Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Achilles' Heel Vulnerabilities of the Judge Rotenberg Electroshock "Treatment/Torture" Center

Before the dawn of democracy in the West, as I recall the pre-Socratic myth of the greatest of Homeric heroes, after the Greek siege of Troy, even Achilles would eventually fall.

So it will be when we #CloseTheJRC (Judge Rotenberg Center) through all legal means possible!

When he was born, his mother Thetis, a goddess of water, took the half-man, half-god Achilles and dipped him down into the river Styx, the borderline between Earth and Hades where the departed souls would go. As she dipped him, she held him by his heel and the waters coated around him a layer of protection, everywhere but his heel where it was untouched by Styx.

In the end of the Iliad, he slew the greatest of Trojan warriors, Hector, and dragged his corpse behind his horse-driven chariot back to the Greek encampment. The Greeks would eventually depart Troy with their spoils and head back home in the second and final book of Homer's epic, the Odyssey.

After Homer, in subsequent myth, Achilles was terminated with an arrow shot to his heel.

Now, JRC has any number of legal and public relations vulnerabilities. The advocates are onto them. It has taken some time because they wear a thick suit of armor, not to mention their lobbying funds, their public relations machine, their legal representation, and their alliances with the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) and Autism $peaks, who are allied with each other.

The public wants to know what is happening now. Rest assured, the work of the advocates is well underway, both publicly and quietly behind the scenes. Arrows are upon them and they will continue. Our aim is improving! We shall hit the Achilles' heel of the school of electroshock "torture." We are looking for more women and men who can sling up a bow and shoot a good arrow by any legalized and ethical means possible!

JRC will be shut down, sooner or later! It is the only option they will have, since it is much too late to teach them how to behave in a humane manner without "torturing" any more of their clients. Even the United Nations agrees they are "torturing" their "students."

They may not admit this as often, but their JRC founder, who was forced, as I recall, to resign in disgrace after being charged with destroying evidence during an investigation about them, Dr. Israel, former pupil of famous behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner, went to an ABAI convention in 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona and stood proudly before his Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) peers and announced his method for painfully shocking these poor disabled children and adults for refusing to obey a teacher's orders and for making a raucous in "class"! Blog reader, see for yourself, please! Go to the ABAI website, search inside the field boxes with "event # 403," and download Dr. Israel's symposium abstract entitled "The Use of Contingent Skin Shock in Treating Behaviors Other than Aggression and Self-Abuse." It is possible to go down below on this page, skipping down past the membership sign-in fields, to retrieve this document without being an ABAI member.

The advocates need the help of public users of social media groups.

1. To get the latest news on the latest strategies, join the Facebook group, Massachusetts Students United Against the Judge Rotenberg Center, please. The group has been awaiting this announcement of invitation to the public to come see what we are doing, to meet us, and to lead some efforts or to follow some!

2. Also, please see the Twitter hashtag #CloseTheJRC and help us make the tweets in the group go as viral as we can, together! Let's re-tweet the heck out of them!

3. Send the articles out to the Front Page of the Internet, Reddit, as long as we don't spam them with too many repeated articles. Check a subreddit before posting there, please, and make sure a post is relevant to the topic of a reddit.

There are tweets to New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, because the Big Apple spends $30 million a year of taxpayer money to send more youngsters to the "school of shock" than any other school district in the nation, and by a huge majority! Retweet away!

Among other appeals and petitions, there are also tweets to the FDA. One of their panels has recommended to the full FDA to ban the JRC shock device. There has been a report that the stronger GED's have been used by the JRC despite the FDA's warning to tell them to stop using it! And despite a similar warning from New York State, as I recall. So let's retweet to the FDA and get this ban started! See the FDA tweets in the same hashtag #CloseTheJRC.

We are looking for more JRC survivors to help sue the bottom line off their account books and sink them deep down into the red, but the time to sue them is limited, so we need the help of the public to get the word out to more survivors who do not know this.

