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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, occupational therapists, feeding therapists, behavior analyst consultants, and specially-trained teaching assistants work to provide comprehensive services in communication, behavior, feeding, sensory and fine motor needs.


The focus of the program is to assist children in developing functional communication skills that will facilitate social, academic and behavioral development. We do this through evidence-based interventions, including principles of Applied Behavioral Analysis.

Specifically, the program provides:

  • emphasis on receptive/expressive language development and social communication 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
  • psychologist/BCBA consultation providing program support, behavior consultation and intervention
  • special educator/SLP 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

Enrollment Requirements

  • Age 18 months to 5 years
  • Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or actively pursuing diagnosis of ASD
  • Completed enrollment form (link below)
  • Immunization records sent
  • Completed registration with TEIS (under 3 years of age) or Child Find (3 years and over)

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.

Billing/Financial Aid

The PCA is an intensive group speech/language therapy program. For each visit, your child’s insurance will be billed for a group speech/language therapy visit. As insurance does not capture the number of hours included in each visit, we charge a separate monthly tuition fee that is not covered by TEIS or by insurance. If this fee is a hardship for your family, scholarship funds may be available. A scholarship application is available below. Please contact Jenni Ask at the information below for more information. 

School Hours

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
8 to 11:30 a.m.

For information on enrollment, contact:

Jennifer Ask, MS, CCC-SLP
Autism Preschool Coordinator
Autism Diagnostic Team Coordinator
(615) 936-1099
Fax: (615) 875-1411

Meet Our Team

Jennifer H. Ask

Jennifer H. AskSLP

    Hearing and Speech, Pediatric Speech Language Pathology, Speech Language Pathology
Lisa Henderson

Lisa Henderson

    Administrative Assistant