Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome or PANS is a rare, but serious condition that occurs in children with autism at a higher rate than in neurotypical children.
PANS is very similar to PANDAS but it’s different in one very important way: the underlying cause of the condition is unknown.
Symptoms of PANS
The most telling symptom of PANS is the acute onset. Symptoms come on very rapidly, seemingly overnight. One day your child is fine and the next day they’re definitely not. If you can pinpoint the day your child’s symptoms began you’ll be more successful identifying the condition’s root cause.
PANS presents with both physical and psychological symptoms.
- Tics and unusual vocalizations
- Sensitivity to lights, sound, and touch
- Deterioration of small motor skills or handwriting
- Hyperactivity or an inability to focus
- Memory problems
- Trouble sleeping
- Refusing to eat, which can lead to weight loss
- Joint pain
- Frequent urination and bedwetting
- Obsessive, compulsive, and repetitive behaviors
- Separation anxiety, fear, and panic attacks
- Incessant screaming, irritability, and frequent mood changes
- Emotional, behavioral, and developmental regression
- Depression and suicidal thoughts
Because PANS requires a clinical diagnosis, there is no definitive test to identify it. Instead, your health care provider will test for a variety of issues that can help pinpoint the cause of the problem.
Your health care provider may:
- Test for strep
- Test for Antistreptolysin O antibodies (ASO)
- Check your child’s DNA antibodies
- Perform an EEG
- Request a sleep study
PANS or PANDAS require the help of a provider or professional who has experience treating these conditions regularly. Treatment usually follows a three-pronged approach.
- Treat infection
- Manage inflammation in autoimmunity with steroids or NSAIDS
- Manage the symptoms individually
Sleep can also be a big issue for children with PANS. To treat this we can use natural interventions like melatonin, magnesium, or 5-HTP. It’s important to address sleep if that is an issue because a well rested child will recover more quickly.
Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing a great job.
I hope this information has been helpful to you as part of creating Your Autism Game Plan.
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