Like so many staff alumni from The New England Center for Children (NECC), Dithu Rajaraman, Ph.D., MSEd, BCBA, LABA, looks back on his time at NECC fondly. “If you asked me if I miss the direct-care aspect [of working at NECC], my answer is overwhelmingly yes,” he says. “I really miss working with clients.”
While Rajaraman’s time working directly with children with autism has (for now) come to an end, that does not mean he is done making a difference in the world of autism education and research. Instead, his role has shifted, as he now molds the next generation of behavior analysts who will help individuals with autism learn and grow for generations to come.
Rajaraman spent five years at NECC from 2010-2015, including 12 months at the Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Special Education in Abu Dhabi. During that time he grew as an educator and behavior analyst, completing the Simmons University master’s degree and becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) through the Western New England University program at NECC. Upon completion of these programs, Rajaraman left NECC and pursued his doctorate at Western New England University to further hone his skill set.
After completing his doctoral work, with both research and consulting across the country, Rajaraman began the most recent chapter of his behavior analysis story.
Today, Rajaraman is a psychology professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). In this role, he teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate-level courses in their behavior analysis program and conducts behavior analytic research.
“I consider myself so exceptionally lucky to be a professor, to be able to teach behavioral analysis, to be able to research in an area where there’s such a need,” says Rajaraman. “Maryland, and especially Baltimore, there’s a lot of need for behavioral services broadly speaking, and so I feel really lucky to be here.”
Rajaraman also considers himself lucky for another reason. His position as a faculty member and researcher enables him to mentor his students, aspiring behavior analysts who share his passion for helping people through their work. At UMBC specifically, this mentorship also relates to a cause he cares about deeply: diversity and inclusion.
“UMBC is not only exceptionally diverse in their student population, but values and sees the importance of diversity, inclusion, and social justice across so many different realms,” he notes. “One thing I noticed early in my career is that there aren’t many folks of Indian-American descent or South Asian descent in the [behavior analysis field]. We’ve all seen in recent years the importance of representation, how representation matters, so I’ve been particularly excited for opportunities to mentor students from diverse backgrounds.”
Rajaraman exemplifies the very best of what NECC staff alumni do with their careers after training and teaching children with autism at arguably the best center for autism education and research in the country. While no longer a NECC employee, Rajaraman continues the mission that first inspired him: to help children with autism learn and grow.
About The New England Center for Children
The New England Center for Children® (NECC®) is an award-winning autism education center and research institute. Committed to creating a world where autism is not a barrier to happiness, growth, and independence, our community of teachers, researchers, and clinicians provide comprehensive services including home-based, day, and residential programs, partner classrooms in public school systems, consulting services, and the ACE® ABA Software System (www.acenecc.org).
We are committed to creating an equitable workplace for our diverse team and providing industry-leading staff professional development opportunities, specifically with our on-campus graduate degree partnership programs. The result is a growing pool of autism educators and researchers that impact the lives of children with autism both at NECC and around the world. The New England Center for Children is based in Southborough, MA, and operates a center in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Learn more at www.necc.org.