Autism spectrum disorder is a group of complex disorders related to brain development, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Common symptoms of autism spectrum disorder include difficulties in communication, impaired social interaction, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. However, symptoms vary across the spectrum. Many experts classify autism as a developmental disability.
Opinions vary on how to refer to someone with autism. Some people with autism prefer being referred to as autistic or an autistic person. Others object to using autistic as an adjective. Ask individuals how they prefer to be described.
Refer to someone as having autistic spectrum disorder only if the information is relevant to the story and if you are confident there is a medical diagnosis.
(Source: Disability Language Style Guide, National Center on Disability and Journalism)