The youngest of two girls living in the same apartment complex in Beijing has had to leave home for two weeks to attend medical school, the first of her three children to be diagnosed with sleep apneas.
The girl, who asked to remain anonymous, said she was first diagnosed with narcolepsy, which causes muscle and joint stiffness, in March.
The condition causes sufferers to lose concentration and falls asleep quickly.
“When I started sleeping and waking up, it was so bad, I couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t sleep,” the girl said.
“It was just so stressful and annoying.”
The family of the girl who went into school has been trying to get the child to stay home for six months, she said.
She said the family was worried that the girl would be bullied at school, but has also noticed a rise in her classmates who are suffering from the condition.
“They’re more quiet, they’re more relaxed, and they talk more, too,” she said of her classmates.
“But they still don’t understand.”
The girl’s sister said her sister had had to go to the police for help.
“She has been in a panic, she’s scared to go back home because of the stigma,” she told the Associated Press.
“Her friends and family are all so worried.”
The child was diagnosed with the disorder in December, and the family is worried that they will never be able to afford the medical fees she needs.
“I can’t pay for the rent and she can’t afford the medicine,” the mother said.
The family’s medical expenses will be covered by the school.
The case is now being handled by the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
The government has made efforts to improve sleep in the country, including making it easier for parents to enroll their children in classes, but the Chinese government is facing criticism for the lack of resources and funding to deal with the epidemic.