Parenting An Anxious Child

Parenting An Anxious Child

Parenting An Anxious Child

Raise your hand if you are parenting an anxious child.  Friend, you are not alone.  Just recently, I posted the following question to a private Facebook group primarily made up of moms.

If you could solve one major problem that you are currently navigating with your child, what would it be?

The answers to that question revealed a lot of common issues that parents are facing.  However, the number one underlying issue these moms were facing?  I’ll tell you:  parenting an anxious child.

I don’t think this comes as a shock with all that is going on in our world these days.  

Whether your child has a formal diagnosis or not, so many of us are parenting at least one anxious child.  

So what can we do when we are parenting an anxious child?

Parenting An Anxious Child

by Lindsay Leiviska | A Heart For All Students

Disclosure:  This post may contains affliliate links.  If you purchase anythink through the affiliate inks, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.  I won’t ever recommend a product that I do not stand behind.  Thank you for your support so I can continue to offer as much free content as possible.

Parenting An Anxious Child

Hope in Numbers?

Knowing that so many of us are parenting an anxious child can actually offer parents hope.

Why should we moms be hopeful when so many children are struggling with childhood anxiety? 

Perhaps the one silver lining of parenting an anxious child is that we know that our children are not alone in this. 

The more we moms speak up about the need to support our anxious kids, the more awareness.  

When we are open with moms and professionals about parenting an anxious child, the more we can work together to best support our kids. 

The Demands Of This World Create Greater Anxiety

The reality is that our children (whether or not they have a diagnosis) are bombarded by so much stimulation. 

Whether through the demands of school work, social pressures and a world-wide virus, kids are stressed out.

Teen Anxiety & Bible Study

On a Saturday morning, I sat with a group of 9th grade girls from my church.  We had just begun a Bible Study about their Identity in Christ. 

Many of these sweet girls shared about their stresses at school.  As I looked around this table of 7 typical teenage girls, it hit me.  

Every single one of them struggled regularly with anxiety.  

Friend, we are not the only ones parenting a child with anxiety. 

Parenting an anxious child in my own home

I understand how debilitating anxiety can be and how much it can negatively impact life. 

Coping with anxiety is hard enough on adults. Pushing through life with anxiety is beyond exhausting. 

As our children begin to show signs of debilitating anxiety in greater numbers, we need to take note.

Signs That You Are Parenting An Anxious Child

You may be thinking,

“I am not parenting an anxious child.  My child is just disobedient and angry.”

Here is the reality. Anxiety in children does not necessarily present the way we often think.

When children are anxious it can show itself in many ways.  If we are not careful, we can exacerbate anxiety.  We need to stop to recognize it. 

How often do we see…

  • A child who is throwing a “temper tantrum”
  • The destructive child who cannot keep his hands to himself
  • A student who appears to be checked out in class
  • Tween girl who is struggling to turn in homework
  • Student who bombs a spelling test that they were confident about the night before
  • The child who complains of headaches and stomach aches
  • A kid who cannot sleep at night

Often in our culture, adults see these types of behaviors as willful.  We demand that a difficult behavior stop without finding the root behind it.

“Stop biting your nails. It is a disgusting habit.”

“Keep your hands to yourself or you will lose recess.”

“You are so irresponsible. You forgot to turn in your homework again!”

“Snap out of it! I told you to pay attention!”

These “difficult” behaviors are most often symptoms of fear, shame, embarrassment and anxiety.

Anxiety Needs To Be Released

Because most children do not have the vocabulary to identify what they are feeling, they often act out negatively. 

These outward symptoms are simply a reflection of those emotions.  

When parenting an anxious child and when we notice these behaviors, we need to pause.  Like us, our children experience thoughts and big feelings daily. 

We must be intentional to see these painful times as opportunities.  We can use these anxiety-driven moments to equip our kids with the tools they need to work through their stress.

childhood anxiety help

4 Simple Tools To Help When Parenting An Anxious Child

Here are 4 of my favorite tools that you can use at home to help your child navigate anxiety well. 

These resources support children in their understanding of their own thoughts and feelings.

When we give our children a vocabulary to describe and understand their physical sensations, thoughts and feelings, we give them an incredible advantage.  

Additional Tools For Parenting An Anxious Child

1. Turn Around

Turnaround: Turning Fear into Freedom by David A. Russ, Ph.D. & Christopher T. McCarthy, M. Ed.

This resource  is phenomenal. 

