Sarah Louise Curtiss
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Department of Human Development and Family Studies
1015 Doris Kelley Christopher Hall
904 West Nevada Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61801
Ph.D., Anticipated May 2017
University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, Human Development and Family Studies, Dissertation: “Understanding Mealtimes on the Spectrum”, Adviser: Dr. Aaron Ebata, Committee members: Dr. Aaron Ebata, Dr. Brent McBride, Dr. Ramona Oswald, and Dr. Rosa “Amy” Santos
M.S., May 2013
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, Human Development and Family Studies, Thesis: “Educating the Educator: Delivering Sexuality Education to Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder”, Advisor: Dr. Aaron Ebata, Second reader: Dr. Angela Wiley
B.S., May 2004
University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, Psychology
My research examines developing and evaluating programs around the needs of children with autism, their families, and support professionals. My goal is to support and structure the systems that affect youth with autism with facilitating positive development. My applied program of research seeks to support children and their families in gaining resilience in the face of marginalization by gaining a better understanding of family strengths and applying that understanding to program development and intervention services.
Curtiss, S.L. The birds and the bees: Building capacity to deliver sex education to individuals with autism, The Autism Program of Illinois, 2013 ($1,000).
2015 Jonathan Baldwin Turner Fellowship ($20,000)
2014 Jonathan Baldwin Turner Fellowship ($20,000)
2013 Jonathan Baldwin Turner Fellowship ($20,000)
2010 University of Illinois Graduate Fellowship ($3,800)
2010 Claretta Walker Graduate Research Fellowship ($14,540)
2010 Emily Schroeder Graduate Fellowship ($1,850)
2010 Janice M Smith Memorial Fellowship ($5,210)
Academic and Professional Appointments
2015 – 2017 Understanding Mealtimes on the Spectrum*. Principle investigator.
This project is a grounded theory exploration of mealtimes of families of children with autism. The goal of this study is examine within-group variations in family routines and the strategies parents naturally employee to achieve functional routines and meaningful rituals. It was funded by The Autism Program at Champaign-Urbana.
2013 – 2017 Father Involvement with Young Children with Developmental Disabilities and Delays*. Research assistant advised by Dr. Brent McBride and Dr. Rosa (Amy) Santos.
This interdisciplinary, interuniversity project seeks to understand father involvement when young children have developmental disabilities and delays in terms of family dynamics, parental relationships, and service implementation. In addition to having a content focus, this project explores issues of methodology and measurement. This research is partially funded through a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences.
2013 – 2015 The Internet-based Parent-implemented Communication Strategies (i-PiCS) program. Research assistant advised by Dr. Headda Meadan-Kaplansky.
The I-PiCS program is project in the department of Special Education at the University of Illinois. It is an online training and coaching program for teaching parents naturalistic strategies (i.e., environmental arrangement, modeling and mand-model, and time delay) to enhance the support for young children with very limited expressive communication which was developed by Dr. Hedda Meadan-Kaplansky. The research team studies program development, implementation science, parent coaching and training, and single-subject case design. This research is partially funded through a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences.
2012 – 2013. The Birds and the Bees: Building capacity to deliver sex education to individuals with autism. Principle investigator.
The Birds and the Bees is a professional development program that supports practitioners to feel more comfortable with and be more competent at teaching human sexuality to individuals with developmental disabilities. This research evaluated the program and was funded by The Autism Program of Illinois.
2011 – 2012 Project DINE*. Project manager for Dr. Barbra Fiesse and Dr. Blake Jones.
This United States Department of Agriculture funded study combined survey, interview, biometric, and observational methods to better understand family interactions during mealtimes. Specifically, the goals of the study were to examine how cognitive distraction during mealtimes affects communication and eating patterns.
2011 – 2012 Evaluating the Electronic Delivery of Just in Time Parenting (JITP) Education. Research assistant advised by Dr. Aaron Ebata.
JITP is a national eXtension program which consists of a series of online newsletters that get delivered to parents via email with reliable parenting information as children age.
* Indicates mentoring undergraduate research assistants as part of the project.
