In the past Trump has regularly shared conspiratorial claims about autism being linked to vaccines

By Adam Carlson
April 02, 2019 02:28 PM
President Donald Trump
Alex Edelman/Pool/Getty

In a brief tweet on Tuesday, President Donald Trump marked the annual World Autism Awareness Day, sharing an article with information about its history and importance.

It wasn’t the first time the president has tweeted about autism, but in the past he has more often shared conspiratorial claims about autism being linked to vaccines.

There is no scientific link between vaccines and autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Trump’s hypocrisy on the issue — not for the first time — did not go unnoticed by some social media users.

“Guess what is not helpful in addressing autism?” one replied to his Tuesday tweet about Autism Awareness Day. The user reshared a 2014 Trump tweet in which the president said, “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!”

According to an archive of the president’s tweets, that was hardly an outlier among his posts over the years.

“Massive combined inoculations to small children is the cause for big increase in autism….” he wrote in 2012.

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In 2013, he replied approvingly to another user who asked him, “When will NYT write about vaccine damage and its price?”

And in 2014, he tweeted, “Autism WAY UP – I believe in vaccinations but not massive, all at once, shots. Too much for small child to handle. Govt. should stop NOW!”

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Since taking office, however, Trump’s statements on autism have softened and he has not mentioned vaccines and autism together, once a regular topic, in years.

The World Health Organization named vaccine hesitancy — the “reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability” — as one of the top threats to global health in 2019.

In April 2017, his first year as president, Trump noted Autism Awareness Day by lighting the White House blue, as is customary.

In a proclamation last year, he said the day is intended to “renew our commitment to support the entire international ASD community, including children and adults with ASD, their families, and caregivers.”

“Together, we can increase access to information, encourage heightened understanding of ASD, promote respect and dignity, and support the services that assist people with ASD to reach their full potential,” Trump said.

As with this year’s Autism Awareness Day tweet, users in 2017 were quick to remind Trump of his past comments.

His position remains unclear. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

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