Improving Access to Autism Treatment

Although Robert (Bob) Littleton Jr. ’71 majored in history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he has kept an eye firmly trained on the future through his work in education. In 2020, he is shaping the future once again, this time through a transformational planned gift to the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS). The gift will support research into treatments for people with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities, and ways in which to promote equitable access to those treatments.

Bob began his career as a teacher in the Barnstable Public School District, with his work focused on children with special needs. “I found I had an affinity and enjoyed working with the population,” says Bob. “I was approached to work for the Kennedy Donovan Center, which supports people with developmental delays, disabilities, or family challenges.”

“From there I founded the Evergreen Center in 1982 to provide day and residential treatment services for children and adolescents with severe developmental disabilities.” He continued to create and lead numerous human service agencies, including Beacon ABA Services, Inc. and Criterion Child Enrichment.

Over the years, Bob has demonstrated how much he values giving back to UMass. He has served as a member of the SPHHS Dean’s Advisory Board and given talks on his work at SPHHS alumni events. In 2012 he was honored as an inaugural recipient of the UMass Amherst Salute to Service Award, and in 2017 he was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award.

Now, he has deepened his commitment to UMass through a substantial planned gift to SPHHS through the Kozma-Littleton Family Fund that he began with his wife, Wendy Kozma-Littleton. The fund was established to support research and work connected with equitable access to evidence-based treatment for low-income and minority families with individuals experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities associated with autism spectrum disorder.

“This gift was motivated by support from UMass alumni, friends, and volunteers, in many ways to honor their years of volunteerism,” says Bob. “UMass introduced me to a broader family and community, and this has enriched my life so much. I am very proud of UMass and want it to continue to grow and succeed.”

He adds, “We want effective autism treatment available regardless of income or class and hope that this fund will promote further study of systemic processes that may inhibit access.”

Having attended UMass between 1967 and 1971, Bob recognizes how his education was influenced by, in his words, “a time of tremendous social change. My thinking was shaped by this period.”

True to his background as a history major, Bob says of his family’s gift, “It’s important to realize how you were formed and try to advance that. It’s important to give back to others who have influenced and enhanced who you are.”