Dr. Temple Grandin has unique insight into the minds of autistic children. She wrote a terrific article for TakePart.com on how to educate children on the autistic spectrum. Her approach—stay positive:
Special educators need to look at what a child can do instead of what he/she cannot do.
There needs to be more emphasis on building up and expanding the skills a child is good at. Too often people get locked into a label such as dyslexia, ADHD, or autism, and they cannot see beyond the label. Kids that get a label often have uneven skills. They may be talented in one area and have a real deficiency in another.
In my case, I was really good at art, but doing algebra made no sense. It is important to work on areas where a child is weak, but an emphasis on deficits should not get to the point where building the area of strength gets neglected.
I heard about sad cases where a teacher forbids an elementary school child to draw pictures. If a teacher had stifled my art ability, I would have never become a designer of livestock equipment. Half the cattle in North America are handled in equipment I have designed for the meat plants. I think that this is a real accomplishment for a child that some people thought was mentally retarded.
Read more of her advice in the full article here.