Disability issues came front and center at the third and final presidential debate.

Sen. John McCain brought up the issue when talking about his running mate Gov. Sarah Palin.

“She also understands special-needs families,” McCain said. “She understands that autism is on the rise, that we’ve got to find out what’s causing it and we’ve got to reach out to these families and help them and give them the help they need as they raise these very special needs children. She understands that better than almost any American that I know. I’m proud of her.”

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Sen. Barack Obama responded by praising Palin’s work with special needs issues, but questioned whether or not a McCain administration would provide the funding needed.

“I think it’s very commendable the work she’s done on behalf of special needs,” Obama said. “I do want to just point out that autism, for example, or other special needs will require some additional funding, if we’re going to get serious in terms of research. That is something that every family that advocates on behalf of disabled children talks about. And if we have an across-the-board spending freeze, we’re not going to be able to do it. That’s an example of, I think, the kind of use of the scalpel that we want to make sure that we’re funding some of those programs.”

Later, in a discussion about education, Obama again brought up the need for funding where disabilities are concerned.

“Local school districts end up having more of a burden, a bunch of unfunded mandates, the same kind of thing that happened with special education where we did the right thing by saying every school should provide education to kids with special needs, but we never followed through on the promise of funding and that left local school districts very cash-strapped,” Obama said.

Disability Scoop wants to know what you think. Which candidate will best serve the needs of people with developmental disabilities? What do you want to know from the candidates about their plans and positions on disability issues? Post a comment below.