Webinar – Sheilah Gauch – Understanding and Managing Caregiver Trauma Associated with PANS PANDAS

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Speaker: Sheilah Gauch, LICSW, M.Ed

Webinar: Understanding and Managing Caregiver Trauma Associated with PANS PANDAS

Register for this webinar: Watch on Demand


In this presentation, we will look closely at the barriers that caregivers of children with PANS/PANDAS face trying to care for and support their children. Naming these persistent barriers gives meaning and understanding to why caregivers often experience complex trauma and PTSD.  We will also examine the neuroscience behind anxiety/stress/trauma to understand the why behind the fight, flight, or freeze response that caregivers often experience. By understanding the complex trauma that caregivers face, they can learn to manage these responses to care for themselves and also be more present to advocate and access care for their children.

About Sheilah Gauch, LICSW, M.Ed

Sheilah Gauch is the Principal and Clinical Director of Dearborn Academy, a therapeutic day school that services students with social/emotional and learning needs. I am a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, licensed Principal, and Special Education Administrator with over 20 years of experience working with and advocating for students with complicated mental health needs.

In addition to her work with students, Sheilah engages with caregivers, districts, and mental health professionals through consultation, training, and public speaking. She is the co-founder and partner of Bridge Consultants, a group dedicated to diagnosing and treating treatment-resistant mental illness and neuroimmune conditions. Highlights of Sheilah’s work include trainings on Caregiver/Parent Trauma, How to Support Students Through Understanding the Neuroscience of Anxiety, and Understanding PANS/PANDAS through Massachusetts Partnership For Youth as well as Georgetown Medical School, Boston College School of Social Work, and the Federation for Children with Special Needs.

Sheilah has two of her own children, whose mental health issues were ultimately diagnosed as PANS/PANDAS. Since this diagnosis, she has become an advocate for ensuring children receive the appropriate medical rule-outs and subsequent treatment. Sheilah co-led the creation of the Massachusetts Coalition for PANS/PANDAS Legislation which successfully championed the passage of both an insurance mandate for the sickest children with this illness in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as well as established a DPH PANS/PANDAS Advisory Council, where she serves as the co-chair.  She is also a board member of the Alex Manfull Fund and helped establish a national legislative advocacy group, National Alliance for PANS/PANDAS Action (NAPPA). Sheilah received the 2020 Commonwealth Heroine Award for her work on the PANS/PANDAS Legislation Advisory as well as her role as the chair of her local Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC).

Read Sheilah Gauch’s articles on Psychology Today.

Caregivers aren’t trying to be difficult. They are terrified. They are standing sentinel protecting their children and their strong, emotional, fear-based responses may feel out-sized. These reactions will likely confound professionals trying to help their children. When we understand that these are trauma responses, we can better lead with empathy and compassion to support them. Supporting them is critical if we hope to help their children. – Sheilah Gauch, LICSW, M.Ed



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