Hello and welcome to Autism Spectrum GPS, I'm Melinda Sharma. I am a scientist but I'm also mom who has navigated a child’s diagnosis of autism. I'd like to share a bit about myself and my journey with you because I want you to understand why I'm here and how committed I am to helping families recover their children with autism.
When I grow up...
My childhood dream was to find a cure for cancer and I devoted three decades of my life to this goal. During graduate school, I developed an autoimmune clotting disorder that caused a lot of blood clots in my legs. This resulted in hospitalization and life-long medication. And I was told it would be difficult for me to have children, as frequent miscarriage is often part of the disorder.
But I pressed on. I pursued my dream of a PhD in immunology. I got married and my husband I wanted a family. My first pregnancy resulted in an early second trimester loss, as well as blood clots in my lungs and I could not breathe. After a long period of not being able to become pregnant, I began to realize that it was not in my hands and gave the matter up to God to direct the future.
Within three months, I was pregnant and overjoyed. Although the pregnancy was high-risk, I received excellent prenatal medical care and my precious son arrived in time for Christmas in 1998.
Navigating the muddy waters
My child was what I always called “sensitive”. He recoiled from people wearing strong perfumes, hated noise and was extremely colicky in the evenings. I was breastfeeding and eating a healthy diet so I experimented with removing dairy from my own menu. My child changed immediately! His pediatrician frowned and said there was no evidence to support such a decision, but my scientific mind said, “keep doing it!” My beautiful boy was happy, healthy, and interactive for the next 11 months. That was when I discontinued breastfeeding and he began a “normal diet”.
My son lost all of his dozen words, stopped making eye contact, and became a maniac, always in motion. Are you familiar with Looney Tunes? Well, my son was the “Tasmanian Devil”. And he made no sounds that sounded like English. I took him to the pediatrician repeatedly, asking, “Is this normal?” I was assured that “he will talk when he wants to” and that this was normal 2-year old behavior. His massive diarrhea 7-8 times a day was explained as the latest virus. The rash covering his body was only worthy of a steroid cream.
Home, Work and the Internet
By this time, I was a director at a biotechnology company. It was my dream job but it came with a great deal of responsibility. I wasn’t sleeping because my child didn’t sleep, and I could barely think at work. I saw all the other moms at the company succeeding in their careers (made more painful when the CEO of the company pointed this out to me) and I was struggling. When I became pregnant again with my second son, I delivered my resignation. It wasn't accepted and I continued working as the Grants Director, mostly from home. My success at work was only marginally better but my home was in chaos.
Using the Internet, I diagnosed my oldest son when he was three. I immediately put him on a gluten-free, casein free diet. He changed within 48 hours and it was like a veil was lifted! He took my face in his hands, and said, “Mama, Mama” like he was seeing me for the first time! His full body rash went away, his poop became normal and he potty trained in 3 months.
And Still No Support
I lived in an area of the country with tremendous resources, and was deluged with therapeutic options at his official diagnosis. Although zero hope was offered, the developmental pediatrician was encouraged at his response to diet alone. I joined a support group of parents who looked like they were mourning. I was overjoyed that I had a name for my son’s ordeal! So, needless to say, I didn’t fit in well with that crowd.
Although there were resources available, we were given no direction of what path to take. Tens of thousands of dollars, and valuable time were wasted on therapies that our son was in no shape to receive. We have been on a journey, no, an odyssey, of healing ever since. My son is not completely recovered yet, but the changes from his lowest point at age three are astounding.
A Compassionate Compass to Guide You
My singular experience as a researcher, recovered stroke patient, and mother of three children with special dietary needs have put me in a very unique position to direct and encourage others as they navigate their way from diagnosis to healing. I believe that anything is possible!
What I hope to provide for families is what I wished for: the shortest, cheapest, most time-efficient path to healing of autism. The Autism Spectrum GPS is a modern road map or guidance system, tailored to where a child is at, at any given time. If I cannot provide that, I will refer to someone who can. I like to say the GPS is "a compassionate compass".
Dr. Melinda Sharma holds a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology. She is a co-author of numerous original scientific articles, scholarly reviews and holds one patent. Dr. Sharma has received several honors and awards, including four research grants from the National Institutes of Health. She is a Certified Provider of Scientific Learning's Fast ForWord as well as The Listening Program, Brain Builder and other programs from Advanced Brain Technologies. Melinda has also received training in holistic nutrition consulting from the American College of Healthcare Sciences. She most recently earned certificate of attendance of Bal-A-Vis-X (Balance-Auditory-Vision-Exercises) Levels 1, 2 and Adaptive training.