Several years ago, my oldest daughter suddenly developed severe separation anxiety.   Overnight she became paralyzed with fear and could not leave my side for more than two months.  

Because her fear was so intense, we immediately began Christian counseling.  It was then that her counselor recommended this program.

This is a 10-day program.  Each day includes an audio and workbook component.  The story follows a group of children as they attend camp. Each of the characters struggle with some area of anxiety.

Following the audio session, there are workbook exercises for your child to complete.  There are written and drawing exercises that help kids label and illustrate their fears in various ways.

The fact that the storyline follows a group of kids who understand anxiety is so beneficial.  Children can more easily relate and invest in the strategies provided.  

The strategies introduced to the child equip them to combat the thoughts and feelings that lead to anxiety. This gives these kiddos a greater sense of control.

Personal Success

My daughter was 12 years old when she used this set of materials.  While she was very apprehensive when she started, she felt relief after the first day. By the end of the ten-day program, she was much better able to combat her anxiety.

Turnaround: Turning Fear into Freedom is recommended for children ages 6-13.  I highly recommended it to moms parenting an anxious child.

Praise God that my daughter was quickly diagnosed with PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome).  She was treated  and is back to her old self.  

If you notice sudden-onset severe anxiety, aggression or OCD-type behaviors, please talk to your child’s doctor.  For more about our story with PANS and PANDAS, check out this post.

zones of regulation, emotional regulation in kids

2. The Zones

Zones of Regulation by Leah Kuypers, MA Ed., OTR/L

When parenting an anxious child, using the Zones of Regulation chart can be incredibly helpful.  

The Zones were introduced to me through my son’s developmental pediatrician, Dr. Yasmin Senturias of Atrium Health.  

Dr. Senturias has been a godsend to our family as  we desperately searched for answers for our son.

The Zones of Regulation materials were developed by Leah Kuypers.  She is an Occupational Therapist and has an education background.  

She created this resource as a way to help children learn to develop emotional and self-regulation skills.

The materials are often used in schools as well as in mental health settings.  The Zones are a visual representation of what a child may be experiencing internally at any moment-in-time.

The Zones of Regulation program contains a simple chart.  This chart is made of color bands that represent specific feelings and thoughts.  It is especially helpful for young children who learn well with visual cues.

By giving kids a visual representation and vocabulary for emotional states, they are able to move through tough feelings and bring themselves back to a “regulated state.” Using the Zones, you provide your child the ability to release and communicate that which they are feeling.

This is a wonderful childhood anxiety resource. 

Check out this post where I discuss practical and actionable ways to use this tool at home today.  

anger iceberg

3. The Iceberg

Anger Iceberg

The Anger Iceberg is a visual tool.  It helps children understand the multitude of ways that anger displays itself. 

All adults will benefit from understanding that anger and difficult behavior is just a symptom.  Anxiety and fear is often the root of anger and rage.

By simply discussing the anger terms, parenting an anxious child will be less intimidating.  

Quite frankly, it is important to learn to look behind the your child’s angry behavior.   By doing so, you allow your child to release and process the underlying emotions.   

If we don’t allow our kids the opportunity to understand and verbalize the stressors inside of them, they will come out eventually.   Most often, anxiety and fear will come out in even more destructive ways.  

Choose to discuss a few “anger” terms at a time.  If your child does not know what a term means, explain it.  Share a story from your life that applies to the specific anger word.

Simply engaging in these conversations will deepen connection with your child.  This, My Friend, is the best medicine for anxiety.  There is power in knowledge and relationship.

4. What to Do…

What to Do When You Worry Too Much by Dawn Huebner

This workbook series is an excellent resource to help children navigate many issues including anxiety, complaining, fear, etc.

It is an entire series based on varying issues that children will face throughout life.  It is definitely worth checking out.

Parenting An Anxious Child And Our Kids Identity in Christ

One last thing to note if you are parenting an anxious child.

If you are a Christ-follower, may I encourage you to equip your child with practical knowledge of their identity in Christ?  

We often talk to our kids about their identity in Christ and yet we fail (me included) to clearly explain what that means.  Confusion just adds to fear, right?

Equip your child to know deeply what it truly means to have an Identity based on what God says and not based on what the world tells them.

Download FREE Identity in Christ Printables.  Use them with your kids.  Read them aloud daily, discuss them, and pray them over your child.

For more about helping our kids know what it means to have their Identity in Christ, read this post. 

