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  • Writer's pictureBritany Libutty

School Supports for your PANS/PANDAS Child

Updated: Mar 28, 2022

I wanted to add a section about Sensory Bags as a tool for your child.


This is a thing I had mentioned using in tandem with "My PANS/PANDAS Flare Journal", and our "PANS/PANDAS Companion Journal" back in an older post:



(The Flare Journal is a published work I created to help track symptoms/triggers in school for the PANS/PANDAS child.

The Companion Journal is for teacher use for: symptom tracking, communication with parents, listing intervention strategies/their effectiveness, and teacher reflection for classroom management help for the PANS/PANDAS child.)


Using those Journals with a Sensory Bag has helped reduce the severity and occurrence our child's flares by about 80% this school year. They function much more independently and are much better at emotionally regulating in school now because they have tools to support them.




The Sensory Bag is one of those tools. So, let's talk about it.


Using a sensory bag is a good way to disengage or distract from a trigger, and then re-direct/re-engage the child in sensory experience/manipulation that will help change their emotional state and help them learn to self-regulate through use of sensory items.


(Essentially your child will learn to calm themselves and re-direct themselves through using sensory items.)


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Brief notes on sensory bag usage in classroom as an aid for the PANS/PANDAS child:


1) Limitations: I would recommend to any parent though not to include:


- any soft liquid-filled squeezable item in the sensory bag, as those can explode/leak easily and no one wants to deal with the fallout from that in class.

-items that make noise as these would distract classmates.

-things that have a large amount of small parts and pieces that come apart/reconnect as they could get lost easily (frustrating the child) or be difficult to disassemble/reassemble (again frustrating the child.) The goal is to calm the child with easy, enjoyable sensory items/tasks.


2) I usually only keep only 5-6 items in a bag at any time. I rotate the items in the bag monthly for my child. The teacher sends the bag home on the first of the month and I unload the bag and put new items inside and resend into school.



3) Keeping a small number of items in the bag keeps the number of choices for the child to make easier. If more items are used in the sensory bag, the child may become overwhelmed with choices, and want to play with everything at once- possibly igniting frustration when they cannot decide which item to use. They may also get upset if they haven’t been able to explore what they wanted to in the amount of time they have with their sensory bag time and need to return to the class.



4) The bag is to be offered as a tool to the child with explicit communication communicated and agreeance by the child that the bag may only be used as a means of self-regulation of self-calming, and that they must be done with the bag when their time is up and rejoin class.



5) In our family, we also add that our child may only use their bag after they have used their "My PANS/PANDAS Flare Journal" to write or draw about their trigger in class.

This ensures that we get the communication from our child about the event that happened put into the journal so we can reflect upon it, and then the bag is used to further calm down/focus afterward.

The journal is primary, the bag is secondary.

The journal is needed, the bag is somewhat of a “reward” in the child’s eyes.



6) An explicit amount of time should be established between the family, child, and teacher for journal usage. In our family, we do a 10 minute write, 5 minute sensory bag “play” as a standard. If our child is done writing or drawing faster that that, the teacher moves onto the sensory bag sooner.



7) Sometimes the amount of time to journal or use the sensory bag will change depending on the severity of the trigger. This is ok. The main idea is to have the child and family agree with the teacher that the teacher is responsible for setting time expectations, and that the child must agree to return to class activities when the teacher notices the student is calm/focused again- or has surpassed their time limit. If the child doesn’t listen to the prompt for the teacher to re-join, the teacher is encouraged to remove the materials from the child- to maintain consistency and maintain expectations of use.



8) The child may use these items multiple times in a day if dealing with big flares, or may go days/weeks without them if in remission. Any amount that helps the child function better in the classroom is okay as long as it doesn’t deter/distract from their ability to re-join class in regular classroom activities.



9) The items in the bag, how long it is used for, and rules for usage may change throughout the year. The family, teacher, and child are encouraged to create their own rules about sensory bag usage and stick to them consistently together. Always reiterate to the child that these materials are being offered as tool to help them return to calmness, and re-direct their focus, and that they need to be put away after use so the child can return to regular class activities.


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In order to make a bag for our child, I chose items we had around our home already and just put them into a zipable pencil bag for school and labelled it with our child’s name. This is helpful if your family is really in a dire situation with money (as we are) and need to use your own resources to help your child if you cannot afford to buy a completed sensory set online. They do make some great ones, but I understand the tight budget costs associated with mold, remediation, and recovery.

I am listing these items with clickable links so you can see what I am talking about, I am not encouraging you to buy anything. If you want to, you can, but you can also see if you have these items around your home to make your own bag.



Here is our scrappy bag that's seen a lot of use this year in first grade:




My child just brought home their bag for a switch out, and here are the items I am taking out:


Their "sleeve" a soft sleeve of one of my shirts they like to smell and rub on their face when stressed or tired.

A liquid timer in a solid plastic container

A smooth stone for rubbing in hands

A Koosh ball

Snap Connectors

A Smelly Banana that opens to a small toy



Here are the items that I am putting in:


An insect visual shadow magnet game

A fidget spinner

A Scentsation cuddle buddy to smell and relax

A Chewy bead necklace

A pop-it grid

A sand filled manipulative seahorse




The goal is to calm the child- not excite them, so the items should be easy to use, simple in design but something the child likes to use. Sight, touch, and smell should be considered when selecting items for the child. Items that make noise, or items they can eat (some smell and ALL taste sensory items) are not generally allowed in school. (Our school is okay with a Warmie or Scentsations though.)


I hope to have another awesome resource for you all soon, and I will update you all when that happens!

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Here is what I chose for some of our sensory bag rotations during the year:



Finger Rings


Stretchy Rubber


Water Bead Squishy Pads (I can rec. these because they are hard to break/leak)


Liquid Visual Timer


Busy Cube


Marble Mesh Manipulative

Snap and Click Snakes


Fidget Spinner/Pop its


Warmie- Lavender Scented Cuddle Buddy



These items or any other fine motor items that parents know their children love can be included into their sensory bag.




I hope these ideas help your child, family, and school!

Reach out if you'd like more information about them.





Image created by me on Canva

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