I know of a case that never involved the JRC. A jury awarded a person six million dollars in the first ever fear of AIDS lawsuit. Someone was stuck by a needle left on railroad property, as I recall. Fear of AIDS was the damage done. Well a higher court lowered the payment substantially on appeal, but let us say to the JRC survivors, I would not be surprised to see a jury award a JRC shock victim ten million dollars if they were to include punitive damages against the school of extremely harsh punishments and penalties! Imagine a jury responding to the real and actual fear of shock, not just an imagined fear of AIDS! JRC at its worst even took knives, as it came out in an investigation from the New York State Education Department, as I recall, and JRC staff threatened a student with the knife, according to his self-report to the state investigation team. The purpose of the knife threat was to provoke him to become aggressive so that they could electroshock him for an aggressive behavior. This was supposed to teach him not to be aggressive. They called this the Behavioral Rehearsal Lessons (BRLs). If a jury is ever going to award a plaintiff substantial punitive damages, what about defendant JRC on trial again because of their own barbaric behaviors?

There are other campaigns seen at the hashtag. There are others not yet made public. Be of more cheer, but there is no cause to celebrate. We aim to save the current JRC students, but it cannot happen overnight, as we have learned, sadly.

I feel it happening, however, one pinpointed arrow shot at a time into the under-hides of JRC, and I strongly believe I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Related Posts

Long, Friendly Letter to Applied Behavior Analysts Across the Web

My One Day of Electric Skin Shock Versus My Thirty-Six Years of Anti-Psychotics

Association for Behavior Analysis International officially approves Rotenberg Center of painful electric skin shock "treatment/torture"

Anna Kosovskaya Escapes the Judge Rotenberg Electroshock Center



Thursday, June 11, 2015

Anna Kosovskaya Escapes the Judge Rotenberg Electroshock "Treatment/Torture" Center

Her Self-Reported Adventures
with Comments by Her Interviewer
"Therefore and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the Special Rapporteur determines that the rights of the students of the JRC (Judge Rotenberg Center) subjected to Level III Aversive Interventions by means of electric shock and physical means of restraints have been violated under the UN Convention against Torture and other international standards." (Juan Méndez, (2013, p. 85), the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)
Preface

The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC), located in Canton, Massachusetts about fifteen miles southwest of Boston, is currently the "only facility in the country that disciplines students by shocking them (Gonnerman, 2007)." It is an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) institution.

For many years the advocates have been striving to #CloseTheJRC. Many of them are still honing their skills on behalf of the children and adults who still attend the facility in hopes of a quick arrival of shutdown day.

Here are just some of the names and organizations behind the movement to close the JRC: 1) Mike Beaudet, "Investigative Reporter/Anchor at WFXT-TV FOX25 (on Twitter)" (sensitivity alert: graphic shock video), whose team convinced a justice to allow the public to witness actual JRC shock footage for the first time; 2) Gregory Miller, whistleblowing former JRC teacher; 3) Cheryl McCollins, mother of the JRC "shock victim" who sued the JRC and settled for an undisclosed amount; 4) Andre McCollins, her son (trigger alert: graphic shock video); 5) Jennifer Msumba, emancipated "shock victim" whose lawsuit is underway; 4) Benjamin R. Novotny, Esq., attorney for both plaintiffs, partner at Lubin and Meyer who can be contacted in Boston; 5) Shain M. Neumeier, Esq., eyewitness notetaker throughout almost the entire trial who wrote a seven-part report called "The Judge Rotenberg Center On Trial." 6,7) Laurie Ahern, President, and Eric Rosenthal, Esq., Executive Director, authors of the Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) investigative report entitled "Torture not treatment: Electric shock and long-term restraint in the United States on children and adults with disabilities at the Judge Rotenberg Center: Urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture;" and 8) the majority of the sixty-three public voices who submitted documents to the FDA docket before the 2014 meeting of the FDA's Neurological Devices Panel whose "slight majority"...concluded (p. 4) that "ESDs (JRC's electrical stimulation devices) intended to administer a noxious electrical stimulus for the treatment of SIB (self-injurious behavior) and aggressive behavior presented a substantial and unreasonable risk of illness or injury."