Friend, let me encourage you.  God has chosen each one of us on purpose to raise our kids during this delicate time.  You are exactly the right mom for your child even when you don’t do it perfectly. 

God doesn’t expect us to do it all perfectly.  So give yourself grace to do the best you can to love your child well during these hard seasons.  

He is in this with you and He loves your child fiercely.  

Would love to hear from you.   We are in this together.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. I appreciate your support.

The Struggling Student & Visual Clutter

The Struggling Student & Visual Clutter

Meltdowns at the thought of “school”?

What does a sticky note have to do with meeting the needs of your struggling student?

Oftentimes, when a child resists school work, they often display their hesitation by shutting down, melting down or worse.  Parents can easily confuse this outward behavior as a willful act of disobedience or “laziness.”   If you are familiar with the mission at A Heart For All Students,you know that I have a different perspective.  I believe firmly that a child’s outward “negative” behaviors are a symptom of an internal problem.  

If a child repeatedly resists learning, I am convinced that this is an indication of a struggling student.  Our kids need us to equip them with what they need in order to learn.  Taking the time to seek the root cause of “poor” behavior is crucial.  Finding the real issue allows us to equip our kids with what they need to succeed.

visual discrimination, learning disabilities, learning challenges, dyslexia, adhd, homeschool

Algebra, word problems and two struggling students

Earlier this week, my daughter and I were working through some word problems in her online Algebra course.  We had just been introduced to a new concept and were slowly putting the pieces together. As we began to attempt to tackle the problems, she and I both began to feel frustrated and overwhelmed at the screen full of text.  

She and I had become, in that moment, two struggling students doing our best to navigate a new concept, read text and then correctly integrate the new material with the element of reading comprehension.

Enter in… a HUGE Post-it note.

Post-it notes & Learning?

Many children and adults struggle with visual discrimination. 

In layman’s terms, visual discrimination is the ability of the brain to tease through all of the input that it receives through the eyes. 

In any given moment, the brain has to process through and zoom in on that which is most important in the particular scenario.

Every decision takes mental effort

By covering up the majority of text on the screen, we were set up to succeed. 

Why?  We did not have to tease through unnecessary visual information in order to focus on what was crucial to the goal.  The goal at that time was to learn the new math concept.  In order to do so, we needed to set ourselves up for success.

In this picture, you see the accommodation that my 14-year-old and I made when having to process and learn a new algebraic concept.

christian moms and teens

Visual Discrimination & Learning

In the case of our algebra lesson earlier that week, when my girl and I became frustrated and snippy at one another, I took that as my cue that we both were struggling students and needed to pivot in some way.  

I grabbed a large post-it and covered the entire screen except for the first line of the first word problem.  

“Read it aloud and let’s process what it is saying,”

I took a deep breath and offered this suggestion to my girl.  Game changer!!!

All About Learning Press

Minimalism in Learning

How many blog posts, books and TV shows cater to this concept of minimalism?  Decluttering? Organization? The answer? Too many to count!

Why are these concepts so popular with adults, particularly adult women and more specifically moms?  

Because by simply removing visual clutter, we as adults find ourselves more peaceful and less anxious.

Visual clutter increases the need to tease through all of the information our brain receives from the environment.  This is an exercise that requires mental capacity.  Every mom knows that mental capacity is a limited resource that must be used wisely.

We must transfer this understanding over to how we equip and support our struggling students.

Homeschool ADHD Cheat Sheet

Remove the barriers

When a child is overwhelmed or feeling even slightly anxious about having to focus on a new or harder concept or skill, the last thing we want is to do is add barriers to learning. 

In the case of a child learning a new math concept or skill, having lots of text or math problems on a page can be a huge barrier to learning. 

What do we do to help our kids improve their skills, acquire and learn new information?  How do we help struggling learners to progress academically?

Take it one step, one line, one problem at a time.  

Instead of an entire sheet of 25 math problems, grab a blank piece of paper and write out one math problem in large text.  That one math problem on a clean sheet of paper is less threatening and now more accessible to your child. Anxiety lessens and the brain is then more available to learn.

I would rather a child do five math problems and learn for the long-term, than have a student fight through tears and stress to finish twenty-five and get only 70% correct.  Small chunks of  intentional teaching over time yield fruit, Friends.  

Our Journey Westward

Equip your struggling student 

The next time your child starts to melt down at the thought of reading or doing math, remember, “Remove the barriers.”

