PANS Australia: Multidisciplinary Approaches

Conference Agenda

5th June 2021 (AEST)

PANS Australia and Stepping Stones Therapy for Children worked together to host an online conference on PANS and Multidisciplinary Approaches on Saturday June 5th, 2021 (Australian Eastern Standard Time – AEST).

The PANS Australia Multidisciplinary Conference featured nationally and internationally renowned experts from a range of fields including neurology, psychiatry, paediatrics, clinical psychology, occupational therapy and naturopathy. Professionals and parents of children with PANS are welcome to attend.

All profits made from the conference will be donated to PANS research being undertaken by Professor Russell Dale at the Kids Neurosciences Centre at the Children’s Hospital Westmead. All presentations are being recorded and tickets holders will have on-demand access from the 21st June until the 20th December.

*8.55-9.00am (AEST) MC opening remarks – Lynn Jenkins

Lynn Jenkins is a Clinical Psychologist, Author and Educator. For over 20 years she has specialised in child anxiety, early intervention and the parent-child connection. Lynn is the designer of Boss Brain, a 10-week digital program that uses bio-technology to help kids navigate big emotions. She is also an established author. Her book series’ helps kids explore the ‘hard stuff to talk about’ like anxiety, perfectionism and grief. Lynn wears the added hats of mum of three, business owner, hypnotherapist, mindfulness teacher, presenter and regular expert for Body + Soul and Kidspot.

*9.00-10.00am (AEST) PANS/PANDAS: Definition and causes

Dr Kiki Chang, Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist; Former Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; Co-Founder, Stanford PANS Clinic and Research Program, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, USA.

Presentation summary: PANS/PANDAS are syndromes that are becoming increasingly recognized in youth.  In this presentation I will review the diagnostic criteria, how they were decided upon, and the spectrum of diagnoses that fall under this category.  Next, I will discuss the proposed underlying etiology and pathophysiology, including infection and inflammation/autoimmunity and the effects on brain circuity, and provide the evidence to support this. Finally, treatment recommendations will be briefly introduced, following the PANS Research Consortium published expert consensus guidelines.

Dr Chang is kindly donating his speaker fee for the conference to the Stanford PANS Clinic and Research Program.

*10.00-11.00am (AEST) Immune-Brain interactions beyond autoimmunity: Epigenomics, inflammation and microglia

Professor Russell Dale, Professor of Paediatric Neurology, University of Sydney and Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Professor Russell Dale is an internationally recognised expert in child neurology research with a specific interest in the role of the immune system in neurological disorders. He has a clinical and laboratory research program investigating immune-brain interactions with relevance to encephalitis, neurodevelopment and neuropsychiatry. He has published 270 peer reviewed publications, is a holder of an NHMRC Investigator Award, and is Head of the Clinical school at Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

Presentation summary: The role of the immune system in neurodevelopment is gathering attention and evidence from animal models and human studies. Neurodevelopment is very active during the first years of brain development. The immune system exists in the brain, in the form of microglia cells, which are immune cells and constitute 10% of all brain cells. The microglia are involved in synaptic ‘pruning’- how brain cells communicate with each other. The talk will discuss how the immune system can interact with the brain, and how inflammatory factors during pregnancy and early life can alter brain development. The PANS and PANDAS concept has been controversial- the question remains- is PANS/PANDAS a distinct disorder, a specific autoimmune or immune disorder, or instead does the PANS/PANDAS phenotype represent an interaction between the environment (including infection), the immune system and the brain?

*11.15am-12.15pm (AEST) An integrative approach to PANS: Supporting optimal immune function through nutrition

Dr Leila Masson; Sydney based specialist paediatrician and author of “Children’s Health A-Z” a parent’s guide to natural therapies for common childhood ailments. Dr Masson specialises in nutritional and environmental medicine for children’s health issues, including allergies, asthma, behavior problems, autism spectrum disorders and ADHD. She sees patients at her clinic in Tamarama and mentors doctors in integrative paediatrics

Presentation summary: Dr Leila Masson will review research on reducing inflammation and optimising immune function through nutrition, lifestyle, and supplements. She combines experience from her large clinical practice with the latest research to bring insight about effective treatments when medications alone may not suffice.

