President Trump quizzed a school principal about autism during a meeting with educators at the White House on Tuesday.
“Have you seen a big increase in the autism with the children?” Trump asked Jane Quenneville, the principal of a Virginia public school specializing in special education.
Quenneville responded that she has, and noted her school “has shifted its population” to accommodate more students with autism.
“So what’s going on with autism?” Trump asked. “When you look at the tremendous increase, it’s really such an incredible — it’s really a horrible thing to watch, the tremendous amount of increase. Do you have any idea?”
Quenneville didn’t provide an explanation, but cited statistics showing that autism affects 1 in 66 or 68 children.
“Maybe we can do something,” Trump said, claiming the rate is “coming in even lower.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data last March that showed 1 in 68 school-aged children are diagnosed with autism, unchanged from its previous estimate.
Trump did not say what he believes causes autism, but in the past he has linked vaccines to what he calls an “epidemic” of the condition. And 10 days before taking office, he met with leading vaccine skeptic Robert Kennedy Jr.
Scientists and researchers have found no evidence connecting vaccines to developmental disorders such as autism.
“Studies have shown that there is no link between receiving vaccines and developing [autism],” according to the CDC.