Grab a sticky note and cover up the majority of text on a page and read line by line.  

Write multiplication problems one at a time on a small whiteboard in LARGE text. 

Open The Doors To Learning By Removing Visual Clutter

Remove the barrier and don’t drain your child’s mental capacity by forcing his brain to wade through a bunch of visual clutter before he even attempts the new concept.

Your child innate fight or flight response will be lessened.  Her ability to receive and process new information will be freed up to actually learn and receive the concept. 

Before a child can ever do hundreds of math problems they must be given the opportunity to succeed at a few.  Slowly over time, you can increase the workload if necessary.  

Goals for our Struggling Student

In the end, always remember:  What is my goal?  What is the most efficient and peaceful way to hequip my child to learn and move onto the next level?

Do you have a struggling student?  A child with ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia or other learning difference?  A child who may need a more outside-the-box approach to education?

Your child can succeed when equipped based on his or her God-given wiring.  You will be blown away at how far your child can go when provided with targeted and intentional teaching.

He has a mighty plan for your child.  Never forget that.   You can do this, Momma! 

For extra support as your support your child’s education at home, check out this post of my top teaching tips.  

All About Learning Press
Dyslexia Screening Checklist

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. I appreciate your support.

Encouragement for the Young Girl with Aspergers

Encouragement for the Young Girl with Aspergers

To the Young Girl with Aspergers Syndrome

Just yesterday morning, a dear friend of mine reached out to me.  Her oldest daughter is an 18 year-old college student.  She is also an amazing young lady on Autism Spectrum .  Having grown so much in these past 4 years as a girl with Aspergers Syndrome she wrote a letter to her 14 year-old self.

She has allowed me to share it here for any young girl who feels different and needs this encouragement.  What an honor and my privilege.

For the mom raising a neurodiverse young girl… please share this with your precious creative.  Let’s celebrate the uniqueness of all of our children and allow our girls to thrive as the people God intends them to be.

This post contains Amazon affliliate links.  If you purchase any resources that I recommend using my links, I may receive a small commission from Amazon at no cost to you.  I will not ever recommend any product that I do not stand behind fully.  Thank you for your support so I can continue to offer as much free content as possible to mommas like you and me.  🙂

Dear 14-year-old me,

Well. Four years can certainly make a difference, now can’t it? Seeing your face again brings back a lot of memories, y’know. Makes me realize just how much both the world and I have changed. Time is more of a kiln than a river, in all honesty. Life can and will hurt, yes, but as I look back, I know that I wouldn’t change anything.
Hmm? Advice, you say? Well…let me see. What advice could I give you?
Y’know, in all honesty, I’d say that the best advice I could give you is that you’re not alone.
You’re not broken, or defective, or glitched.
A Young Girl With Aspergers

Popping Balloons

You’re not the only one who’s scared by the sound of balloons popping and gets extremely uncomfortable at parties.
Fortunately, plenty of other girls out there have that same wild fuel for the imagination.  They too navigate those same issues with feeling as if you need to perform in order to be accepted.
In fact, there is a shockingly high amount of people who will completely understand when you try to scurry off to another room to escape the hubbub. There are so many other girls and boys who get this pacifying and focusing effect that music has on you.
There are countless other Aspies who know what it’s like to be drifting off to sleep and suddenly be murmuring out dialogues, solidifying plots and characters before slumber overtakes you.
They too understand what it is like to be trying to do school and suddenly it’s half an hour later, and you have a doodled battle scene and no progress on school whatsoever.
You’re not a weird outcast.
A Young Girl With Aspergers Offers Encouragement

One-of-a-kind Rare

You are one-of-a-kind rare, but not in your troubles. There will always be someone out there who’s gone through the exact same issues with anxiety and feeling as uncontrolled as you, and they understand what it’s like.
  • Keep going.
  • Imagining.
  • Writing.
  • And keep drawing, even though you think you’re no good.
You’ll get to a point one day where you step back, take a good look at your rough draft for a novel and the art you’ve done so far, and you say, 
“This is something that could change someone’s life. There are people out there who need this message, and I have the God-given ability to give it to them. To have a character say something that will stick with a complete stranger and motivate them to make the world a better place.”

