The exact cause of Autism remains unknown, and is still under the purview of various ongoing scientific researches. From the previous researches conducted by different scientists there are suggestions that Autism may result from genetic mutations within the human body, but there are no clarifications, as of yet, whether this condition results from rare genetic mutations, or from the rare combinations of commonly occurring gene variants (Abrahams and Geschwind, 2008, 345). There are also other researches that suggest that Autism may be caused by certain environmental factors, like pesticides, vaccinations in children, and heavy metals (Rutter, 2005); though the hypothesis in children’s vaccines has been strongly contended by other researchers, owing to a complete lack of any supporting scientific material (Gerber and Offit, 2009, 256-261). Kestenbaum (2008), in his research papers suggested that Autism can be observed in a child even before he is 3 years of age, though the American Psychiatric Association (2000) states that the external manifestations of Autism during infancy, especially during the child’ first two years, are very subtle and almost esoteric in nature, thus making it extremely difficult to delineate and diagnose the disorder. Autism can be identified by certain clinically characteristics that can be broadly defined as “deficits in reciprocal social behaviour, with accompanying delays in the development of language, and by the emergence of stereotypic patterns of odd behaviour...that reflects a restricted range of interests. Reciprocal social behaviour refers to the extent to which a child engages in...social interaction with others” (Constantino and Todd, 2000, 2043)....
This essay approves that from a study of its symptoms and characteristics of the disorder, it is now quite evident that the diagnoses of Autism would be more behaviour based, and not dependent on the mechanism or cause of the disorder. The two most commonly used diagnoses tests for Autism are the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised which as a form of semi-structured parent interview; and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule for observing and interacting with a child, in order to understand the nature of his impairments.
This report makes a conclusion that autism is a form of developmental disorder that can be diagnosed as early as in a three year old child. However, one must take care that once a child is diagnosed as Autistic, the parents must go in for early intervention, so that the available support systems be started as early as possible, in order to give the child the maximum benefit as regards assistance in acquiring skills necessary for self-care, and social interactions which would help the child to integrate better into the society as he grows up. Counsellors working with autistic children should approach the child with a broader perspective, and include other service providers like psychiatrists, teachers, and other experts in the medical field. The teachers, within an inclusive model, must be well trained and given appropriate support so that they can effectively teach within an integrative classroom setting. Thus, the chief aim should be not in differentiating according to a child’s disabilities, but more towards focussing on how to integrate a child with learning disabilities with the general children in a class, and the society at large.