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Jana Cutis sitting with her hands clasped under her chin on a chair, smiling

Jana Curtis, MA

Early Childhood Special Education

Jana Curtis is an early childhood special education (ECSE) consultant and workshop facilitator who integrates trauma-informed care with neuro-affirming approaches to empower educators and caregivers in meeting the social-emotional regulation needs of children. This fosters safe learning environments, reduces triggers, and cultivates positive relationships.

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BIO

Tips & giggles for raising ECSE littles

Effective strategies for educators & families
Neuroaffirming facts related to social & emotional impacts

I’m going to tell you a bit of my backstory as “giggles” is a huge aspect of my work. I aim to bring joy, laughter, and honest genuine care to those who sit beside autistic littles, which at times, can be no easy feat. Someone once said to me, "My adult son is autistic and there was nothing 'giggly' about raising him.”

 

My personal experiences have given me a deep understanding of the harsh realities faced by some autistic children and their families, particularly when dealing with self-injurious behaviors, aggression, sensory sensitivities, cognitive delays, and co-occurring conditions that can significantly hinder the well-being of everyone involved. I don't take this reality lightly.

 

I, myself, am suspected autistic. I didn’t make this discovery until I was 39 years old, after which I’d already built the foundation of my career as an educator utilizing a very out-of-the-box style. I've had an innate sense that the traditional education system can leave both adults and children feeling depleted in terms of their energy and vitality.

 

I have my own neurodivergent family members as well, and guiding them through the framework of our systemic structures and societal expectations has not been an easy task.

 

My experiences, especially teaching in a center-based educational setting for children who need extensive support and accommodations, have propelled me into the realm of advocacy.

 

I hold the belief that much of the pain experienced within the autistic community is rooted in the pathological model, which seeks to eradicate or 'cure' a natural variation in the human brain. With that being said, autism is in fact a disability and while the neuro-affirming movement absolutely serves as a significant positive resource, we also need to realize the complexities that many autistic people face.

 

My experiences have provided me with opportunities to learn proactive techniques and strategies to build deeply meaningful connections with autistic littles, even in the most intense situations.

 

As a workshop facilitator, it's been my honor and personal passion to share these strategies with educators and families to build their capacities. This is why I have decided to create a social media presence to spread these concepts even further.

 

I am just one voice, shaped by my own unique experiences. There are countless other voices from various minority groups, each with their own distinct experiences, challenges, and successes that need to be heard. My goal is to foster collaboration with these individuals as part of my commitment to anti-bias and anti-racism efforts.

 

Over the years, I've realized the vastness of what I don't know about autism is just as important as what I do know. Being autistic is a highly intricate and individualized condition. However, one certainty I hold is that all children, regardless of their neurodiversity, are, at their core, just children. They deserve to know they are valued and that they belong.

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