ST. CHARLES – Kris Thompson isn’t used to speaking publicly about her 22-year-old son’s medical condition that gave him a sudden onset of anxiety, depression and tics that caused him to be uncomfortable in his own skin.
He only recently has allowed her to share his story because he doesn’t want other children to go through what he went through, she said.
“There’s been some really dark, dark days for him,” the St. Charles resident said. “That’s the hard part. That’s the part that I hope other families wouldn’t have to experience.”
Thompson’s son suffers from PANDAS – pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections. It is the sudden onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder often displayed as severe anxiety and emotional disturbances plus two or more other symptoms, including tics, severe separation anxiety, irritability, personality changes, sensory sensitivities and frequent urination.
In her son’s case, Thompson said, he developed it after having several sinus infections and strep throat around the time he got his required hepatitis B shots for high school.
Although her son has received treatment, she said, it will take several more to get his PANDAS in remission because of the time he went untreated.
Thompson – along with other parents of children diagnosed with PANDAS and related conditions PITAND and PANS – will be working to raise awareness of the disorders.
In July, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a proclamation declaring Oct. 9, 2013, as PANDAS/PANS Awareness Day in Illinois.
In celebration of the proclamation, PANDAS Advocacy and Support – a parent group – is holding the PANDAS Climb from 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 13 at the stairs at Swallow Cliff Woods-North near Palos Park.
“That hill represents what our families and our children do every day,” said Thompson, referring to the 125 limestone stairs that lead to the top of a former toboggan run.
The climb would be canceled in the event of rain.
No donations will be solicited. Instead, postcards about PANDAS, PITAND and PANS will be available. Members of the parent group will be in attendance for support and to answer questions.
Because PANDAS parents often don’t want their child’s diagnosis broadcast to extended family and friends, Thompson said it is difficult to know how many people in the Tri-Cities are affected by it.
“It makes me wonder how many other kids are out there even in our town that don’t know we exist,” she said.
If you go
What: The PANDAS Climb, a celebration of PANDAS/PITAND/PANS Awareness Day
When: 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 13
Where: The stairs at Swallow Cliff Woods-North near Palos Park, near Route 83 and LaGrange Road.