We all know Oprah is a genius but her tactical courage doesn't really hit home until she is speaking about something near and dear to your heart. In our house all work stopped at 4 pm yesterday so we could watch Oprah's autism show.And yes, she said it. She said that some people think vaccines cause autism. This is Autism Awareness Month and for weeks parents like me have been tensely waiting for an inaugural of sorts. For someone - anyone - big on television to merely say those carefully guarded words. To suggest that maybe, just maybe, the vaccines -or better said, Mercury, the extra ingredient that didn't belong in them in the first place - messed up some kids. Messed them up bad. It started a few weeks ago with Rosie O'Donnell's autism show. Autism parents hoped she would at least mention the simple word "cause." But she stayed so far away from it you could almost hear her thinking about all those advertisers jumping the fence to Ellen DeGeneres. Larry King then did his own show and moved the discussion an itsy, bitsy television step further. With the help of Bill Cosby and others he let this idea get out: Some people with autism have a genetic pre-disposition that is perhaps being exacerbated by something in the environment. He was careful. But getting there. So we stay tuned. But we didn't hear about vaccines and Mercury. We heard about what pet food did to a comparatively miniscule number of our dogs and cats. Not that I don't like dogs and cats. I love them. "Your pet's name?," is my favorite security question. So please don't send the animal lovers after me. Like I said, a bark or a meow is music to my ears. But I do have this nineteen year old who does not speak. And for weeks, like many parents, I have been waiting to hear anyone with celebrity power credentials- since that's what it takes - talk about what the Mercury in vaccines could have done to make autism an epidemic that now affects one in every 150 children. It took Oprah to ask about that. Oprah got there today thanks to Katie Wright, who, in autism circles at least, is a "famous mother." From the look of things, it seemed as it Katie Wright had insisted the topic be brought up. Bless her. Bless her, too, for politely but staunchly disagreeing with the doctor in the audience who said there is no evidence that vaccines cause autism. And bless Oprah for letting it all happen. Television though is fast. For a subject like this you need a book (see Evidence of Harm by David Kirby) or at least a reader's guide. Or, in a pinch, a paragraph or two. Here are mine: When most people speak about vaccines causing autism what they are really saying is that the Thimerosal that was put in autism as a preservative - not for any medical reasons - is actually Mercury which is poisonous. And that enough children with autism these days show signs of Mercury poisoning to make the whole thing more than an idle curiosity to distressed parents. In a nutshell, the motivation to put Mercury in vaccines was, like so many things, related to money. Thimerosal, simply, increases shelf life. If I had one wish - other than to find a cure for autism and hear my son Daniel use words in three or four languages again as he did 16 years ago when he was three - it would be that everyone who mentions autism and vaccines in the same breath adds the word "Mercury." I don't always and I should. But if we, as autism parents and advocates, don't mention Mercury, then we look like a bunch of lunatics who do not believe in good community health or good modern medicine. Most of us do not want everyone to get smallpox because no one is vaccinated.What we do want is more scientists to look at what happened in recent years as the number of vaccines dispensed to children was wildly increased - meaning that so many more children got that "extra ingredient" - Mercury. There, I bet, we'd find at least one of the answers to the puzzle of the autism epidemic that even the federal government agrees is a major health disaster. The word "Mercury" begs many questions.Here are just two:Are some children more susceptible to it than other children?Did some vaccines "accidentally" get more Thimerosal than others? Let us not forget that we live in a world where even doggie chow can be dangerous. I know that is true about pet food because I heard it on television.