From BBC News Magazine:
A French politician’s recent use of the word “autism” to criticize other political leaders has drawn attention to the transformation of the term into a fashionable insult.
France’s Minister for Europe, Pierre Lellouche, said he was misunderstood and has since retracted the remark, but experts say his rhetoric reflects an evolution of the word into a pejorative slang term used on the playground and in the media.
Whatever way he meant it, “autistic” is often used as an insult and it’s insensitive to use a term that describes a disability or a condition in this way, says the National Autistic Society.
“I thought we’d got over that from the 1970s when people used to use the term ‘spastic’ in the playground,” says Benet Middleton from the society. “To have senior politicians doing that is thereby signalling that it’s ok and that is deeply worrying.”