PANS Rocks!  Come Join the Fun!  Paint Rocks and Spread Awareness!

ASPIRE spoke with Michelle Dowd, who has started a fun project for kids with PANS/PANDAS that also helps spread awareness, and we are happy to share it with you. We think this is the cutest project. Go for a walk, pick some rocks, come home, and paint to your heart’s content. And paint anything you want; you don’t have to paint a panda bear. Thank you for sharing this project with us, Michelle.

I hope during this time, when many kids are home from school due to COVID-19, that you will participate in this project. – Best, Gabriella True

My name is Michelle Dowd, and I live in Liverpool in the UK. I live with my husband- Mathew, 10-year-old daughter- Skye, and 4-year-old son, Lochlan. I also have two stepdaughters, Eve-11 and Faye-9. 

Back in April of 2019, Lochlan, who was three at the time, woke up one morning, and it was as if he was a completely different child. Gone was the happy, confident, cheeky, mischief filled little boy, and in his place was an anxious, sad, OCD encompassed shadow. We had no idea what was going on. We wracked our brains, as did his nursery teachers, to think of an incident that may have happened at home or nursery to upset him and cause him distress, but we couldn’t come up with anything. He refused to eat, began having hallucinations, started performing rituals, hated being out of the house, worried constantly, suffered from sleep disturbance, and would not leave my side. I began to research what may be wrong and came across PANS/PANDAS. I knew instantly that this was what he had! He ticked off all the boxes in the diagnostic criteria. 
As I began to research how to get a diagnosis and treatment, I found PANDAS UK.  With the help of their FB group and the other ‘Warrior’ parents, I managed to get my son referred to a paediatric Neurologist in December 2019; who was able to diagnose and treat Lochlan. I’m very aware of the fact that we were very lucky to have a PANS/PANDAS aware doctor in our area. 
After learning how many families are in distress, due to lack of diagnosis, support, and treatment, I thought of a fun and effective way to raise awareness of this condition across the world. So I set up the group PANS/PANDAS Warriors Rock.

 The idea is simple and fun. You paint a picture on the rock and include the name of the FB group on the back. Then take a picture to post to the group and hide them for other people to find! It’s an activity that the whole family can get involved in; it gives children a voice and encourages them to get out of the house. 

Lochlan has disturbed sleep as many kids with PANS PANDAS do. I was advised that doing a fine motor manipulative activity prior to bedtime could help with sleep. This activity has been perfect for that! So maybe it will help your child with their sleep issues.

Hopefully, the rocks will travel the world, raising awareness of a, not rare but rarely diagnosed condition. We are hoping that more and more doctors start to look into this as a possibility and offer the correct treatment, rather than automatically diagnosis autism, ADHD, and mental health conditions without delving any deeper and to get the NHS/insurance companies, etc. to recognise the condition. 

Everyone is welcome to join the group, the more people who join and join in, the better. Thank you to ASPIRE for highlighting the PAN/PANDAS Rocks Group. We hope that people from all countries will participate and paint with us!  

Let’s get our children treated and well again!

Best, Michelle Dowd

“I hope this helps other kids like me.” – Glory

One of our New Jersey families has joined the rock painting fun! Check out these rocks painted by Glory, a nine-year-old with PANS/PANDAS! They are hidden around New Jersey. I wonder who will find them!




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