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Teaching your children about your sleep apnea

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  • Teaching your children about your sleep apnea

    I don't know about you guys but when my young daughter first saw me in my CPAP machine mask, well, she was frightened.
    I tried to describe to her what it meant but saying: " I need the mask because I stop breathing" , would probably do more harm than good.

    Then I noticed this infographic on the website I get all my CPAP equipment from :

  • #2

    Hi Sleepeasy

    Lets your child hold it, try it on and become fimiliar with it. Your child is probably worried stupid about the stop breathing try and explain what it is and what the preasure does and stick to the facts. A good explanation should help your child understand more and not be as frightend


    • #3
      I'll chime in here with what worked for me, in case it helps anyone else who is trying to work out how to explain it. The more ideas the merrier, I think, as kids are all unique.

      I put some thought into this issue, and it worked quite well. My younger kids are both autistic. I set the machine up in the bedroom when I got it. My son, who is very curious and observant, asked what it was for: I told him it would blow air into my face to help me sleep at night, so I wouldn't be so tired in the day, and would have more energy to do fun stuff with him. My younger daughter only asked a week later, seeming not to have noticed it before, and I told her the same thing. They both seem perfectly satisfied with the explanation: if/when they ask for more information, I will give it to them, and by then they will be used to me using the machine, so they won't worry as much.

      I was particularly concerned about this issue with regard to my eldest, a young teen with Aspergers Syndrome. She is very smart, and also tends to get anxious very easily, so I needed to make it all seem no-big-deal and fun for her. I had told her I was having some tests done at the hospital, but not what they were for, and she didn't ask. When I got home from the test, I told her I'd found it tricky to get to sleep that night, because the light on my finger made me feel like ET, so I'd had to play ET in the dark for a while before I could settle to sleep (that made her giggle, although she pointed out that ETs finger does not glow red).

      There was a break of several weeks between my diagnosis and getting my machine, and in that time I did not mention the diagnosis to her, because chances are she would have worried about me dying in my sleep. I thought a better time to talk about it was when I had the treatment available, so she could see there was no need to worry.

      In between my diagnosis and getting my machine, she watched Goodnight Britain with me, just because she happened to come into the room when I was watching the first episode, and I made sure to have the second episode up on my screen the next day, ready to play without comment the next time she came to sit beside me.

      It's an overnight ferry trip for me to get to the sleep clinic, so I took her with me, and we spent two days and a night together. In the morning, hours before the clinic visit, I explained to her that I had sleep apnoea, like the guy on 'Goodnight Britain' and that I was going to get a machine like he had, that would make me look rather like Darth Vader. She was surprised, but accepting and we laughed about it.

      I gave her the option of coming into the appointment with me or waiting outside with her GameBoy. Thankfully, she chose the GameBoy, but it meant she felt the appointment could not be too worrying, since I had invited her to come along. When I came out, I told her I had been issued a nasal mask and wouldn't resemble Darth Vader after all, but an elephant, and we laughed about that.

      I set the machine up soon after we got into the cabin, so she could get used to the look of it all evening, until it was time to sleep. I think the extended mum-and-daughter together time helped her to feel more relaxed about it all, and helped her to see that it wasn't a huge issue. In the morning, she told me I looked like an alien with the mask on, which she thought was pretty cool.