THE BLOG

It's Like This... Autism And Vaccines

07/17/2007 12:21 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

I am the queen of analogies. It's part of my writing and speaking style. If you ask me for directions I'll tell you to "Take a left at the elementary school that looks like a prison." When an email acquaintance asks what I look like I'll say, "My hair is like snakes, my eyes are the size of dinner plates, and I'm as curvy as a Q-tip.

Yesterday, though, I met my match. I have a new job editing a site for autism news. And one of our writers sent me a post that just blew me away. You can read it here. Nancy Hokkanen came up with one of the greatest analogies ever to describe the autism and vaccine controversy and how it feels to us parents of kids with autism. She compared it to the Catholic Church's cover up of decades of sexual abuse.

Nancy, I hand you my crown. You are the new queen of analogies. Nancy nailed it, if you'll pardon the crucifixion pun. It was the parents of those abused children who put themselves on the line for their kids to bring about the multi-million-dollar settlements and more importantly, the apology from the Church.

I've been stuck on the cigarette smoking analogy for years, telling people that if vaccines are implicated in the autism epidemic it will make the tobacco company trials look like a walk in the park. What an amateur! Nancy's analogy beats mine like a rented mule.

I do see a couple of differences between the Church scandal and the autism vaccine situation. First off, there is no such thing as an autism vaccine trial. Vaccines are protected from litigation by our friends in Washington, DC. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 ensured a no-fault system for vaccine manufacturers. Instead of a court trial, you can go through the HRSA - National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

Another difference is that sane people immediately saw that if priests were abusing boys and girls, the Church had to pay a price. And the problem deserved (and got) the full attention of the media. The Catholic Church has taken a drubbing in the press for years. After all, everyone (except a pedophile or a Catholic so deep in denial she'd be willing to sacrifice children for the reputation of the Church) agrees that there isn't a single valid excuse for sexually abusing kids.

Vaccines, on the other hand, are a sacred cow. You cannot question their safety without being branded a heretic. And the media, whose bread is buttered by the pharmaceutical companies who make the vaccines, are shall we say, "squeamish" about upsetting their sponsors. So their coverage tends to be scant and/or one sided, in favor of the vaccine manufacturers. Even as the autism numbers hit 1 in 58 in the UK and 1 in 150 in America.

Nancy makes a valid point. It's the mothers and fathers of thousands of children with autism who will make sure that vaccines get the scrutiny they deserve. How do I know? I'm one of them. And I'm as angry as a bee trapped in Coke bottle. Abuse is abuse. A lie is a lie. A cover up is a cover up. No need for an analogy at all. This time.