Preschool for Children with Autism

Who we are

The Preschool for Children with Autism at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center is an intensive communication program for young children with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Our team of speech-language pathologists, special education teacher/behavior analyst, occupational therapists, feeding therapists, and specially-trained teaching assistants work to provide comprehensive services in communication, behavior, interpersonal communication, and sensory-based and fine motor needs. 


The focus of the program is to assist children in developing functional communication skills that will accelerate their social, academic and behavioral development through the use of evidence-based interventions along with principles of Applied Behavioral Analysis.

Specifically, the program provides:

  • Emphasis on language development and social pragmatics skills
  • use of assistive technologies as needed (visual supports, picture systems, signing, speech generating devices)
  • referral for other evaluations and treatments as needed (PT, GI, psychology, pediatrics, neurology, psychiatry, genetics, behavior therapy)
  • a variety of evidence-based treatment approaches and models, individualized to the child’s needs
  • occupational therapy individual “push-in” or "pull-out" intervention
  • feeding therapy individual “push in” or “pull out” intervention
  • developmentally-appropriate and highly-motivating activities
  • regularly scheduled OT and feeding therapy consultation
  • a special education/BCBA consultation providing program support, behavior consultation and intervention, as well as transition support for our students when they move on from the program
  • social work consultation for family support
  • a robust parent education program including topic-based discussion groups and formal 12-week Hanen Parent Education program

Classroom setting

All classes are led by Speech-Language Pathologists who have expertise and experience in working with children with Autism. A special education and behavior consultant assists with planning and programming as well as behavior support/intervention. 

Children are grouped based on their age, rather than skill level.  All of the classrooms have students with a variety of skills (e.g., verbal, play, motor, etc). We meet each child where s/he is related to personal strengths and areas that need growth and support.   

Sample Daily Schedule

Sample Daily Schedule


Arrival, Toileting, Group Play


Circle Time – Welcome, Calendar, Daily Schedule




Hand washing, Morning Snack


Centers, Art


Gross Motor/OT Gym




Hand washing, Lunch


Book/Language Activity


Music and Movement


Closing Circle/Goodbye          

Treatment Philosophy/Approach

We use a variety of evidence based practices and strategies, including joint attention intervention, discrete trials, pivotal response training, visual schedules, AAC, peer modeling, and social stories.

School hours

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday



For information on enrollment, contact:

Jennifer Ask, MS, CCC-SLP

Autism Preschool Coordinator

Autism Diagnostic Team Coordinator

Tel: 615-936-1099

Fax: 615-875-1411

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Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center  -  MCE, South Tower  -  1215 21st Ave. South, Suite 6209  -  Nashville, TN 37232-8718