This paper describes a project carried out by the first author, an academic in special education, with the other authors, teachers of students with severe disabilities. It aimed to explore the application of the New South Wales (NSW) model of pedagogy, derived from authentic pedagogy, to the education of students with severe intellectual disabilities. The project was directed at students with severe intellectual disability who were unable to use spoken language for receptive and/or expressive communication and who were being taught augmentative and alternative means of communication. The group analysed and reframed the development of communication skills in relation to the elements of deep knowledge, deep understanding and higher order thinking, which are components of the dimension of intellectual quality in the NSW model. This analysis is presented here as an example of the way the authentic pedagogy framework can be applied to teach cognitive skills that are usually assumed by teachers of normally developing students.