Read about one family’s journey of how they handled their daughter’s inability to attend in-person school full time and ultimately weaving together a partial in-school and homebound instruction program.
My daughter developed PANS in 5th grade quickly. It was a Sunday, to be exact. We didn’t have the diagnosis for another year plus, so not understanding what was happening and concerned about attendance and truancy, I pulled her out of public school to homeschool. We are in PA; the process is quite simple. I notified the school with an affidavit of my intent, along with some required info.
By 6th grade, still no diagnosis, but doctors on board with “something is wrong,” we had a letter from the pediatrician that she would miss a lot of school. I asked for a 504 plan; they set one up within a few weeks. She missed 56 days. Each time she was absent, I would notify the doctor, and monthly, they would send an excuse to the school noting the dates she was absent as medically necessary.
By 7th grade, she couldn’t attend school at all. She went the first 2 days and done. Concerned that 7th grade was more “important” than 5th, I didn’t want to homeschool again. I talked with the pediatrician again, and they wrote a letter that she needed medical homebound. The school was fairly accommodating (I thought) and offered their online program instead. We took that; it was a disaster. Basically, she was responsible for teaching herself and turning in work. Within a few weeks, I met with the school and advocated for homebound instruction. They sent a teacher to the house 2 x a week, 1 hour each time, for a total of 2 hours a week. It wasn’t enough, but after fighting with the school, it’s all we got. We pretty much homeschooled/homebound taught that year.
During the summer between 7-8th grade, we found a great doctor who diagnosed and treated for PANS, and by 8th grade, she was ready to attend school. She could not handle the whole day, so once again, the pediatrician and PANS doctor both wrote letters for abbreviated days, with homebound. She would begin school at 10:15 am instead of 7:20 am. She was missing 2 classes (and homeroom), so once again, homebound was put in place to make up those 2 classes, 2 x a week, 1 hour a day. Now we have a late start each day, but she is in school for a few classes a day, and then for two classes, she receives homebound instruction. It is important to weave together both in school and remote learning supports. Although it’s not a typical day, this is working well for us. I think it is crucial to have doctors that are on your side.
Learn more about PANS PANDAS in the school setting. PANS PANDAS is a medical condition in which symptoms affect a student’s ability to attend school and learn.