*12.15-1.15pm (AEST) The role of probiotics for PANS

Keonie Moore (B Nat SCU NHAA); ReMed Natural Medicine Clinic; Founding Director; Senior Naturopath

Presentation summary: Probiotics have been shown to modulate the gut-brain axis through improving gut and brain barrier function, inhibiting pathogens such as Streptococcus and modulating immune responses. However, not all probiotics are the same and the generic use of multi-strain probiotics is rarely going to provide intended benefit. But how do you know which probiotic to use? Experienced clinician, Keonie Moore will explore the role of probiotics in managing PANS and PANDAS, highlighting practical points about how to use probiotics, what they can do and what they cannot do. Keonie will highlight the need to be strain/formula specific and some key areas where probiotics may be of benefit for PANS.

*2.00-2.40pm (AEST) Maternal autoimmune disease and inflammation in childhood tics and obsessive-compulsive disorder

Dr Hannah Jones: Consultant Paediatric Neurologist at Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand and Neuroimmunology Research Fellow at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney. Dr Jones has a special interest in neuroimmunology and movement disorders and is a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney investigating Maternal Autoimmune Disease and Inflammation in Childhood Tics and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Dr Jones will be presenting the findings of her PhD research during her talk.

Presentation summary: Maternal autoimmune disease is associated with PANS. Dr Jones will present the findings of her case-control study investigating the frequency of maternal autoimmune disease in children with tics and OCD, and the clinical features of children with tics/OCD born to mothers with autoimmune disease. 

*2.40-3.00pm (AEST) A psychologist’s first client presentation of PANS 

Brita List: Brita works as a private clinical psychologist at a clinic known for its work with child anxiety. She assesses and treats children, adolescents and adults experiencing emotional challenges such as anxiety, depression, and difficulty in regulating emotions, using Cognitive Behavioural Therapies (CBT) to help them re-engage in meaningful activities.  Brita was a clinician on several clinical trials; including assessing and treating children and adolescence and parents with mood disorders and somatic (physical) symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, nausea and fatigue; as well as assessing and treating primary school aged children and parents for emotion regulation (e.g. meltdowns). Brita has an interest in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders co-occurring with physical health issues. 

Presentation summary: A family brought their child to see me for anxiety treatment. In this presentation I will outline the process of differentiating between typical anxiety symptoms and mystery symptoms of my first client presentation of PANS; the challenges of identifying an appropriate psychological treatment plan; and trying to make sense of my role in the larger network of services needed for this complicated diagnosis. 

*3.00 – 3.30pm (AEST) The Impact of PANS on daily function and the role of OT

Michelle Newby: Michelle is a children’s occupational therapist and is Clinical Director of a private Occupational Therapy clinic in Newcastle NSW, Australia. Michelle has over 20 years experience working with children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Michelle is also a PhD Candidate at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia, and is examining the occupational and sensory processing patterns of children with PANS.

Presentation summary: Existing research indicates that children with PANS experience wide ranging challenges across all aspects of daily life. Michelle will outline these challenges and will highlight the role that Occupational Therapists have in supporting children with PANS. Michelle will also discuss what is currently known about sensory processing in children with PANS.

*3.45 – 4.15pm (AEST) A possible new way forward for supporting children with tics and comorbidity

Nicolette Soler: Senior paediatric mental health occupational therapist in the Department of Psychological Medicine at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Nicolette is currently completing her PhD through the University of Sydney, under Prof Russell Dale and Dr Paula Bray. Her areas of expertise are neurodevelopmental disorders, with a special interest in Tourette’s and tic disorders. Her research focuses on investigating a new multi-modal assessment and treatment approach to manage tic disorder. Her research has been published in the peer viewed journals, and she is the recipient of multiple research grants and awards.

