A Massachusetts teenager and his family are struggling against a rare disorder known as “Sleeping Beauty” syndrome.
Connor Dirks, 13, was diagnosed six months ago with Kleine-Levin syndrome -- an extremely rare neurological disorder that’s plagued him for about two years.
The condition causes an otherwise normal individual to sleep for between 16 and 20 hours each day on average. Connor's parents say he sometimes sleeps for 26 hours straight. On occasion, sufferers will sleep for up to months at a time.
There’s no known cause, no definitive treatment and no cure for the disease. Instead, patients and their families play an often torturous waiting game. On average, those who suffer from the condition deal with it for about 8 years.
Sleeping Beauty syndrome is often misdiagnosed as another condition like depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. It typically takes about 4 years just for the correct diagnosis.
Generally, the syndrome will begin spontaneously during adolescence. The majority of cases are discovered in boys and men between the ages of 6 and 59. It is found in about four times as many males as it is females.
An aggressive, erratic behavior often goes hand-in-hand with the disease. Connor's family says that is one of the hardest parts for them.
“He accused my husband of trying to kill him one day,” his mother said. “I’ve been slapped across the face, I’ve been kicked. I’ve been hit. And if Connor even knew he was doing that, he’d be horrified.”
There’s no proof the disorder is hereditary, but doctors believe it may be linked to an auto-immune disorder.