Autistic kids subjected to shock treatment at Mass. school

An agonized young boy slumped over in his chair, covering his ears.

Autistic kids can face a difficult path in life. (Photo: Strollerderby)

The Boston-area special needs school Judge Rotenberg Center enrolls students ages 3 to adult, all of whom are either autistic kids or are struggling with severe emotional, behavioral or psychiatric disorders. Those students who display undesirable behavior, reports ABC News, are subjected to a treatment which the United Nations is calling “torture.” Judge Rotenberg students, including autistic kids, are subject to shock treatment.

‘Aversive therapy’ for autistic kids not torture, claims JRC

Calling the JRC’s treatment of autistic kids in extreme situations torture is akin to calling a physician using a scalpel on a patient assault with a deadly weapon, claim JRC representatives. They claim that shock treatment in short bursts is humane when compared with the alternatives of either allowing emotionally disturbed or even autistic kids to cause themselves or others physical harm  or otherwise medicating them into a lobotomized state. Head JRC doctor Matthew Israel told ABC that the real torture for autistic kids and others is the latter. He stated that JRC’s shock treatment “has no detrimental effects whatsoever.”

A two-second skin shock

The Judge Rotenberg Center uses a small device that administers a shock when necessary as a form of behavioral therapy, says Israel. Students are only subjected to the device after a court and (in the case of autistic kids) parents or caregivers approve. Allegedly, the short shock hurts just enough to dissuade JRC students from destructive behavior. After periods of good behavior, students are rewarded with points that they can use to buy prizes. In total, the Judge Rotenberg Center houses such students for $200,000 per year, taxpayer financed.

The U.N. and advocates for the disabled condemn the treatment

Eric Rosenthal, an advocate for the disabled, created a report that prompted the United Nations to become involved in the JRC’s activities. Massachusetts Sen. Brian Joyce has tried to shut down the Judge Rotenberg Center but has been unsuccessful. The United Nations reference America’s international treaty stance on torture when referring to the JRC’s shock treatment of autistic kids and other students. The argument is that if the United States shouldn’t be administering shock treatment to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, how can any home soil organization be allowed do it to children?


ABC News

Surgeon Sherwin Nuland discusses the development of electroshock therapy (Editor’s Note: A small amount of NSFW language is used):

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