Adolescent Development – HDFS 405
This course offered and in-depth study of adolescence from psychological, biological, social, and cultural perspectives. It examined adolescents experience in important life contexts, such as family, peers, and school and how they negotiate the bio-psycho-social developmental tasks of this age period. A major objective of the course was to understand the pathways associated with positive development and discuss the skills of effective youth professionals in facilitating positive development.
2014, 2017 Teaching assistant for Dr. Reed Larson
2015 Co-instructor with Cole Perry
Practicum in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS 450)
This course is a supervised learning experiences which provides professional level experience in a human service agency; opportunities for students to use theory, content, and skills from coursework in a professional setting; and an opportunity for students to develop professional skills.
2016 Teaching Assistant for Dr. Aaron Ebata
Introduction to Human Development – HDFS 105
This course focused on the biological, psychological, and social changes that occur throughout the lifespan. The major objectives of this course were for students to address misconceptions about human development, learn to evaluate research-based evidence, and understand how the scientific method is applied to topics they experience in their day-to-day lives.
2017 Teaching Assistant
2011 – 2013 (HDFS 105 Online) Teaching Assistant for Dr. Aaron Ebata
2012 (HDFS 105 Online) Consultant for Dr. Jill Bowers
Invited Guest Lecturing
2014 Introduction to Family Studies (HDFS 120) “Reproduction and the Transition to Parenting”
2014 Practicum in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS 450) “Applying Family Systems theory to Working with Families with Children with Autism”
2011 – 2015 The Autism Program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (TAP). Program facilitator.
TAP was part of a state-wide network of resources for Autism Spectrum Disorders in the state of Illinois that was dismantled in 2015. The local affiliated, which has stayed open, serves as a resource and referral center, develops model programs, and facilitates collaborations between community agencies and families.
Developed, implemented, and evaluated programming including social skills groups, human sexuality classes, and summer camps.
Developed and maintained an online presence for TAP including redesigning the website, Facebook page, and newsletter. Also created online training modules for undergraduates.
Mentored 11 undergraduate assistants to facilitate social skills groups, human sexuality classes, and website development.
2004 – 2010 The Developmental Services Center (DSC), Champaign, IL. Manager of a vocational day program for adults with developmental disabilities.
DSC is the largest service provider in central Illinois for individuals with developmental disabilities. In 2006 I was the agency’s Employee of the Year. Starting in 2008, I restructured the day program service delivery model to be more person-centered.
Oversaw therapeutic and vocational programming for over 50 adults with developmental disabilities and oversaw 10 full time staff.
Chaired the sexuality resource committee: taught human sexuality education, consulted on sexuality topics, and trained other sexuality educators.
Served as liaison with the Office of the Inspector General to identify, investigate, and prevent abuse and neglect.
Provided agency wide technical support for managing challenging and dangerous behavior.
Co-created and facilitated the first social skills group for children with autism in central Illinois.
McBride, B.A., Curtiss, S.L., Uchima, K., Laxman, D. J., Santos, R. M., Weglarz-Ward, J., Dyer, W. J., Jeans, L. M., & Kern, J. (in press). Father involvement in early intervention: Exploring the gap between service providers’ perceptions and practices. Journal of Early Intervention.
Curtiss, S.L., & Ebata, A.T. (2016) Building capacity to deliver sex education to individuals with autism. Sexuality and Disability, 34, 27-47. doi: 10.1007/s11195-016-9429-9
Curtiss, S.L., Pearson, J.N., Akamoglu, Y., Wolowiet-Fisher, K., Snodgrass, M.R., Meyer, L.E., Meadan, H., & Halle, J.W. (2016). Bringing instructional strategies home: Essential questions for reaching parents from a distance. Teaching Exceptional Children,48, 159 – 167. doi: 10.1177/0040059915605816
Laxman, D. J., McBride, B. A., Jeans, L. M., Dyer, W. J., Santos, R. M., Kern, J., Sugimura, N., & Curtiss, S. L. (2015). Father involvement and maternal depressive symptoms in families of children with disabilities or delays. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 19, 1078 – 1086. doi: 10.1007/s10995-014-1608-7
Huges, R., Bowers, J., Mitchell, E.T., Curtiss, S.L., & Ebata, A.T. (2012). Developing Online Family Life Prevention and Education Program. Family Relations, 61, 711-727. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2012.00737.x
Edited Book Chapters
Ebata, A. T., Dennis, S., & Curtiss, S.L. (in press). Family life education on the technological frontier. In S.F. Duncan & H.W. Goddard (eds.), Family life education (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Hughes, R., Ebata, A.T., Bowers, J., Mitchell, E.T., & Curtiss, S.L. (2015). Strategies for designing family life education programs. In M.J. Walcheski & J.S. Reinke (eds.), Family life education: The practice of family science (3rd ed.).
