PANS and PANDAS
We’re observing a number of children diagnosed with PANS and PANDAS.
PANS, or Paediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome, occurs when children suddenly develop intense neuropsychiatric symptoms like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), tics, anxiety, and mood swings. Children with PANS might undergo sudden behavioural changes, including fears, obsessions, or compulsions. They may also display physical symptoms like sleep problems, irritability, and sensitivity to stimuli.
PANDAS, or Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders – associated with streptococcal infections – is a subset of PANS. It occurs specifically when neuropsychiatric symptoms are triggered or exacerbated by a streptococcal infection. Its symptoms are similar to PANS, PANDAS presents with sudden and severe neuropsychiatric symptoms like OCD, tics, anxiety, and mood swings. However, these symptoms are directly linked to streptococcal infections.
One issue families are facing is that, due to a lack of familiarity with the condition, they have been falsely linked to Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII), a rare form of child abuse where a parent exaggerates or causes illness symptoms in their child. PANS PANDAS UK has produced a document to address this confusion. Working with Cathleen Long, an independent social worker and co-author of the British Association of Social Work’s practice guidance on FII and Perplexing Presentations, PANS PANDAS UK has written a guide for social work, healthcare, and education professionals.
This guide explains why many PANS and PANDAS families are unfairly accused of harming their child. It explores what professionals can do differently to ensure all children are kept safe without unfairly targeting families with medical conditions. It gives recommendations on how professionals can collaborate and assess children with symptoms of these post-infectious disorders in a trauma-informed way.
The guidance can be found: