Book Review: Brain Under Attack

November 29, 2018

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at

I recently gave a keynote presentation on how stress affects the brain and human behavior and part of that presentation was my own personal story of dealing with my teenage son’s lyme-induced PANS. I asked the audience of 600 if anyone had ever heard of PANS, and there were no hands shown. When I asked if anyone had heard of PANDAS, a gentleman said, “Yeah – the bear.”  To which I replied, “Yes, a rabid bear.”

If you have a child with PANS or PANDAS or autoimmune encephalitis (AE), you know that my attempt at humor there was not really too far off in terms of how it feels. It is isolating, confusing, confounding, often times dangerous, and you become marginalized because it feels as though no one else even remotely understands what you and your child’s lives have become—including the medical professionals who are part of your established network of care. We live in a constant state of survival, trying to figure a way out of this situation that most closely resembles hell.

Thankfully, there is a new book available to help parents and caregivers find a path toward healing when they are faced with these conditions. Brain Under Attack: A Resource for Parents and Caregivers of Children with PANS, PANDAS, and Autoimmune Encephalitis, by Beth Lambert, Maria Rickert Hong, and others from Epidemic Answers, should be in the hands not only of parents dealing with these conditions but also every medical practitioner who treats children.  And we should also add to that list: teachers, paraprofessionals, family members, and neighbors.

This book contains quite a bit of information about the science of what PANS/PANDAS/AE is, but it does so in an easy-to-understand way. It’s a very complicated condition, one that manifests in thousands of different ways; yet the authors do a fine job of distilling the most pertinent information so the reader can understand easily how this condition develops, what it “looks like” behaviorally, and how to proceed with finding resources to help the healing process.

The book contains stories from families who have healed from PANS, a four-step healing plan that focuses on the foundations (which will be helpful for the entire family), information about adjunctive treatments that might be helpful, the importance of healing emotionally—for the entire family, and some experienced and well-versed practitioners offer their best advice for parents who are needing guidance.

There is mention of the co-morbidity of autism and PANS, but there isn’t much focus on that subset. This book is most helpful for those who have NT (neurotypical) children who suddenly “go mad.” For those of us with children with autism and PANS (or maybe it’s more appropriate to call it PANS-induced autism), there is still solid help in this book, but you’ll have to be creative about certain aspects of the healing plan. For instance, cognitive behavioral therapy and other “talk therapies” are mentioned often, which is great for people who can—talk and communicate traditionally. I know in my son’s case, I’ve had to work on remediating his brain damage in more creative ways. Don’t let that dissuade you from including this book in your collection, however. I love that it focuses on the foundations and that it also highlights the importance of caregiver self care. PANS has no patience for martyrs. You MUST take care of yourself while you work to heal your child and depending on your child’s manifestations of this condition, healing could take a very, very long time.

There is no magic bullet, and the authors do a great job at emphasizing that. I’m so appreciative that more and more publications are recognizing that healing our children must be done in layers and from many different angles.

Epidemic Answers is on the forefront for bringing this information to the mainstream and assisting parents who are desperately needing direction and answers. And guess what?  Epidemic Answers was founded and is run by parents. Just like us. Just like you. Together we will find a way to heal our children.

You can purchase your copy of Brain Under Attack on Amazon.

~ Raven

Raven, a.k.a. Amy Yardley, makes her home in the Inland Pacific Northwest and is co-owner of Navigate Your Healing, LLC, with her business partner Dr. Amy Spoelstra, DC.


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6 Responses to Book Review: Brain Under Attack

  1. Lea says:

    If anyone has a child with PANDAS, there is a YouTube channel called Epik Life, Neysa Brandon is an incredible mom of 6, and has a son that has PANDAS and she has overcome it very well. She talks pretty candidly about it, maybe it would encourage someone else in that valley❤️

  2. John Collins says:

    Probably the best program for treatment of PANS, PANDAS, or related diseases is at Stanford. I would not recommend going to a chiropractor or naturopath, but, of course, some people are so charmed by “alternative” medicine that they immediately seek out such providers. Caveat emptor.

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      I used “alternative” medicine to treat my daughter, and it was very successful. We watched the film “My Kid Is Not Crazy” and were overcome with gratitude that it never got as bad for us as for the young people in the film.

    • Amy Yardley says:

      Naturopath and Chiropractors are the only ones who are helping here. Just proves that we are all different. There is no ONE treatment for our kids and therefore no ONE practitioner. We should all feel free to see the practitioners and seek treatments that make sense for us.

      • John Collins says:

        Well, I am glad that chiropractors and naturopaths are providing help to some, despite the fact that their disciplines have little or no scientific support, and the therapies they provide don’t stand up to rigorous scrutiny. The plural of anecdote is not data. I would again caution everyone not to rely solely on alternative providers, no matter how much you believe they might be helping. Too often, these will deprive you of early treatment and drain your finances, and proffer excuses why things aren’t better. Caveat emptor.

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