Nicholas Orland ’03 was working in Massachusetts when he saw an interesting job listing in Dubai.
He took a shot and applied. It was a logical move to pursue his passion—which he figured out after a few post-grad jobs
and a volunteer role assisting intellectually disabled individuals: A position managing a facility dedicated to working with children on the autism spectrum.
“To my shock, I was immediately hired, and in less than two months I was on a plane over to the Middle East,” Nick said.
Nick is a board certified behavior analyst and the managing director of the Autism Rocks: Autism Support Centre in the United Arab Emirates. He is also a Ph.D. candidate in the applied behavior analysis program at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. Nick holds a Master of Science degree in guidance and counseling from the College of New Rochelle (N.Y.) and an advanced graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis from Florida Institute of Technology.
He has lived in Dubai since 2015.
“There is no job more rewarding than working with individuals with special needs,” Nick said. He trains people from around the world on how to administer services to children, from his offices in Dubai. He also has taken the opportunity as an expat to learn cultural differences—such as gender-specific waiting rooms and gyms—and meeting new people and exploring new places.
“Dubai is the hub of the Middle East, and it is filled with super fun things to do,” Nick said. “We have deserts where I frequently go quading and sand boarding. I live very close to some of the most amazing restaurants with world-renowned chefs here in Dubai, but nothing will do it for me like a cheeseburger sub from Oswego Sub Shop.”
As far as working with individuals on the autism spectrum, the USA is a bit ahead in terms of a social agenda for autism, which affects 1 in 59 people worldwide, Nick said.
“As it is a ‘spectrum’ disorder, it affects everyone differently,” Nick said. “People who may be perceived as rude may in fact have autism and not pick up on appropriate social cues as we may.”
Nick said he always encourages people to consider the possibility of autism before rushing to judgment.
“Also, if a child is having a meltdown, please do not immediately blame the parent,” said Nick, whose doctoral focus is on applied behavior analysis and parent training methods in relation to children on the autism spectrum. “Parents of children with autism have a lot on their plate, and they need the support of the community, not the criticism of it.”
Nick said his goal is to continue to contribute to the body of research on parent training.
“Parents tend to not always get the supports they need, and I am looking to develop more evidence-based methodologies to assist them,” he said.