Shock Therapy Used on Children with Autism

Photo by Flickr/david shankbone

The Judge Rotenberg Center, located outside of Boston, has been under the media’s fire since their methods of reprehension for students were revealed.  The school uses aversives to correct the behavior of children who are acting out.  What kind of aversives do they use?  Skin shock treatment.

The JRC serves 250 students, from ages 3 to adulthood.  All students suffer from various emotional, psychiatric, and behavioral problemsChildren with autism are part of the group that is serviced at the school.

The school says that skin shock treatments are not administered unless a court and student’s parents have approved.  Although, now, both Mental Disability Rights International and the United Nations have fulminated against the school and their choice of aversives.

Manfred Nowak, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, had this to say: “To be frank, I was shocked when I was reading the report.  What I did, on the 11th of May, was to send an urgent appeal to the U.S. government asking them to investigate.”

The JRC and the doctor who runs this, Matthew Israel, aren’t budging on their position that their aversive therapy is safe and nowhere near torture. Israel said: “The real torture, is what these children are subjected to if they don’t have this program. They’re drugged up to the gills with drugs that cause them to be so sedated that they essentially sleep all day.”

Israel defends that the therapy is used on a case by case basis, and it’s in the best interest of children who are in severe danger to themselves.  The children wear the device in the form of a backpack or fanny pack, and the staff members are able to control when to send a shock to the child.  While Israel says that the treatment does not have side effects and is used to protect the child from being violent towards themselves and others, he does not deny that it causes pain.

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  1. Mary Bowles
    Posted July 11, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I believe that would leave a child with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Don’t you? A scary and unexpected and painful thing happening over and over again at random, that is what causes PTSD! These children can never get well from anything, or even learn maintenance behaviors, while this is happening to them. Not to mention causing anxiety, fear, distrust, attachment disorder, low self-esteem ,etc., etc. Those people should be SHOT. Not just lose their jobs, they should be lined up and shot. I’m SICK thinking of it.

  2. Posted July 11, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    this is just it what they may it’s still wrong no child should be punished such as this because of a illness they cant control.this is just totally evil no excuse for this

  3. Posted July 13, 2010 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    This is unacceptable treatment of anyone, especially children. What in the world is wrong with these people? This school should have been shut down several years ago after a student died from abuse. I know that someone can put a stop to this treatment of our children. Parents who agree with this treatment should be shocked several times for a week or so just to see what their children are being put through, as a matter of fact why hasn’t CPS stepped in here? I’m sure there is a good reason with all the flaws in their system too! This is just inhumane.
    West Georgia Parental Rights Examiner

  4. Posted July 13, 2010 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    two minutes of sheer pain must feel like it’s lasting forever. This is very sad.

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