The left-back fractured his leg in the 2-1 Champions League defeat against PSV on September 15 and recently returned to Manchester after undergoing surgery in Netherlands.
Shaw is now ready to take the next step in his rehabilitation and Van Gaal believes the England international's optimism will be key.
"He was very positive which is amazing for me. It's a very good signal," Van Gaal said at a press conference.
"We have started the rehabilitation. He shall be visited at home firstly for electro muscle stimulants."
United will also be without Marcus Rojo and Paddy McNair when they take on Sunderland on Saturday, but they do not have any fresh injuries after their League Cup win over Ipswich.
"We have the same three injuries – Rojo, Shaw and McNair," Van Gaal added.
"We have to wait and see how the others recover as there’s only two days between matches."
Van Gaal will meet compatriot Dick Advocaat when his men take on Sunderland, but even though he has sympathy for his fellow Dutchman, he has no intention of helping him to a first win of the season.
"I sympathise with him. I hope Sunderland win every game - apart from against us."