Hello. My name is Jamal Prewitt. I am a staff member at Arts 'n Autism I primarily work with ILEAP, our early intervention program, and after-school group as an assistant.
I continue to work at Arts 'n Autism for a couple of reasons. I believe it is a good way to give back to Jan Sikes, the director as I was part of her very first autism unit in the Tuscaloosa City Schools 25 years ago. This was before we started to understand exactly what autism and its spectrums truly are. She was patient and giving, helping me understand why I was the way I was.
As a thirty-year old man with Aspergers, I owe my development to her. I want to give back that same time and love to the children and adults of this generation in the same way Jan Sikes, Patricia Wiggins, and others did for me.
This brings me to my second reason as to why I work with Arts 'n Autism. I am happy being able to understand a group of children and adults that are going through the same things I did. There is a sense of understanding that comes from experience. Children and adults on the spectrum feel isolated, and it helps them open up to their teachers when they learn that we know all too well what they are going through. I want to help guide them.
It would mean a lot to me for anyone to help fund our program. I am where I am now because of the kindness of others. These are children and adults who are different and often ostracized for things they don’t understand. Funding helps us set them on path where they can understand their own quirks and not sacrifice who they are deep down. Whether it is a penny, a hundred, or beyond, every little bit helps our cause, and we appreciate your help and understanding. Above all, the children will appreciate your help as well in the long run.
I have watched this program grow from the inside out. As a part of the first unit, we grew from a group of five in a time where people never truly believed autism to be a mental ailment. Now we understand that autism is a touch more, and the organization has grown by the dozens because more parents are seeing the signs early. We want to help, and expansion of the group only means that more parents can get their children the help they need which normal schooling simply cannot.
- Jamal Prewitt, teacher at Arts 'n Autism and former student of Jan Sikes