State Sen. Kevin Witkos Supports Legislation On Disorders That Hurt Children [Hartford Courant]

June 11, 2013

Article as it appeared in the Hartford Courant on June 11, 2013

By Ken Byron

State Sen. Kevin Witkos, Republican of Canton, applauded the passage of legislation that he introduced during the recently ended session of the General Assembly that would establish an advisory council on two disorders that impact children, according to an announcement from his office.

The proposal that Senator Witkos introduced focuses on pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS) and pediatric acute neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS). According to the announcement from Witkos’ office, these disorders are characterized by the dramatic onset of neuropsychiatric symptoms that include obsessions, compulsions and tics. They are believed to be caused when the immune system produces an antibody that interacts with neurons in the brain.

The bill would require that the state Department of Public Health establish a 14-member advisory council that would provide it with information about research into these condition along with an outreach and education program for health care providers.

According to the announcement from Witkos’ office, the bill passed by a unanimous vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives and moved to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office to be signed into law.

“After several years of bringing attention to PANDAS, I am so proud that this legislation has gained bipartisan and unanimous support,” Witkos said in a statement. “With the passage of this bill, our state will be the first in the nation to establish an advisory committee to deal with this debilitating disorder. If it is caught early enough, it can be cured, and we have the opportunity to improve our public education about how best to recognize and provide effective treatment to those who are affected by PANDAS.”

Witkos said in his statement that he worked with Lynn Johnson, the Executive Director of the PANDAS Resource Network, and Jim Carson, the parent of a child suffering from PANDAS, on the bill.

“As a parent of a child with PANDAS who was misdiagnosed for ten years, I am so pleased to know that this bill is the first step to educating the medical community about this debilitating disorder so that other sick children can find treatment and get their lives back on track,” said Carson, of West Hartford, in a statement. “I am very proud to see our legislature make PANDAS a priority for my son William and all the others suffering with this immune disorder.”

For more information about the PANDAS Resource Network, please visit their website at

Witkos represents the 8th Senate District, which includes Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury and Torrington.