Anna Kosovskaya adds another voice to the short list of JRC survivors with enough courage and fortitude to speak out. After this preface is her self-report on some of her life experiences before, during, and after the traumatic years she underwent at JRC. In the opinion of this blogger, Anna's work represents a major contribution to the unfolding story of what's really going on inside that place from the perspective that ought to weigh most heavily in anyone's assessment of the drama, the real-life experiences of the truly-free-to-speak individuals who were at one time the actual  "subjects" of JRC's and ABA's obedience training methodologies.

It is possible to scroll through this preface and go straight to her interview and still understand her story. By reading into the preface, however, it is hoped that the visitor to this blog can gain some additional insights into some of the issues behind it.

What Is and Isn't Applied Behavior Analysis?

It is not necessary to call ABA a science. It is foremost a profession. It can also be called a set of scientific technologies, methods, or models used by practitioners who receive an average annual salary of $50,000 to modify the behaviors of people they decide are "problems of social importance."

Its more ethical sister profession is called Positive Behavioral Supports and Interventions (PBIS/PBS). While ABA is keen on punishment (see below), PBS is against it, theoretically (see below). PBS is more of an educational than a psychological field.

There is also a scientific profession called Neuropsychology which examines the inner workings of the brain as it reacts to surrounding environmental stimuli and events within which human and nonhuman animals engage their lives throughout their day-to-day experiences. They might take the teachings of behavioral science and analyze brain images of the reward centers of the brain, for example, as stimulated by the presentation of food during a state of deprivation.

A somewhat different branch of psychology is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It adds a behavioral science component to its thought-process focus.

Very different from Behavioral Psychology is the "Cognitive Science" of the "mind," however, the founder of the philosophy called Radical Behaviorism, B. F. Skinner, stood against the "mentalism" he witnessed taking place in cognitive psychology. (Please note, the B. F. Skinner Foundation is not an ABA institution.) He argued that the mind is an explanatory fiction. When psychologists focus on an autonomous, behavior-generating mind or a free will, they attribute internal events as the causal agents of behavior. This interferes with a highly observable scientific investigation into the true causes of behavior, the interaction of the organism with its environment, so he often said. He did not deny the existence of thoughts and feelings, however. He spoke of them as covert forms of behavior occurring under the skin, so just as behavioral technology can influence the rate of occurrence of overt behaviors, such as by encouraging an independently developing teenager to walk safely to Chipotle Mexican Grill for a non-GMO meal, it can also influence covert behaviors, such as by telling a fourth grader that she has memorized and recited all her multiplication tables correctly. A major difference lies in the degree of certitude people may hold in the existence of observable overt behaviors versus the often uncertain existence of the reputed covert thoughts and feelings spoken by one person to his listeners. So when Richard Nixon said, "I'm not a crook," and the television camera caught him clenching his fist, then it was fair of the public to doubt this self-report of his trustworthy nature. His covert behavior indicated he was not such a nice guy after all, despite his words to the contrary. It is the verbal behavior of the philosopher Sissela Bok that can guide the thrust of the argument at this point. She defined lying as stating a falsity while believing it's true. Nixon's critics spoke of such a covert belief. They examined not only his fist, but all his public actions, and charged him with believing his own untruths. The covert essence of the lie, however, makes it difficult to prove, so early in his career as a politician he became known as Tricky Dick and in 1974 the United States citizenry forced the 37th President to resign.

ABA is derived from the "pioneering" behavioral psychology experiments of Skinner (1938), initiated, for the most part, with his publication of Behavior of Organisms when he placed hungry rats into carefully-controlled mechanical "chambers," caused them to press levers contingent upon immediate mechanical delivery of pellets of grain (positive reinforcers), and then charted their response rates algebraically with the up-pips of a stylus, one tic per press of the lever, with which he drew various response-rate-curves across sheets of paper he mounted upon a slowly revolving drum. He discovered operant conditioning after Pavlov discovered classical or respondent conditioning.

