The following story is true, with identifying details altered to maintain the anonymity of the subjects. The parents in this story wanted to shield their son from an ongoing association with behavioral and sleep issues so they asked to be anonymized. Ultimately, we felt it was important to share their story because we believe it can help so many other families who are struggling to find the cause of behavioral issues with their children. If you would like to learn more about this family’s story, please contact us.
Mom’s phone rings during school hours (again). Her heart rate skyrockets and she immediately thinks, “What did my son do this time?” It turns out that he had set off the sprinkler system playing with a bunsen burner in science class and sent his school into chaos. Mom is shocked...and also not. Her son’s behavioral issues have been escalating for years. Her life is focused on trying to figure out what’s going on so she can help.
They Knew Something Was Wrong
When their son was in preschool, Mom and Dad noticed he was developing at a different pace than the other kids. So their pediatrician ran blood work with results indicating that their son was anemic and might have a tick-borne infection. But neither herbal nor pharmaceutical treatments worked.
Their son’s issues started to escalate into outbursts he couldn’t control and difficulty with eye contact, so they had him evaluated for the autism spectrum. Doctors said he was close but not on the spectrum. So they had him assessed for an audio-processing issue, which led to them try an ear filter - but they saw no improvement in his behavior or executive function.
In 4th grade, they put their son into a new private school to see if an environmental change would help. That was a rough year. His behavior became explosive, and he was going through downward spirals of depression with crying jags he couldn’t pull himself out of. So Mom and Dad took their son to a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with ADHD. They immediately started trying the typical prescriptions, and went through at least three before deciding that the medication was only making things worse. Their son’s struggles were overwhelming, and they didn’t feel any closer to a solution, even after seeing over a dozen doctors.
“It consumes your life. Every conversation is about your child and every speck of time you spend is looking at research and treatments. And then to watch him get worse, you start to question everything.” - Mom
A Question They Hadn’t Heard Yet
Near the end of the school year, Dad ran into a friend who asked if he’d ever looked at their son’s sleep. Even though he was getting plenty of sleep, going to bed at 7:30pm and waking up at 6am, Dad spent some time considering and decided he had to be open to anything, so he got the earliest available appointment with a sleep specialist at a prestigious institution. The specialist said that based on their son’s symptoms, she usually wouldn’t recommend a full sleep study, but seeing two parents at their wit’s end, she could recommend it if they really wanted to try it. What do you think they said?
After a seemingly endless (but really only four month waiting period) Mom and Dad took their son to an overnight sleep lab, where he was hooked up with a frightening number of electrodes in a bed that wasn’t his own; Mom even slept with him to try to help the distressing situation. But in the end, the sleep study showed that their son had obstructive sleep apnea - a serious sleep disorder that can lead to long-term health, learning and behavioral consequences. When they reconvened with the sleep specialist, she said again that their son’s symptoms would not have usually led her to prescribe a sleep lab, and that without the persistence of his parents, he would have likely gone on undiagnosed. Well done, Mom and Dad.
Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, occurs when the muscles in the throat relax, narrowing or closing the airway so you’re unable to breathe. Your brain senses the inability to breathe and wakes you up to get oxygen, usually for such a brief time that you don’t remember waking up. Those wakeups disrupt your sleep cycle to the point that it stops you from going through the necessary stages to complete the many housekeeping and development processes the mind and body go through at night. Sleep apnea in children can lead to a number of negative consequences: “Children with untreated sleep apnea run the risk of having behavioral, adaptive, and learning problems...Another study showed that the odds of behavioral problems were 4-5 times higher in kids with incident sleep apnea, and 6 times higher children with persistent sleep apnea.” - Alaska Sleep Education Center
Treating What Was Actually Wrong
After the diagnosis, it was off to the races. Mom and Dad had their son evaluated by an allergist, an ear nose and throat specialist (ENT), a dentist and a myofunctional therapist, to discover the cause of their son’s OSA. They started immediate treatment for allergies and were prescribed a CPAP machine, as well as a palpable expander. They also began using Knit, which is the only system that provides ongoing visibility into what happens from the time you put your kid to bed to the time they wake up. Using cutting-edge, camera-vision technology, Knit is the at-home, non-wearable solution that tracks breathing while your child is sleeping to detect disturbances. With the data captured by the camera, the Knit panel of sleep experts is then able to identify potential issues with children’s sleep and recommend action-items for improvement. So as Mom and Dad made changes to help their son get the sleep he needed, Knit tracked if those changes were working, and provided additional expert suggestions for continued improvements.
To Mom and Dad, the change in their son’s behavior and demeanor can only be described as dramatic. After just two months, they were seeing a happier kid who was having significantly fewer problems in school, and was generally enjoying life again. But then the winter holiday season hit, and for their family, it hit hard. After two weeks of being off of his normal diet and schedule, their son was acting out again at school. “But his sleep is fine!” thought Mom and Dad - and they would have once again believed that a sleep issue was just the latest misdiagnosis. But this time, Mom and Dad had an ace up their sleeve.
Knit is Crucial for Ongoing Management
With Knit, Mom and Dad could see that their son’s sleep was again disrupted, and Knit’s sleep expert was then able to help them identify allergies as the culprit. After quickly adjusting back to his allergy-free diet, they saw his sleep improve and his daytime behavior find its equilibrium. For the past year, anytime Mom and Dad notice their son’s behavior or mood off, they quickly refer to the data from Knit to find the source of the issues with their son’s sleep. They are then quickly and efficiently able to correct issues, with results (good and bad) being obvious within a week. Without Knit, anytime they needed to adjust their son’s sleep because they saw daytime issues return, they would have had to wait another four months to get another sleep study in a sleep lab. But Knit can reveal the information they need in almost real time.
Everything is Different Now...In a Good Way
Their son just started a new school year back at public school. Calls from his school have gone from distressing reports of acting out to positive reports of a happier, more social and more successful kid.
It’s amazing for them to look back on their journey with their son’s sleep. Even with the right diagnosis, if Mom and Dad hadn’t added Knit to their sleep treatment plan, they might have doubted that sleep was the continuing root cause of all of their son’s issues. They tried so many things that didn’t work - and finally found something that did.
“The ability to try new things quickly and have immediate insights – I’d pay any amount of money for that.” - Dad
How Mom and Dad used Knit:
- Determined allergies were disrupting son’s sleep and monitored experiments to make improvement
- Benchmarked APAP against an oral appliance to determine which caused the fewest number of arousals
- Fine-tuned APAP treatment, including adjustments for altitude during travel, based on Knit breathing analysis
- Improved adherence to APAP device when their son was made aware that the data showed his good nights of sleep correlated to positive days of behavior
How Knit has helped their son:
- Significantly stronger academic performance
- Able to transfer back to a public school
- Happier kid who enjoys life again