I’m always looking out for things to help families and I caught an article on this – so I looked it up. There is indeed a Condition that can cause sudden, distressing and inexplicable changes in a child’s behaviour.
The Condition is known as PANS (“Paediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome”) or PANDAS (“Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections”) and comes on quite suddenly.
[In English, this translates into an infection that triggers an Autoimmune or Auto-inflammatory Disease that leads to a number of behavioural symptoms.]
Here are some of the symptoms from the PANS/PANDAS website.
An abrupt, acute, dramatic onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder or severely restricted food intake
“Parents describe the day of onset as the day they lost their child. Typically, the change is dramatic, with symptoms developing within a 24- to 48-hour period. The OCD symptoms and/or eating restrictions begin so suddenly that most parents can recall the exact day and time that the OCD or restrictive eating began.”
The trouble, of course, is that symptoms like this could also be behavioural or down to mental health issues, but sometimes the change is so complete and so dramatic that it’s completely inexplicable.
FOR A PATIENT TO BE DIAGNOSED WITH PANS, SHE OR HE MUST HAVE THE FOLLOWING:
1. An abrupt, acute, dramatic onset of OCD [Obsessive Compulsive Disorder] along with a fixation about food [mainly about not eating it!].
2. At the same time similarly severe and sudden onset of at least 2 of the following:
3. The Symptoms are not better explained by a known neurologic or medical disorder
4. Any Age can be affected
NOTE: Often accompanied by a sore throat
MORE BIZARRE SYMPTOMS
One of the more bizarre issues I’ve had parents mention to me is trouble with SOCKS! This is a Sensory issue where the child is complaining of the ‘feel’ of the socks on the skin and going through 6 or 7 pairs every morning because none of them feels right.
Another is SUDDEN SEPARATION ANXIETY where, out of the blue, they don’t want to go to school. Went yesterday. Won’t go today. [Be careful, this could also be down to bullying or other school-related reasons.]
An article in Good Health [Daily Mail Tuesday 30th October] talks about a ‘perfectly normal, happy little girl, loving her first year at school and enjoying life as only a lively four-year-old can.’
“Overnight, Evie became a different girl” recalls her mother Helen, a physiotherapist from Barnsley. Evie became irritable and began to have frequent temper tantrums. She also developed strange sensory issues, driven to distraction by the way her socks felt on her skin.
Then, to add to her woes, Evie developed tonsillitis, which it seemed like, was the last thing the family needed. But, the existence of the infection, and the remarkable effect of the antibiotic Amoxicillin she was prescribed, were vital clues no one would pick upon for four long years.
THIS IS THE THING that struck me: Within two days of starting the antibiotics, her behaviour went back to normal. “We Literally got our little girl back.” said her mother.
PANS/PANDAS was first identified in 1998 by scientists at the U S National Institute of Mental Health. They were actually studying OCD in children and noticed a group for whom this had appeared ‘overnight and out of the blue’
It seems that PANS/PANDAS is largely not picked up on by GP’s because the symptoms could also be other conditions. I’ve certainly known families where this could be a possibility worth investigating.
If you’re interested to know more, the PANS website is:
For the diagnostic-guidelines page, see here:
This is just a heads-up on the fact that PANS/PANDAS exists with a caution that your child may have other reasons for the behaviour too. For example, I’m also currently doing some research on the dangers of Screen-time/Social Gaming and Social Gambling.
As always, keeping my ear to the ground and being one-step ahead. For you.
I hope you find it useful.