Curtiss, S.L., Hughes, R., & Bowers, J. (2014). Information Age. In L. Ganong & M. Coleman (Eds.), Social history of American families: An encyclopedia. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Mitchell, E.T., Hughes, R., & Curtiss, S.L. (2014). Family life education. In L. Ganong & M. Coleman (Eds.), Social history of American families: An encyclopedia. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Curtiss, S.L., McBride, B.A., Laxman, D. J., Jeans, L. M., Dyer, W. J., Santos, R. M., & Kern, J. (in preparation). Understanding provider perspectives: Father involvement in early intervention. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education.
McBride, B.A., Curtiss, S.L., Kern, J., Laxman, D. J., Jeans, L. M., Dyer, W. J., Santos, R. M., & (in preparation). The Use of Multiple Correspondence Analyses to Better Understand Provider Attitudes Toward Father Involvement in Early Intervention. Journal of Early Intervention.
Curtiss, S.L. (2011-2013). The Birds and The Bees (asdsexed.org)
The Birds and the Bees is an integrated program for teaching human sexuality to individuals with special needs and autism. It has three primary components: (1) practitioner training, (2) materials for instruction, and (3) online resources and support. These components work iteratively to enhance the capacity to deliver sex education to individuals with autism and developmental disabilities. The practitioner training (a one-day workshop) was delivered through 10 workshops throughout the state of Illinois in 2012 to over 300 participants and adapted for Spanish speaking parents of children with autism. Instructional materials include an eight-week curriculum and are available for download from the Birds and the Bees website. Online resources include a website (asdsexed.org) and social media presence. The website is the most comprehensive online resource available on human sexuality and disability and contains general teaching information, curriculum, and resources for instruction. Social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr are used to disseminate resources as well as news and events regarding human sexuality and disability.
Curtiss, S.L. (2012-2014). Social Discovery
Social Discovery is a social skills program for middle school children with Autism Spectrum Disorder without co-occurring Intellectual Disability. It uses a triadic model of facilitation where the primary goal of the instructor is to enable and expand interactions between peers while strengthening existing and emerging social competencies. Although Social Discovery incorporates didactic instruction on social concepts, the emphasis is on developing friendships in a structured and intentional environment. Facilitators act as coaches prompting and reinforcing positive social behavior. This program was offered by The Autism Program affiliate of the University of Illinois in the Fall of 2012 through the Spring of 2014. Sessions lasted from 8 to 10 weeks with the opportunity to re-enroll. The program was also extended to include a one week summer camp: Career Discovery.
McBride, B., Curtiss, S.L., Santos, R., Laxman, D., Jeans, L., Weglarz-Ward, J., Dyer, J., & Kern, J. (2015, March). Father involvement in early intervention: Identifying the barriers. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Child Development’s Biennial Meeting. Philadelphia, PA.
Curtiss, S.L., Akamoglu, Y., Pearson, J.,& Fisher, K.W., Meyer, M.L., Snodgrass, M.R., Chung, M.Y., Meadan, H., & Halle, J.W. (2015, January) Supporting parents of children with autism at a distance: Implications for practice. Poster to be presented at the annual conference on Autism, Intellectual Disability, and Developmental Disabilities. Clearwater, FL.
