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  • Writer's pictureCAFF Team


Updated: Feb 13

Episode 39 of the Airway First podcast is now out! You can catch this and all other episodes on Apple, SoundCloud, Podbean, RSS, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. And check us out on YouTube!

Airway First Podcast with Randi-Lee Bowslaugh

My guest today is Randi-Lee Bowslaugh. Randi-Lee was born and raised in Ontario, Canada, and from a young age, she had a passion for helping others. As a teenager, she started writing poetry that would eventually become her first published book (Thoughts of a Wanderer). Her writing became her coping mechanism while depression was starting to take over her life.

After high school, she attended Niagara College and graduated at the top of her class in Community and Justice Services. Though college had seen more good days than bad depression was still very present in her life.

Post-graduation she worked in the social services field for nearly six years before deciding that it was no longer her passion. During this time, she was discovering the joy of kickboxing and became a competitive fighter. She competed internationally on Team Canada twice. Eventually, turning into a coach and personal trainer.

In 2018 she battled cancer and came back with a mission to break the stigma of mental health. Having been battling her own will to continue living she realized that though she had depression, depression didn’t have her.

As a mother to two teenagers, her youngest has autism, she has also experienced feeling helpless to help. Randi-Lee has been through hospital visits and breakdowns with her youngest who has severe anxiety and depression. A question that he continues to ask is “Mom why can’t I be normal?

Not having an answer to this Randi knew that it was time to stand up and speak out. She created the Write or Die Show to empower others to embrace themselves, their struggles, and all. To show that, though mental health is present in many, lives it doesn’t need to ruin your life and we should support each other not break us down.

You can find out more about Randi-Lee at and

We should all be seeing the world through the eyes of others. Sharing our neurodiversities (how our brains process information atypically) to show how we triumph. ~ Randi-Lee Bowslaugh


The connection between a lack of oxygen and mental health in children might not be entirely intuitive for most of us. However, according to a study published by the National Library of Medicine children experiencing long-term childhood airway disorders, such as those with airway dysfunction or sleep apnea, are more likely to experience poor mental well-being or mental health conditions:

  • they will have lower IQs which impacts performance, focus, and self-esteem

  • they have a hard time playing and doing things other children do which impacts their self-esteem and ability to fit in

  • they deal with the fear of not being able to get enough air when playing or doing things other children do

  • they have higher levels of frustration, anger, and anxiety

  • they are often misdiagnosed as having ADHD

  • they experience higher rates of self-loathing, depression, and suicidal thoughts

  • they often have lower self-control and experience bouts of impaired thinking and judgment, personality changes, and memory loss

Mental health plays an important role in a child's overall health. Mental disorders are chronic health conditions that can last for a long time and don't always go away. It is possible for children with mental disorders to have problems at home, at school, and in forming friendships without early diagnosis and treatment. In addition, mental disorders can interfere with a child's healthy development, causing problems that can last into adulthood.

A child who suffers oxygen deprivation and a brain injury often has increased mental health needs due to anxiety and fear. Additionally, other developmental disabilities, learning delays, and cognitive concerns may contribute to the child's difficulties adjusting to life.

According to the US Surgeon General, anxiety disorders, such as those caused by airway dysfunction and sleep issues, are the most common mental health disorders in adolescents. At any given time, one in eight adolescents meets the clinical criteria for an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders in children include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.


Children with depression can exhibit a wide range of symptoms. Symptoms are often misinterpreted as normal emotional and psychological changes, so the condition remains undiagnosed and untreated.

While this is sometimes the case, particularly in younger children, many children show sadness or low mood in the same way that depressed adults do. Sadness, hopelessness, and mood changes are some of the primary symptoms of depression.

A child struggling with mental issues as a result of an airway disorder will exhibit the following signs:

  • Detachment

  • Unresponsiveness or resistance to comforting

  • Excessive inhibition (holding back emotions)

  • Social withdrawal or a sudden tendency to keep to themselves

  • Failure to seek affection from caregivers and other people

  • Crankiness or anger

  • Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness

  • Being more sensitive to rejection

  • Changes in appetite, either increased or decreased

  • Changes in sleep (sleeplessness or excessive sleep)

  • Vocal outbursts or crying

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Fatigue and low energy

To help a child suffering from depression, anxiety, or autism, teach them the words to use to help to express themselves and allow them to name their emotions when they happen. Make notes of what your child expresses in your journal so you can share it with their physician.

Show Notes:


Education is the first step for any parent who might be concerned about their child's mental and physical health.

The Children's Airway First Foundation Resource library has information that can aid in identifying symptoms and providing guidance on the first steps towards helping your child with an airway disorder.

As with any medical condition, consult your child's pediatrician should you see any of these symptoms in your child or if you suspect your child is suffering from an airway disorder.

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