(CHATHAM, ON) – Do you know a child suffering from anxiety, obsessive compulsive symptoms, food restriction, or motor or vocal tics? According to Dr Susan Swedo, the chief of paediatrics and developmental neuroscience at the US National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 200 children with those and other symptoms could be suffering from a misdirected immune response causing inflammation in their brain, also known as PANDAS/PANS.
Swedo was the keynote speaker at Chatham’s Club Lentina on May 9 and presented to a crowd of over 200 in a discussion of symptoms and treatment options. Local paediatrician, Dr Wendy Edwards, presented alongside of Swedo.
“PANDAS/PANS Ontario wanted to couple Dr Swedo and Dr Edwards as speakers because they are both leading experts with an excellent understanding of this little known disorder and are so compassionate about advocating on behalf of the children who are suffering,” said Kerry Henrikson, the ED of PANDAS/PANS Ontario.
Amelia Vilaranda, whose child Julian suffers from the disorder, knew she had to pitch-in to make the symposium happen shortly after her son was diagnosed.
“Without the help of Dr Edwards I wouldn’t have my child back,” she said. “It wasn’t until Dr Edwards started treating him that we saw gains in what we initially thought was a traditional mental illness. In the end, it was all trigged by a strep infection.”
Her son Julian also addressed the crowd.
“Funding is always an issue, but once we met with Chatham-Kent Children’s Services, the staff at Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, Handy Bros Climate Care, Medical Health Place Health Solutions, and especially my fellow colleagues at Ursuline College, we knew a Canadian symposium could not only happen, but we could make it happen right here in Chatham,” said Vilaranda.
In addition to the symposium, Dr Swedo followed up with a visit to the London Health Sciences Centre as well as the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance on May 10.