Having experienced autism for the past 20 years, the realization for us has become this:
Autism is NOT so much a learning disability. It is more of a full body EXPRESSIVE disorder.
Learning is happening. With emphasis on Assuming Competence, we can believe that an individual is both learning and capable of learning. What do I mean? I mean that autistic individuals, however withdrawn they appear, are bringing in information they are exposed to. That learning process may look different from one moment to the next, but it is happening whether or not every learning channel is functioning in any given moment. For this reason, it becomes important to expose the autistic individual to information and experiences. Academic instruction becomes of paramount importance. Your child/student is learning, so let's offer information of substance and at an age appropriate level.
The bigger problem is the expression of knowledge.
If a tree falls in the forest with no one to hear it, does it make a sound? If a student learns information, but is unable to express it, did the learning still occur?
Our goal, then, becomes enabling the student to EXPRESS him/herself.
Some of our favorite blogs where our friends and colleagues Express themselves: