Much has been written about autism, and there's been great debate about the controversy surrounding its cause and treatment. There's even been controversy around the search for a cure, as there is a population that doesn't think that a cure is even necessary.
I find this topic extremely interesting, but I think there are several facts to consider. First of all, a diagnosis of "Autism" is not so clear- cut. There is a large spectrum and varying degrees of involvement and symptoms in which the term "Austism" fits. It ranges from mild to severe, and that is why it is called a "spectrum disorder", which includes Asperger Syndrome http://www.greatschools.net/cgi-bin/showarticle/385 .
There are several websites that I would recommend that comprehensively cover the identification, treatment, and symptoms of the autistic child. I would suggest http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/autism/complete-publication.shtml and http://www.autismspeaks.org/ Another website that includes resources for education and schools is http://www.greatschools.net/cgi-bin/showarticle/389#Causes
What I find so interesting is the controversy surrounding the cause and treatment of autism. On one side, are the groups of people that believe that Thimersol/mercury that was in vaccines was the cause of autism in children. There have been many cases that state that the child was developing normally until they were given vaccines and then they started to regress. A strong argument is presented on this website: http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2004/03/02_354.html
Contradicting this is research that was done and reported in the New York Times and other media. You can read this article at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/08/health/08autism.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&oref=slogin
Lately, there has also been controversy about treatment and finding a cure. Recently, there was a very interesting article in New York magazine that discussed the Autism Rights Movement, activists that celebrate atypical brain function as a positive identity. To read this article, go to http://nymag.com/news/features/47225/ There are also many interesting articles written by people with autism that offer their perspectives: http://neurodiversity.com/weblog/article/26/ and http://www.autistics.org/library/dontmourn.html
There are no easy answers or solutions, but there is one area in which everyone seems to be in agreement; progress can be achieved by early detection and early intervention. In my opinion, this is a highly controversial, interesting topic that is worthy of further exploration by parents and teachers.