Toolkit – PANS/PANDAS Guidelines for Children with Autism

ASPIRE’S Professional Advisory Board publishes PANS/PANDAS Guidelines for Children with Autism

Autism PANS PANDAS aspire
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No one should be denied a proper evaluation of PANS PANDAS. Members of the ASPIRE Professional Advisory Board have written PANS/PANDAS Guidelines for Children with Autism because too often, the medical conditions of children with autism are overlooked and dismissed as “just the autism,” but children with autism are at risk for the same medical conditions as children without autism, including PANS PANDAS. This informational packet discusses the unique challenges of diagnosing PANS PANDAS in kids with autism, what it can look like in the school setting, the PANS diagnostic criteria, and treatment guidelines. Please share this information; let’s work on having children properly diagnosed and treated, so we do not consign them to a lifetime of mental health issues.

PANS PANDAS Guidelines  Autism ASPIRE


To Download: Click the button below to download the eight-page information packet – ASPIRE PAB PANS/PANDAS Guidelines for Children with Autism. Register with ASPIRE to download this information packet.

Autism PANS Guidelines

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Children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD or autism) are at risk for the same medical conditions as children without autism. Therefore, they are susceptible to developing Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal infections (PANDAS). However, diagnosing PANS and PANDAS can be more challenging in children who have autism because of the overlapping clinical presentations. For example, ritualized, repetitive behaviors are common to both disorders, so to make a diagnosis of PANS or PANDAS in a child with ASD, there must be an abrupt and discernable change in behavior such as new rituals, restricted food or fluid intake, excessive irritability or a worried/anxious appearance.

  • If a child has sudden regressive autism, they should be evaluated for PANS/PANDAS.
  • If a child has sudden worsening of symptoms associated with autism, they should be evaluated for PANS/PANDAS.
  • If a child with autism has new behaviors or symptoms that correspond to the PANS/PANDAS diagnostic criteria, they should be evaluated for PANS/PANDAS.
Important to note: Because of the sudden change in behavior, children with and without autism are often referred for psychiatric care without consideration of PANS/PANDAS. As a result, these children may be misdiagnosed and/or receive the wrong treatment.

ASPIRE Professional Advisory Board Contributing Authors:
  • Susan Swedo, MDScientist Emerita National Institute of Mental Health
  • Nancy H. O’Hara, MD, MPH, FAAP- Integrative Pediatrics, New England Center of Health
  • Sydney Rice, MD, Msc – Developmental Pediatrics, Co-Director Childhood Autoimmune Encephalopathy Clinic, University of Arizona
  • Anu French, MD, FAAP, ABoIM – Integrative Pediatrician SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Pediatrics
  • Fern Aaron Zagor, LCSW, ACSW – Principal Consultant, Fern Zagor, LLC

Click for more information about the ASPIRE Professional Advisory Board.

Also, see:

PANS PANDAS & Autism Flyer

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