Pavlov rang a bell and presented food; then he rang the bell without food. His laboratory dogs salivated to the food and the bell and then to the bell without food. Pavlov showed that preceding stimuli caused certain reflexes to act regardless of after-the-fact consequences, perhaps, such as in what takes place when the ophthalmologist's puff of air causes the eye to blink or the family physician's malott makes the knee jerk whether or not the doctor has been smiling at the knee jerks of her patients every time they show up for her malott.

Granted, Pavlov's conditioning plays a vital function in behavior. Pavlov's reflexes are "elicited", according to Skinner, mostly by internal organs and processes. That's what people feel, emotions excited inside them. Skinner's operant behavior is "emitted" by the organism who operates upon the environment, mostly through the musculoskeletal system. Some reflexes, however, such as the jerk of the malott tap are musculoskeletal reactions.

Pavlov's classical and Skinner's operant conditioning often occur together. For example, if a "teacher" at the "Judge Rotenberg Educational Center" "pinpoints" a behavior called "getting out of the seat without permission" by stating "you did not obey the teacher" and then shocks the "student" due to "noncompliance," then the teacher's verbal behavior is paired with shock and the child is classically conditioned not only to fear the shock, but also to fear the teacher. In the meanwhile, operant conditioning takes place and the "victim" wants to avoid and escape the teacher and the institution. Anna provides her readers with a living testimony to the "healthy drive" to escape the JRC, whether or not one is getting shocked.

Skinner showed how behavior can be controlled by its consequences rather than just by what Pavlov showed, how preceding events can cause certain responses to happen. So in Skinner's experimental findings the organism operates upon the environment which generates the delivery or removal of immediate positively reinforcing or aversive stimuli and events. The organism learns. Consequences are stamped into the body which play out again in the future during similar circumstances under which the original stamping in took place. It emits one specific behavior from among its entire repertoire of all potential competing behaviors. The particular response occurs more or less often according to the concurring schedules of all relevant consequences operating upon that kind of emission throughout the lifetime of the individual. So hungry people go out to eat Mexican food at a Chipotle restaurant. If the food is reinforcing, then they are more likely to return to the same place another day, but if it's snowing outside, they probably stay home and cook for themselves.

ABA today uses punitive or positively-reinforcing stimuli and events to try to “decelerate” the frequencies of so-called "problem behaviors" or to gradually shape, one successive approximation at a time toward end-result target behaviors, complex safety, communication, learning, and academic skills, for all kinds of populations, disabled and non-disabled alike, weak and strong, powerful or not. A child with the know-how can make a salamander come toward a delectable maggot she sets out in a dish on a front porch in a home in the tropics. Yet much more powerful than the simple food reinforcement of a rat or a reptile, through an extrapolation of what Skinner called "countercontrol," one can imagine how the populace can thank (reinforce) politicians with masse internet petitions and emails as soon as they serve their needs well. This would cause them to vote in their favor again and again in the future.

ABA method either uses punishment as a last resort, hoping in the end to diminish and eliminate the frequencies of unwanted behaviors whenever their then-known alternatives to punishment have been exhausted, but to no avail, as Iwata (1988, pp. 152-53) advised, or else ABA method includes punishment in the midst of intervention well before life-threatening scenarios ever emerge. In the latter approach, for example, Wolf, Risley, and Mees (1964, p. 188) punished and extinguished (completely ignored) childhood temper tantrums at bedtime by shutting the bedroom door during temper tantrum time while they rewarded all other bedroom behavior by opening the door during non-tantrum time.

ABA would call the reinforcement of the child's behavior during non-temper-tantrum time the DRO, Differential Reinforcement of all Other behaviors (besides the "meltdown.") It does pass the Dead Man Test: "If he can do it, it ain't behavior." Surely a man in a coffin cannot do all the little important things a toddler can do in her bedroom. The DRO is one of many non-aversive treatments for "problem behavior." This is one positive alternative to punishing the tantrums with a spanking, for instance.

