley Parent

HVP October 2014

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12 Hudson Valley Parent ■ October 2014 By MALIA JACOBSON M any children with special needs also face signifi cant sleep challenges, a drain- ing double-whammy that leaves millions of parents and children exhausted. The National Association of School Psychologists reports that as many as 30 percent of children may have a sleep disorder, but rates are much higher among children with special needs. Recent studies published in Pe- diatrics link childhood snoring and sleep apnea, or "sleep disordered breathing," to behavioral problems and an increased need for special education. In fact, SBD is strongly associated with conditions like Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. What's more, sleep problems can be especially devastating to chil- dren with special needs, because the resulting sleep deprivation can worsen the symptoms of their exist- ing medical or behavioral problems, says Carole L. Marcus, M.D., director CHOP Sleep Center in Philadelphia. Snoring and sleep apnea Most children snore once in a while, and 10 percent snore most nights. But these nighttime noises shouldn't be dismissed as "normal." Researchers now believe that snoring is on the same spectrum as sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by pauses in breathing that cause brief awakenings. Left untreated, sleep apnea can contribute to behav- ioral problems and learning diffi cul- ties, even hyperactivity. A study by the American College of Chest Physicians found that chil- dren who snored loudly were twice as likely to have learning impair- ment. The potential impact is so severe that the American Academy of Pedi- atrics recommends that all children who snore be screened for sleep apnea, says Dr. Robert Heinle, of the The struggle with sleep Help your child with special needs to get a better night's sleep Rates of sleep apnea and other sleep troubles skyrocket for kids with special needs.

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