God has a Vital Purpose for You

You are FAR from unimportant, younger me. God has put you here for a vital, vital purpose.
There will be perfect strangers who will decide to give life another chance because you spoke the Gospel to them, people you have never seen in person and probably never will who will know you as a beacon of light and hope…if only you keep pushing on.
Fight past your own fears and hatred, and fight past the bullies you’ll run into. Neither of them have any right to have any power over you.

Healing & Inspiration for the Young Girl With Aspergers

You are a juggernaut of healing and inspiration: you can’t and won’t be stopped after you get unleashed on this broken world.
You have God with you for every step of the way no matter what.  His opinion – not any bully’s, not any critic’s, not even your own – is what matters.
You have so, so much power for good in you because God is your king. Use it. Ignore the voices and fears saying you can’t.

Break Down the Walls of Despair

You have been given a gift like no other: so by golly, go be a juggernaut, and break down those walls of despair and darkness threatening people’s souls.
You are a healer and a warrior so powerful that this broken world tried to weaken you  a young girl with Aspergers…but it messed up and just made you even stronger.

Find Your Aspie Army

So find your army to remind you that you’re not alone, and then draw your bow in a world that only knows how to fire slingshots.
You are unique, even when you don’t think so. You are talented, even when you don’t think so. You are never walking your path by yourself, even when you think you are. You are strong, even when you don’t think so.
You are a young girl with Aspergers Syndrome, and you are amazing.
Fight on, young warrior.

Your Older & More Confident Self,


Leigh is an 18 year-old Aspie warrior who’s also learning how ADHD, SPD, and anxiety can all be gifts.  As a college freshman, she is preparing to accomplish her dream of publishing her first self-illustrated novel.  She loves nothing more than helping others see how God celebrates their uniqueness.  

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. I appreciate your support.



PANS/PANDAS Symptoms in My Family

If you have a child and haven’t heard of PANS/PANDAS and the symptoms associated with this devastating syndrome, it is very important that you do.  Last week, I shared the story of my then 12 year-old daughter’s battle with PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndromes).  Her sudden-onset panic, fear, terror and severe separation anxiety stopped our family’s life that summer.  We felt as though we had lost our daughter.  The joyful, fun-loving, social butterfly that we knew had been kidnapped by what we soon learned was a very common bacterial infection.  Mycoplasma or in layman’s terms, pneumonia.  You can read more about our daughter’s story here.  


by Lindsay Leiviska | A Heart For All Students

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you which allows me to continue offering as much free content as possible. I appreciate your support.

Bacteria Playing Hide & Seek

Here is my attempt to explain how a bacteria such as mycoplasma, which causes pneumonia, can cause PANS/PANDAS.  The symptoms that this bacteria and others cause includes drastic emotional or behavioral changes.

Basically, these bacteria (STREP or mycoplasma, for example), play Hide & Seek within the body.   These bacteria can actually imitate or mimic the healthy cells within the body.  They “hide” while pretending to be healthy body cells.  In the time that these bacteria are hiding, they multiply in secret.  The invaders grow and grow until they are finally found once their presence can no longer be hidden from the body’s immune system.   Our immune system actually attacks the healthy cells that the infections have been mimicking in secret.

Sudden Childhood Anxiety

Devastatingly, at that point, the child’s behaviors and emotions take a drastic turn for the worst causing frightening emotional and behavioral symptoms:

  • OCD (this can present as repetitive distressing thoughts)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Severe opposition
  • Aggression
  • Handwriting deterioration
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Obsessions about food
  • Hyperactivity and sudden ADHD-like symptoms
  • and more…
PANS/PANDAS, OCD, Strep, Pneumonia

Forced to Play

This forces parents and doctors to begin the game of Hide & Seek that they did not know they were supposed to be playing.

Adults finally seek out the cause of these severe changes in the child and then often find the bacterial culprit if the proper blood workups are performed.    Click here to access diagnostic workup information.  Please bring this with you to your doctor if you notice symptoms of PANS/PANDAS in your child.  Very often, doctors are not well-versed in the diagnostic criteria for PANS/PANDAS.  

Specifically referring to the STREP bacteria, WebMD describes it this way:

An infection causes your immune system to attack your body’s healthy cells, in this case, cells in the brain. The strep bacteria disguise themselves to look like normal cells. When the immune system eventually finds and fights them, it sometimes also fights the cells that the strep is imitating.

Journey from PANS/PANDAS Symptoms to Diagnosis

Today, I would like to share the story of a sweet friend of mine.   She has and is currently navigating this incredibly rocky road with her own son, who has the trifecta diagnosis of PANS/PANDAS and AE.

