Tri-State mother hopes to raise awareness about PANDAS - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Tri-State mother hopes to raise awareness about PANDAS

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The local mother says she noticed her son's neat handwriting even became difficult to read. The local mother says she noticed her son's neat handwriting even became difficult to read.

A local mother speaks out Tuesday night, hoping to raise awareness about PANDAS. It's an auto-immune disorder found in children after untreated infections. 

PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus.

14 News spoke with a pediatric psychologist who says there's been some controversy in medical fields about whether or not PANDAS is an actual disorder, but that psychologist, and a mother we spoke with, want to make sure parents know what signs to look for.

"I was completely depressed, devastated. It was the worst thing I've ever been through hands-down," says Kelli Rausch, whose son was diagnosed with PANDAS. 

Rausch tells 14 News that her then 10-year-old son, Daren, was away at camp in the summer of 2009, when a counselor called his father to come pick him up.

"A whole list of symptoms. He'd retrace steps, walk in and out of doorways a certain way, recheck items," Rausch says.

Rausch says all of a sudden her outgoing son developed obsessive behaviors, constantly calling his dad and worrying about him. She says her son's neat handwriting even became difficult to read.  

At one point, she says symptoms became so bad that Daren didn't even recognize her.

"His dad and I said, 'You know, where is our child?'" Rausch says.

Rausch says that after a long summer full of CAT scans and doctors' visits, she researched PANDAS and a blood test showed Daren's blood test results for strep were off the charts.  She says Daren did have a sore throat that quickly went away a few months before.

"Apparently that was the strep and we didn't even know it," Rausch says.

St. Mary's Pediatric Psychologist Dr. Sandy Bowersox says in some cases, signs of anxiety are present in a child before a strep infection, but she says other cases the on-set of OCD is very sudden.

"I've seen enough evidence that it makes me concerned about these cases and that I really will alert suspicions of the possibility that it could be PANDAS," Dr. Bowersox says.

Rausch tells 14 News that she wants to help educate parents about PANDAS.

"Help any family and child go through that dramatic, completely devastating situation then I'll be happy," Rausch says.

She says her son was treated with an antibiotic and recovered completely in a couple weeks.  

Dr. Bowersox says that in some cases, children will need both medical treatment and treatment from a psychologist to help with symptoms of OCD.

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