My son began showing signs of an airway issue as early as eighteen months old, but I didn’t know it and neither did his pediatrician. As early as 1 year old, he developed eczema, food and environmental allergies. By three years old developed exercise-induced asthma. He also had severe teeth crowding and decay, night terrors, trouble sleeping, snoring, and bed wetting. By this point it had become instinctual to breathe through his mouth. Little did I know that by him doing this that it would cause so many negative effects. I was assured by our pediatrician that he would outgrow all of these issues. Again and again and year after year, I kept asking questions and taking concerns to our pediatrician and she always assured me that he would eventually outgrow these issues. I believed her.
Paxton began his kindergarten year scoring 197 points higher than where the average kindergarten student begins on an entry assessment. All of his teachers talked about how bright, academically advanced, determined, kind, a social butterfly, and creative he was. Paxton is now nine years old and has symptoms that mimic ADHD and isn’t meeting his full potential academically. He is hyperactive, can’t focus, has a hard time listening and obeying. How does a kid start off so advanced and then become just average? These are the words one of his second grade teachers told me. “Paxton is just an average kid”. I remember thinking you have no idea who Paxton is. Paxton is extraordinary. These words from his teacher set me on a mission. I knew that there was something going on in my child that was causing his ADHD symptoms and all of his sleep issues. I was on a mission to figure this out.
We have been searching for answers for years through our pediatrician, two allergists, a child psychologist, and an orthodontist (who isn’t educated on airway) and everyone kept telling us he would outgrow these issues. As a last resort to figure out what was happening, we had Paxton evaluated by a child psychologist. The doctor determined that Paxton had ADHD but only the hyperactivity side. Even though he only had the hyperactivity side we would still need to develop a 504 education plan and eventually put him on medication to achieve his best academically. At first I was relieved that we finally knew what was wrong with our son because now we can get him the right help. The psychologist knew he had trouble wetting the bed, sleeping through the night, trouble falling asleep, and snoring. We were told to put him on melatonin. So we did what any parent would do, and we listened to the doctor. He did start to fall asleep better but all the other issues still persisted. A few weeks went by and I was reading a book on ADHD. The more I read, the more I believed that Paxton had been misdiagnosed.
My husband, who is a general dentist, started to connect all the dots in August of this year. We were connected to a colleague of his who is an orthodontist who specializes in airway. She referred us to an ENT in Boston, MA. He ran a CT scan on my son and found out that he has a 75-80% nasal blockage from chronic sinusitis. This was when the puzzle pieces all started to fit together. We now know why he has been a mouth breather for so long. We now understand why he has trouble falling asleep, wets the bed, and snores. He will be having nasal surgery in December for the ENT to clear his nasal passages and open his chronically congested sinuses. His palate is currently being expanded, and he will begin myofunctional therapy in January.
After reading your book, I now know the important steps we need to take to get Paxton completely healed. I am now educated to spot the early signs of airway issues in my younger two children. As a mom who has seen this first hand it has started a new passion within me to become a parent advocate for children’s airway health. I am now on a new mission that something systemically has to change. Physicians cannot keep ignoring these signs of airway obstruction and sleep disordered breathing in children and misdiagnosing them for ADD/ADHD. Doctors must stop suggesting band aid solutions to problems and begin connecting the dots toward true healing. Parents need to be educated on this so we can be the advocates for our children when we have doctors who are uneducated on these issues.
Dr. Lim’s Book is so informative and educational not just for a physician but also for parents. I wish I would have had this book when I was pregnant and believe that all pediatricians should be handing this to parents on their child’s first well-baby visit. I am so thankful for Dr. Lim for writing this book and for the work she does every day to care for children with airway issues. You are truly transforming lives!