Donald Trump has harsh rhetoric towards vaccines & autism at CNN debate, local expert responds

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HUNTSVILLE, AL-  You're probably not surprised to hear Donald Trump made a few colorful comments at Wednesday night's GOP debate. One of those comments creating a lot of buzz online is his strong stance that vaccinations are linked to what he calls an autism epidemic. A link between the two has been vehemently denied among medical experts, including fellow GOP candidate Dr. Ben Carson.

In the midst of a campaign full of colorful comments, Donald Trump struck a nerve at Wednesday night's debate when asked about his belief that vaccines cause autism.  He replied that autism has become an epidemic.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst Lindsay Chapman says while his rhetoric was harsh,  his notion that autism is an epidemic wasn't completely off base.  She says autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the U.S. with the least amount of research funding.

"More children with autism will be diagnosed this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined," said Chapman.

Trump then went on to say the autism epidemic has gotten out of control.  This is where Chapman said Trump crossed the line.

"We love these children, the community of Huntsville embraces these children.  There's a high rate of diagnosis occurring, but the great thing is we know effective treatments for the disorder.  So to say it's out of control is a little extreme, I think, because we can help them live successful lives," said Chapman.

Chapman dedicates her life to helping children with autism live accomplished lives.  She says it's a good sign presidential candidates are talking about autism, but she hopes the conversation can take a more productive turn.

"There are so many families, specifically in Alabama that need services but they can't access [them] because there's not the funding they need to pay for these therapies, so that's what I would to see talked about," said Chapman.

You can find out more about ABA-style autism therapy at Madison Behavior Therapy.