06/13/2007 04:04 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Jabberwocky World of an Autism Mom

Where's that caterpillar with the hookah? You know, the one from Lewis Carroll's "Alice" stories? I need something to calm my nerves. There is a major legal case underway in the US Court of Federal Claims to decide if a 12 year old girl named Michelle Cedillo was thrown headfirst into the rabbit hole many of us know as autism by a childhood vaccination.

I should clarify my usage of the word "autism" so I don't get my head chopped off by the Queen of Hearts. I mean the, "Mom, it's time to change my diaper, grab my shirt so I don't run into the busy street, translate my gestures for strangers who think I'm a dolt" version of autism that thousands of children diagnosed over the last two decades and their parents deal with day in and day out.

So this legal case is being heard. And parents, doctors and lawyers and vaccine manufacturers, who are pharmaceutical companies await the verdict. This is where I find myself face to face with a logic that is as "contrariwise" as anything TweedleDee and TweedleDum could debate.

It feels like every day I read about yet another well known blockbuster, top selling drug that has been recalled or had its safety called into question by medical experts. Vioxx, Celebrex, Zyprexa and the latest, Avandia, a popular diabetes drug that doctors are now saying is not as safe as the manufacturer led them to believe. Americans have caught onto the fact that pushing a drug onto the market quickly means profit. And that profit occasionally trumps patient safety.

Anyone who does not sit on a pharmaceutical company board or profit from their ubiquitous advertising is likely to agree that drugs can indeed be unsafe and their sellers unscrupulous. Yet we parents are told that there is not a shadow of a doubt that vaccines are safe. That there is no possible way a vaccination, with or without mercury, could cause a neurological impairment called autism. That we silly parents should just fall back asleep in that teapot and let the Mad Hatter run the show. As Tweedledum says, "If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic."

If it weren't for pharmaceutical company advertisers filling the void left by the tobacco advertisers, who coincidentally disappeared when lawsuits proved they had lied about their products, a good portion of media outlets would be sitting on the briny beach weeping with the Carpenter and the Walrus that they couldn't afford to stay in business.

I'm supposed to trust the vaccine manufacturers? The large US media? I feel like Alice trying to hit a hedgehog ball with a flamingo mallet. Hey, Mr. Caterpillar? Forget the hookah. Could I have a nibble of that magic mushroom? I think I an altered reality is in order. The real world is just too jabberwocky for me.