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 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 is now helping mold the next generation of behavior analysts who will help individuals with autism learn and grow for generations to come.
Rajaraman spent 5 years at NECC from 2010-2015, including a year at the Mohamed bin Rashid Center for Special Education in Abu Dhabi. In that time he grew as an educator and behavior analysis completing the Simmons University master’s degree partnership and becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) through the Western New England University partnership. Upon completion of these programs, and realizing he wanted to continue to develop his skill set, Rajaraman left NECC and pursued his doctorate at Western New England University.
After completing his doctoral work, which 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). His role at UMBC spans multiple functions, as he teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate level courses in their behavior analysis program and conducts behavior analytic research at the university.
“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 research staff member puts him in the position to mentor his students, aspiring behavior analysts who share his same goal of 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.”
While he does not know what the future holds, Rajaraman is excited to continue his work in the behavior analysis field. Regardless, Rajaraman exemplifies the very best of what NECC alumni do with their careers after their time at NECC. While not at NECC anymore, Rajaraman shares the same goal as NECC: to help children with autism learn and grow.