ABA punishment is known to go to extremes, however, and there's no stopping them yet. To illustrate, consider Division 25 of the APA, called "behavior analysis." A group of dissident psychologists have reported that the ethics arguments of a group of behavioral scientists from the American Psychological Association (APA) "salvaged" the reputation of the George W. Bush Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib torture programs "after the public disclosure in 2004 of graphic photos of prisoner abuse by American military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq." More unconscionable ABA in action is JRC's use of painful electric skin shock contingent upon many different kinds of behaviors including "noncompliance" and disrupting the lessons in "school," not to mention self-harm and physical aggression. One is led to ask who is causing the "problems of social importance," the ABA therapists or their ABA "clients."

The JRC/ABA Electroshock Alliance

(Section title adapted from Lydia Brown (2013) who reported the "unholy alliance" between JRC and Autism Speaks, which is also allied with ABA.)

This past May, 2015, the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) "approved" the school of painful electric shock "treatment" as "being aligned with (its) mission." It also did the same official approval of JRC in 2014 (pp. 16, 21) and in 2013 (pp. 16, 23). This author's Google search went no further into the ABAI annual convention program book archives due to limited google results, but their recent program books have documented this fact quite clearly. How many years ABAI has officially endorsed ABA is still unknown to this blogger.

ABA has been shocking people since at least as far back as 1965 when Life Magazine covered Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas who eventually went on to create the Discrete Trial Training (DTT) methodology which ABA uses today on very young autistic children. (See below.) In '65 he tried to treat "Pamela," a nine-year-old autistic girl, in a UCLA laboratory, and "to give her something to be anxious about, she was taken to the shock room, where the floor is laced with metallic strips. Two electrodes were put on her bare back, and her shoes removed. When she resumed her habit of staring at her hand, Lovaas sent a mild jolt of current through the floor into her bare feet (Grant, 1965)."
"In the (Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis) JABA 1(1), Baer, Wolf, and Risley (1968) wrote their frequently cited 'Some Current Dimensions of ABA' and set the tone and scientific guidelines for the ABA age to come. The popular-norm-of-the-day became and remains chief among ABA standards for their ethical judgments regarding what constitutes a 'socially important behavior problem,' what they had set out to 'solve.' They explicitly valued heterosexuality in Current Dimensions to the implied degradation of homosexuality. ABA had also been known to 'treat' the imagined 'sin' of feminine boy mannerisms. (See Dawson, 2004.) In the same inaugural issue of JABA, the very same Todd Risley (1968) of the Dimensions article published an experiment for torturing away the “autistic behaviors” of a so-called 'deviant child.' What did she do wrong? He electro-shocked the young girl and told her mother to spank her for climbing upon the precious family furniture - and she acted like a "freak," which is a cruel word from back in the day." Dave Jersey (2015)
In addition to Lovaas and Risley, Dr.  Brian A. Iwata has presented another predominant ABA personality into the record books of ABA shock. To demonstrate the kind of clout he carries over his ABA followers, he once co-authored a landmark paper entitled "Toward a functional analysis of self-injury (Iwata et al., 1982/1994 reprint)" with which his team of authors established functional analysis as a standard ABA behavioral assessment tool. Practitioners today use their data collection and measurement tool to determine specific environmental versus internal "determinants" of unwanted behaviors (Iwata and Dozier, 2008, abstract).

For example, an Iwata-style assessment of a child's "elopement" from a classroom can show that the "cause" of so-called "running away" is to escape from a behavior analyst or a teacher and her commandments to carry out menial ABA tasks, such as one who makes a young boy intensively stack blocks on a table in rapidly successive discrete trials while she forces him to sit still in a chair without moving his arms in any other manner except the manner in which she orders the movements. (Watch the Discrete Trial Training video below.) So the cause of the behavior would not rest in unreasonable demands, it would be blamed on the child's exhibition of "escape from demand." Training for submission would follow. It would be "important" not to stop making demands once she makes more demands as ABA would consider this "negative reinforcement" of his escapism.

