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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

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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