I’ve been meaning to write a post about PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus) for a while, but I think this recent article in The Boston Globe by Neil Swidey does a much better job of describing it than I could. PANDAS, which is characterized by a sudden onset of OCD-like symptoms, is also characterized by a good deal of controversy within the medical community. Because PANDAS is believed to be caused by a strep infection, the treatment is not Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; it’s antibiotics.
What I find most interesting about the article is not only the string of misdiagnoses, but how the correct diagnosis was finally made. The sick child’s mother was thumbing through a magazine and came across an article about PANDAS. She knew then and there that her son was suffering from this disorder. The health professionals that had treated her son had missed the mark. One had never heard of PANDAS, another diagnosed him with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and yet another suggested anorexia nervosa. Neither of these diagnoses really made sense to the mom, and then luckily, she read about PANDAS.
This story illustrates how important it is for parents to trust their instincts when it comes to their children. Nobody knows your child as well as you do, and nobody cares about him or her as much as you. If a diagnosis doesn’t seem right to you, there’s probably a good chance it isn’t. To me this article is also a great reminder of why we must spread the word about PANDAS, OCD, or other illnesses that are uncommon, misunderstood, or difficult to talk about. In some way, shape or form, we just might connect with people who will recognize themselves (or their child) and then go on to get the appropriate help.