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Dementia in Children and Teens – When Kids Brains Regress Like The Elderly

Posted Mar 21 2010 7:36pm

The Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Association have lots of information on caring for people with dementia but no resources on their website for people caring for children, teens and young adults suffering from dementia. There are many kids who have dementia as a result of rare diseases even though most people think dementia strikes the elderly.

I know it’s hard to believe that six year old kids like Addi and Cassi have dementia but they do.  It can be very difficult to deal with dementia in children as they don’t remember (or can’t learn) that burners are hot, stairs are steep or cars come up and down the street.  Addi and Cassi were once potty trained and knew their nursery rhymes but then forgot what they learned as a result of their fatal genetic cholesterol condition that is destroying their brains.

As you can imagine, the thought of your children forgetting who you are is very distressing to parents.  There is a lot of grief and sadness and yet little support to deal with your kids losing their minds.

Here are some conditions in children that involve dementia:

  • Adrenoleukodystrophy
  • Alexander disease
  • Autism (Infantile)
  • Batten disease
  • Canavan disease
  • Juvenile Huntington’s disease
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Niemann-Pick Type C
  • Subacute-sclerosing Panencephalitis (SSPE)
  • Tay Sachs disease

The Niemann Pick Disease Group in the UK has written a guide to help parents, teachers and care professionals understand dementia in young people.  But we need more resources written and more educational efforts to bring attention to dementia in the young.  For example, how can school children cope with having a classmate who has a dementing disease like Niemann Pick Type C. Niemann Pick Type C children do have best friends that they may not remember in the future as their fatal condition progresses.

I am going to contact the Alzheimer’s Foundations to see if they are willing write a story about kids and dementia. Maybe if people knew this was happening to children they would care more about dementia or give more to dementia research.



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