Taking the time to communicate and collaborate as a team is a key part of ensuring a PANS student’s success.
PANS recovery is not a straight trajectory. PANS is relapsing and remitting, and there can be setbacks during periods of treatment and healing. Communication helps the team (parents, school staff, therapists, doctors, etc.) assess how the patient/student is doing and what courses of action the team needs to take. The school team may include teachers, nurse, and social worker but may also need to extend to include occupational, speech, and physical therapists, and staff that can support executive functioning and social skills support.
“The identification of PANDAS symptoms in the school setting requires a cooperative effort. Any teacher who comes in contact with a child should be alert for sudden behavioral changes… Open and ongoing home – school communication may be essential.”
PANDAS in the School Setting by Kathy O’Rourke, MA School Nurse News-2003
Sometimes the school is the first to identify signs of an oncoming flare. When the team is aware of changes in the student’s symptoms, the team is better equipped to assess and implement supportive strategies.
- The school team (teachers, staff, therapists, specialists, nurse) must communicate with each other to share and learn strategies to support the student.
- Parents and school should report any changes in physical, emotional and/or behavioral symptoms including but not limited to changes in school performance, behavior, eating habits, urinary frequency, tics, etc.
- Schools should frequently check on the student to see how they are doing. Health checks help establish trust and collaboration between the student and teacher as well as inform the teacher and parents on the student’s health status.
- School should communicate with student consistently about expectations and how to utilize accommodations. Also, teachers should provide positive feedback on the student’s efforts and accomplishments.
- School should inform parents of any communicable illness in classrooms.
- Parents should inform the school nurse of any health changes.
- Parents should communicate with staff about specific behavioral health interventions utilized in therapy and at home so the school can reinforce them. Communication between therapists and school may be necessary.
- Parents should communicate with the school nurse and staff about specific medical issues and treatments to help plan appropriately for absences and/or new issues that affect schoolwork.