Dr. Melinda (Borrello) Sharma is an immunologist and holistic nutrition consultant. She is a published author and inventor whose work has appeared in Immunology Today, Nature Medicine, the Journal of Immunology and many other prominent scientific journals and books. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards from the National Institutes of Health. However, her most important achievement is being a mother who struggled to reach her child severely affected with immune dysfunction that was labeled “autism”. By scouring the earth to find practitioners who look beyond the autism label to treat physical illness, Dr. Sharma has opened the door to recovery for her own child and later, others. In 2012, she established Autism Spectrum GPS, LLC, to assist other parents and prevent them from having to travel the difficult road that her family did to healing. She encourages her large Facebook following with inspirational posts to give them tangible hope for each day.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My first love was the study of the immune system. It was my passion in life, and everything was built around an exciting career in research. When my son was diagnosed with autism, everything changed. I shifted gears and poured all of my efforts into helping him reach his maximum potential. But, the curiosity of a scientist could never be taken from me! The more I listened to my parental instincts, the more I saw that my son suffered from symptoms of an immune system that could not function properly. In fact, he was physically ill with a number of hidden infections. I have been working with families as a compassionate compass, combining my love of the immune system and children with autism to help parents understand that there is hope. A subset of children diagnosed with autism suffer from physical illness, and impaired immune systems. Since there are so many more families who need help than I can consult with on a daily basis, this new book is an effort to get crucial information to parents who will take action to help their kids.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I've always enjoyed writing. As a scientist, it was a means of sharing my discoveries with the world. I also enjoy teaching, so writing is my means of breaking difficult concepts into easily understood words. Just because a subject is scientific doesn't mean it should be written in a dull, uninspiring fashion. I am always deeply moved when I write something about autism that touches a parent, who says, "that was exactly what I needed today." My writing has changed to fulfill an even greater purpose, to give hope to parents that their children have no limits.
As the incidence of autism soars, it is evident that a subset of children with autistic behaviors are suffering from treatable, physical illness. Up to 20% of children are recovering and experts cannot explain why. The immune system's health or state of dysfunction deeply impacts neurologic function. This book guides parents to be conversant about infections & immunity with healthcare providers.
Children have a mild illness and seemingly overnight, develop symptoms of OCD, possibly with separation anxiety, tics, rage, daytime hallucinations or night terrors, bedwetting, and may be completely debilitated or unable to function. What appears to be a behavioral or psychiatric issue may be "infectious behavior", caused by an immune response gone wrong after common childhood infection.