Presentation summary: This presentation will share our learning from our established clinical work and research done through Prof Dale’s Dale Paediatric Neurology Service at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. The findings from our prevalence study, investigating the magnitude of sensory dysfunction, emotional dysregulation and quality of life in children with Tourette’s Syndrome and comorbidities will be presented as will the findings from our pilot study trialing a sensorimotor approach with children with tics. We adapted the Alert program® which uses sensorimotor strategies for self-regulation which resulted in significant improvement in tic severity in children and adolescents with tics.​ The presentation will also share the knowledge we gained relating to sensory strategies which assisted our patients and the limitations we found with those strategies and current sensory assessment tools.​

*4.15 – 4.30pm (AEST) Therapists question time

*4.30 – 4.50pm (AEST) Embracing a shared care approach to a PANDAS/PANS recovery (Kultured Wellness Gold Sponsor Presentation)

Kirsty Wirth is a qualified teacher, integrative nutrition health coach and the founder of Kultured Wellness, a company whose mission is to inspire and educate people to take control of their health by eating real and fermented foods that nourishes the brain and the gut. She is the brain child behind the Kultured Wellness Culture Starters and functional supplements, the Kultured Wellness Optimal Gut Healing Programs and is the co-author of GUTALICIOUS and author of Functional Fermented Nutrition.

Kirsty has appeared on numerous leading health and wellness podcasts and is well known for being able to break down complex concepts into easy-to-understand information. Her research and work in the area of gut health has been life changing for many of her clients. Her qualifications and experience in tertiary education, teaching, research, nutrition and gut health spans over 25 years and continues to drive her purpose of empowering the community to gain knowledge and understanding so they can be well and thrive.

She is a HUGE nature lover, a mother, a fervent advocate for children on the spectrum, you just can’t help but be touched by her spirit and infectious enthusiasm.

Presentation summary: The path to a PANDAS/PANS recovery is bumpy and complex and requires an in-depth shared care approach. The intense learning curve, resilience, tenacity, and bravery of both carers and patient is vast. The carer, embarking on a PANDAS/PANS recovery, needs to; become a critical thinker; select and build a team of clinicians; embark on a new lifestyle and dietary changes and also maintain their own self-care and health. These are skills that need to be developed and nurtured. Carers will need to be supported, guided and educated on building this capacity and require a coach and support team to ensure success. This presentation will not only cover the importance of a shared care approach and the critical role of the coach but will also offer case studies to demonstrate how a shared care approach can lead to successful recovery.

*4.50-5.00pm (AEST) MC closing remarks

Tickets for the online conference are available to be purchased now. You can purchase tickets by clicking on this button:

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Gold Sponsors:

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Bronze Sponsors:

At ReMed, we are committed to changing lives through delivering natural medicine solutions that work. As Australia’s largest naturopathic team, we are leading the field in providing comprehensive health care that makes a lasting difference. Led by experienced naturopath Keonie Moore, ReMed runs a PANS Clinic – a practitioner team dedicated to providing solutions for acute onset tics and OCD in children. Having worked in this specific area for over 10 years, Keonie has developed treatment models focused on the gut-immune-brain axis and how this is fundamental in managing PANS and PANDAS.

Find out more about Re-Med here Home – ReMed Natural Medicine Clinic

Mahanidis Chiropractic and Wellness Centre is a family operated and run business serving the Illawarra for over 40 years. We have evolved to a Wellness Centre offering both relief and wellness care. Many patients begin care in our office with a specific health concern and then realise that our approach is all about optimal health…how to get well faster and stay well longer. Offering Chiropractic, Dry Needling, Nutrition, Massage and customised orthotics we have your health needs covered. Unlike conventional medicine, which focuses on attempting to treat disease once it occurs, Mahanidis Chiropractic and Wellness Centre emphasizes improving your health in an effort to reduce the risk of pain and disfunction in the first place.

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