LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A Central Arkansas couple is on a mission to shed light on PANS and PANDAS. It’s an under-the-radar disease with devastating consequences.
Becky and Bradley Wallace are raising donations from t-shirts and bracelets that say “Live life to the max.” It’s a motto they hope others will embrace and a way to honor their son Max.
“He loved to bring a smile to everyone’s face,” says Becky.
Doctors diagnosed Max with ADHD at age 6. Then they diagnosed him with autism at age 10. His condition progressively got worse.
“He had severe anxiety. He had a decrease in appetite. He had rages,” says Becky.
Max also had motor tics which is uncontrollable vocal outbursts and spasm-like movements. Doctors later determined he had PANS PANDAS — acronyms for two types of autoimmune responses triggered by a virus or bacterial infection.
“If we would’ve recognized it and had been referred you know sooner, we maybe would’ve had a better outcome,” says Richard Frye, Director of Autism Research at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
The day before Christmas 2016, Max took his own life. He was just 13 years old and awaiting treatment at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
Becky and Bradley have since teamed with the Saline Health Foundation to help others battle PANS and PANDAS.
“Our goal with the foundation is to provide financial support for testing,” says Becky.
“We’re not sure why some people’s immune system might make antibodies that cross react with certain bacteria that may also effect the nervous system,” says Frye.
Testing, support, even a movie. The new film called “My Kid Is Not Crazy” profiles six children, including Max, who are dealing with PANS/PANDAS.
“I believe that his purpose was to bring awareness to this disease to help other children,” says Becky.
The Wallaces are making it possible by pushing for legislation at the State Capitol.
Oct. 9 is now officially recognized as PANS/PANDAS Awareness Day in Arkansas.