By Taryn Lawlis
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – A presentation on sleep and special needs this week at Camden County College informed students and staff members about the ways that sleep can affect people with neurological needs.
“Sleep and Special Needs” took place as a substitute for “ADHD, epilepsy, learning disabilities, oh my!” at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 10 in the Civic Center on the Blackwood campus. The lecture concluded a series of five workshops about autism this semester.
Dr. Ralph Gallo, a sleep physician at Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health, explained how sleep affects people with neurological needs and how doctors treat the problems.
The more difficult their sleep is, the more issues that people with neurological needs have during the day, Gallo said. The difficulties can include anxiety, depression, sleepiness, obesity, high blood pressure and attention problems.
But treatments can help, Gallo said.
“Medication is sometimes very useful under the right circumstances. You always have to weigh benefits and risks, explain treatment options carefully to patients and respect their decisions. There are non-medicine treatments which we always try to use first – natural remedies, bright light therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, education on improving sleep hygiene, etc.,” Gallo said. “But each case is individual and the sleep doctor needs to discuss best options.”
Gallo said he treats patients ages 3 and older.
“Young children sometimes are anxious or fearful if they have to do a sleep study. Adolescents have to gain your trust and buy into what you say for them to cooperate in their own health care. Adults are sometimes set in their ways and are not always compliant with treatment. Fortunately most children, adolescents and adults are easy to deal with when you gain their trust,” Gallo stated.
About 30 people attended the presentation. “Fifty-three people registered,” said Jennifer Hoheisel, coordinator of the Autism Initiative.
“It took me about a month of phone calls and e-mails to put together the five-workshop series we run each fall and each spring,” Hoheisel said.
Dr. Sarah Woldoff, who was originally scheduled to speak, had to take an emergency trip overseas. She will return to speak at the Blackwood campus next fall. Gallo said he was asked to substitute for her a few days before the presentation.
“I am glad I gave the presentation as it was enjoyable and the audience was very receptive,” Gallo said. “Hopefully I will be asked back for another topic.”