According to, AE, Autoimmune encephalitis is:

Autoimmune Encephalitis

Another way to think of PANS PANDAS, as well as any neurodevelopmental disorder such as autism, ADD/ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder and even learning disabilities, is that these disorders may fall under the larger umbrella of autoimmune encephalitis (AE).

Autoimmune encephalitis is a disorder in which the immune system attacks the brain, impairing function.

I am honored to have Heather share her story with you in the hopes that more moms are able to access the appropriate diagnosis for their children who are suffering at the hands of this life-altering and debilitating illness.


When The Diagnosis Doesn’t Fit

Heather’s Story of PANS/PANDAS

It was about 3 years ago when my then 4 year old started changing. We were getting calls from preschool about behavior challenges they were having with him and thought it was best he be evaluated for social/emotional and academic delays. This came as a bit of a punch in the gut as I knew my child had been ahead before this and we always watched him so closely as we have another child on the spectrum.

So why now?

What changed?

Had I missed something?

Could I have been in denial for 4 years?

So we navigated through this new journey of many evaluations, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, specialty Doctor appointments and many diagnoses……. Many!

We would enter one of our toughest seasons yet in parenting. I mean parenting has never been easy and fun for us with our other children, but this season we were entering was the biggest heartache of them all.

As we navigated our way through a very dark valley of medical appointments, wrong diagnosis, the school system, our home life and watching him deteriorate rapidly… I found myself doubting everything especially the vision I knew God had shown me. I was questioning everything I once knew to be true!

Wrong Diagnosis

You see there was a stirring in my gut as I continued to watch my child decline. As I continued to watch him slip away into a darkness I can’t put into words. Our lives forever changed.

So we continued with doctor appointments while searching for answers…….. But not satisfied.

Then there it was one night, almost 2 years later. It was staring back at me on a screen.

All my child’s symptoms listed. Everything…..

Our nightmare described in 1 word… PANDAS. PANS.

How had we missed this?

Why was this not discussed, mentioned?

Why am I the one figuring this out?

I’m just a mom and I am discovering what this is……


PANS Is Not:

  • ADHD / ODD
  • Regressive Autism / PDD-NOS
  • Sensory processing disorder
  • Severe Anxiety with OCD – RAGE
  • Bi polar disorder With hallucinations
  • Anorexia Nervosa

This is PANDA’s… PANS… Our HELL in 1 word, all of our symptoms…

And this is our HOPE! This is our journey to healing!

If you have child with multiple diagnoses please take some time to research PANS/ PANDAS

To learn more about Heather’s story as she navigates her son’s continuing battle with PANS/PANDAS/AE, check out her Facebook page.  Trust in the Journey.  

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Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. I appreciate your support.



Diagnosis: What Is PANS/PANDAS?

With childhood mental illness more prevalent than ever, it is critical that parents be armed with information, particularly as related  to what is PANS/PANDAS.

If a child experiences a sudden and drastic change in behavior and emotions, parents are at a loss.

When the symptoms are anxiety, fear and worry, parents try to reason with their children to help them get through it.

Persistent symptoms often lead moms to seek help from a counselor or other mental health professional.

When that fails to bring relief, they most often seek medical intervention to find healing and at a minimum, a diagnosis.

It is not uncommon for a child to be misdiagnosed over and over again with no improvement in these symptoms.

Even worse, the correct diagnosis of PANS/PANDAS is discovered when it is too late.


by Lindsay Leiviska | A Heart For All Students


According to the Childmind Institute, PANS and PANDAS (two separate but related conditions) are:

PANS and PANDAS are severe forms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that appear suddenly (acute onset) in young children, accompanied by other confusing and distressing symptoms. 

If the onset of these symptoms is linked to a strep infection, it’s called PANDAS — pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections — which is a subgroup of PANS.

Some 86 percent of acute onset OCD cases are linked to strep.

Children especially at risk are those who have… hidden strep infections — that is, children.. can be “carriers” of the (strep) infection but don’t get symptoms themselves, and hence don’t get treatment.

PANS cases have also been linked to other infections, including Lyme disease, mononucleosis,and mycoplasma (walking pneumonia)…


Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you which allows me to continue offering as much free content as possible. I appreciate your support.

PANS Hits Home

Two summers ago, my family was thrust in one of the most frightening experiences of our lives.

Overnight, we lost our 12 year-old daughter.  She lost her joy.