Curtiss, S.L., Pearson, J., Akamoglu, Y., Fisher, K.W. Meyer, M.L., Snodgrass, M.R., Chung, M.Y., Meadan, H., & Halle, J.W. (2014, November) Collaboration with families: Using Internet technologies to support families from a distance. Poster presented at the annual conference of the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children. Indianapolis, IN.
Meadan, H., Snodgrass, M.R., Meyer, L.E., Fisher, K.W., Chung, M.Y., Halle, J.W., Curtiss, S.L. (2014, October) E-Coaching communication strategies for parents of young children with disabilities. Presentation presented at the annual conference of the Division of Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children, Saint Louis, MO.
McBride, B. A., Laxman, D. J., Curtiss, S. L., Santos, R. M., Dyer, W. D., Kern, J., & Jeans, L. M. (2014, February) Identifying the training needs of early intervention personnel: Family focused programming includes fathers. Poster presented at Conference on Research Innovation in Early Intervention (CRIEI). San Diego, CA.
Laxman, D. J., McBride, B. A., Curtiss, S. L., Santos, R. M., Dyer, W. D., Kern, J., & Jeans, L. M. (2014, February) The determinants of men’s parenting behaviors in families of children with disabilities: Targets for intervention. Poster presented at Conference on Research Innovation in Early Intervention (CRIEI). San Diego, CA.
Curtiss, S.L. & Ebata, E. (2013, November 6). Building capacity to deliver sex education to individuals with autism. Poster presented at the annual conference of the National Council on Family Relations, San Antonio, TX.
Ebata, A., Martin, S., Bowers, J., Curtiss, S.L., Isenstark, D., & Kim, Y. (2013, November 9). Parents’ use of traditional and digital sources of information and advice. Poster presented at the annual conference of the National Council on Family Relations, San Antonio, TX.
Curtiss, S.L. (2013, April 12). Promoting well being through online family life education. Workshop presented at the annual conference of the Illinois Council on Family Relations, Champiagn, IL.
Bowers, J., Curtiss, S.L., & Ebata, A.T. (2011, June 29). The effectiveness of email updates as an educational delivery method. Paper presented at the annual conference of eXtension, Louisville, KY.
Curtiss, S.L., Bowers, J., Ebata, A.T., Stone, M., & Lindsey, S.C. (2011, November 18). Developing and evaluating a social media strategy for online parenting programs. Paper presented at the annual conference of the National Council on Family Relations, Orlando, FL.
Hughes, R., Bowers, J., Curtiss, S.L., Ebata, A.T., & Michell, E.T. (2011, November 18). Program development issues in designing online family life education programs. Paper presented at the annual conference of the National council on Family Relations, Orlando, FL.
Curtiss, S.L. (2016, October 25). The birds and the bees: Using human sexuality education as a strategy for autism acceptance. Invited talk at Champaign-Urbana Autism Network Fall Conference with Temple Grandin, Urbana, IL.
Waters, M., Ebata, A., & Curtiss, S.L. (2013, March 6). Using McGraw-Hill Connect with Compass to enhance teaching and learning. Invited talk at Teaching with Technology brown bag series at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Honors and Awards
2010 Funkhouser Scholarship ($250)
2014 Graduate College Conference Travel Award ($250)
2011 The Susan Kahl Bates Leadership Award ($250)
2014 Joseph Pleck Outstanding Graduate Student Award ($100)
2014 List of teachers ranked excellent by their students
- 2011 – 2016 Member of the National Council of Family Relations
- 2015 – 2016 Member of the Societ of Research in Child Development
- 2014 – 2015 Member of the Council for Exceptional Children
- 2013 & 2015 President Emeritus of Human and Community Development’s Graduate Student Organization
- 2012 President of Human and Community Development’s Graduate Student Organization
- 2011 Secretary of Human and Community Development’s Graduate Student Organization
Qualitative data analysis camp: Three and a half days of analysis, instruction, mentioning and data work, Research Talk, Carrboro, NC, 2016
Structural Equation Modeling: Introduction and latent growth curves, Dr. Kristen L. Bub, Champaign, IL , 2016