Since it first identified as a distinct disorder by Leo Kanner (1943), autism studies continued to explain its causes. Many theories and clinical studies evolved. However, none of them seem to be conclusive. Although it was interchangeably considered as schizophrenia, recently it is defined as a distinct disorder that has its own characteristics. The field of management is still challenging. In this paper I am going to discuss different theories that explain autism. Then, I am going to summarize different learning approaches and methods used for autistic children based on the different theories and ideas.
Autism is part of the autistic spectrum disorders. It is originated from the Greek word "autos" which means "self".1 Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills (ASA).2 There are five autism spectrum disorders labeled as pervasive developmental disorder (DSM IV).
There is no known single cause for autism. Many theories evolved to explain the possible causes. There are many different cognitive and psychological thoughts describe the autism symptoms. On the other hand, new beliefs developed which explain the autism symptoms as caused by genetic or environmental influences. Controversial ideas like the effect of diet and vaccines on the development of autism symptoms recognized as hot topics for the last few years.
Autism, as per the definition, consists mainly of three main categorical symptoms which include behavioral, communication and social aspects. The severity of the symptoms fluctuates from one child to other.
Treatment approaches and methods vary widely according to the teaching center and to the autistic child assessment of needs and symptoms. There are many behavioral and cognitive modalities in dealing with autistic children. Recently, many therapies introduced for the management of autism symptoms such as diet therapy and drugs therapy. None of these therapies appear superior to others. It is the child condition and needs that judge.