The word horrifying does not do justice for the drastic emotional spiral that my daughter experienced that summer.

Consequently, we were trapped and paralyzed by my daughter’s terror…  wait… what?

Terror?  Yes.  Terror.

Before the Diagnosis

My oldest daughter is one of the happiest and most bubbly people ever.  Really and truly.

She was born with a smile on her face and has always been known for her empathy and heart for others. 

Her zeal for life and hunger for adventure is infectious.  She is the perfect roller-coaster date for her daredevil daddy.

So when my oldest woke up one morning in a state of frozen terror at the thought of leaving me, we knew something was up.

The severity of her sudden separation anxiety and fear demobilized her.   She was consumed with the thought that I would die.

She could not even be in a separate room from me for fear of losing me.

Without a doubt, we were shaken to the core that summer.

More Info About PANS/PANDAS

Desperate Search for Answers

After months of searching for answers, by God’s mercy and intervention, a neighbor stopped by randomly.

For some reason I opened up to her about what had been going on that summer.  She suggested I ask for a Strep test for my daughter.

Yes.  As in Strep throat.

This friend proceeded to tell me that her son had gone through something similar a year prior.

She ended up begging for a Strep test and full workup for her son.  She had heard of a debilitating illness striking children left and right. 

Apparently, it had something to do with the Strep bacteria…

Because she couldn’t find any other logical answers for the fact that her son suddenly couldn’t function away from her, she figured she had to try.

At that point, she brought her son to the pediatrician and it was then that her doctor confirmed it.  Her son was infested with the Strep bacteria (with no symptoms apart from sudden onset of severe anxiety and OCD-like behaviors).

However, this mom like so many others had to FIGHT to get a proper diagnosis for her son’s PANS/PANDAS.

Her son has made a full recovery.   Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

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My Daughter’s PANS/PANDAS Diagnosis

Sadly, the two months of PANS in my home is exactly how so many other moms describe it.

It was HELL.

My daughter was tormented every day by fears and thoughts that she couldn’t stop.   Fears and thoughts of losing me.

My girl spent the entire two months clinging to me and sobbing in fear.

She was so confused about what was happening to her as were her father and I.  No one understood.

Watching her suffer in such emotional turmoil and agony was heartbreaking.

But God…

It is by His grace that my neighbor stopped by my house that Sunday afternoon.

She and I had never really discussed anything personal up to that point.  But for some reason, I felt led to open up about my daughter.

It was then that she shared her story of her son.

I was provided the information I needed to get my child diagnosed. 


PANS/PANDAS: Professional Ignorance

Sadly, we have all heard stories about doctors who dismiss a mom’s cry for help as dramatic and emotionally-charged.

Many doctors try to “poo-poo” the idea of PANS/PANDAS because they don’t know enough about it.

However, our story did not lead us to a dismissive doctor.

Kim Bivens, RN, CPNC, MS and the team of doctors at  Arboretum Pediatrics in Charlotte, NC were amazing.

They took this emotional momma bear seriously.

After hearing my daughter’s symptoms, Kim immediately collaborated with another doctor.

They concluded that a full blood work-up was warranted due to my daughter’s sudden onset of separation anxiety and persistent thoughts (OCD).

Within two days, we had the first of 5 vials of blood back.  My daughter’s blood was flooded with pneumonia (mycoplasma) bacteria.

We had zero indication that she had pneumonia.

The pneumonia bacteria showed itself only through my daughter’s sudden anxiety and fear.

My daughter was immediately treated with low-dose anti-biotics for 30 days and is back to her old self.

Diagnosis PANS/PANDAS Came Soon Enough… for us…

This is not always the case.

Here is the story of another mother fighting for her son finally diagnosed with PANS/PANDAS after 7 misdiagnoses.

Read Heather’s story and learn about her son’s battle with PANS/PANDAS.

The more that we moms share, the more awareness and intervention for our kids.

Community Between Moms Revealed PANS/PANDAS

Friend, it was a brief pop in visit by another mom that was key to helping my child.

Community and mom relationships are crucial for so many reasons.  We need one another.

Let’s be brave and fight for our children regardless of what others think of us.

If your child is showing signs of sudden onset OCD, anger, rage, anxiety, poor penmanship, violence, eating issues.  Get your child seen.

Insist on a simple blood panel for PANS/PANDAS.

Do not take no for an answer.  God chose you to parent your child.  You can do this!!!

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