Iwata played a pivotal role in the development of the SIBIS, the Self-Injurious Behavior Inhibiting System. It was a shock delivery device. JRC used it before they developed their own shocker which they called the GED, the Graduated Electronic Decelerator. Iwata (1988, p. 153) said, "(The) existence (of the SIBIS) was partially a product of my behavior. My association with the SIBIS project has been in the area of technology development."

He and other scientists reported that they employed SIBIS upon the Self-Injurious Behavior (SIB) of five females and males aged 11 to 24. They said, "In each case, the behavior was forceful contact with the head or face, and treatment consisted of mild and brief contingent electrical stimulation, delivered automatically or by a therapist via (SIBIS) (Linscheid et al., 1990, p. 53)." Within the report they concluded that SIBIS worked better than the hockey helmet which had been used unsuccessfully by other institutions hoping to protect the head and face of Johnny, an eleven year old autistic head-hitting boy, also diagnosed with an intellectual disability (1990, p. 63).

Iwata also advocated an "apolitical" promotion of his shock device. Sometimes ABA practitioners treat SIB and exhaust all the alternatives to punishment they know how to use, he argued. The only options remaining, he said, were "restraint, sedating drugs, or aversive contingencies." Without explaining why, he ruled out restraint and sedation as too  "devastating." However, as this blogger has reported from first-hand experience, major antipsychotic tranquilizers aren't as bad as Iwata and JRC have made them out to be, especially compared to the nauseating shock he once felt as a young boy. Nevertheless, the professor from Florida continued, "The only remaining ethical action" was to punish SIB (Iwata, 1988, pp. 152, 53, 56), even with the SIBIS. 

So his response to children who hurt themselves was to continue hurting them until and unless they stopped doing it by themselves. He neglected to mention a much more humane solution, response blocking. A heavily padded, blow-blocking helmet and a soft pair of mittens would have solved the problem much more easily than SIBIS, but neither he nor his colleagues explored this common sense idea in Iwata (1988) or in Linscheid et al. (1990). What were they thinking when they invented their automatic head-blow-detecting, electroshock machine instead of designing a decent helmet?

Positive vs. Negative Programming

While ABA felt it was important to shock and to punish the subjects of their interventions, Positive Behavioral Supports and Interventions (PBIS/PBS), theoretically, started out by questioning whether or not punishment methods were truly necessary at all. LaVigna and Donnellan (1986) published Alternatives to Punishment and set the stage for the non-aversives movement which has led ABA dissidents away from ABA and toward its gentle sister profession, PBS, which has discovered and analyzed a "wide array" of non-aversive, linear and nonlinear techniques for the management and prevention of challenging behaviors.

More recently LaVigna, (Affidavit vs. JRC, 2013, p. 3) said, "Professionals who have extensively used evidenced-based PBS over the past 25 years have reached a consensus opinion that punitive procedures are not necessary and, therefore, are not ethical." This is their theory, at least.

Nonlinear PBS recognizes the existence of many relevant contingencies operating simultaneously upon a given behavior. One can imagine LaVigna advising parents to remove their children from poisonous environments and 1) to figure out how to support their needs, such as healthy food, adequate medical treatment, uncritical acceptance of honest expression of feelings, safe shelter, comfortable clothes, enhanced self-esteem, unblocked self-determination, and the freedom to aim high on the paths they set for themselves to become the actual persons they already know they're becoming; 2) to provide for their needs or else teach them how to acquire them independently; 3) if "no" is a reasonable answer, to teach them how to accept it and how to cope with disappointments, just and unjust alike; and 4) to support their children, not with small bits of food contingent upon submission to demands as ABA does, but simply because they love them. So PBS theory incorporates a major component that respects the dignity of the individual and prevents problems before they rear their heads.

On the other hand, parents of autistics often hire behavior analysts hoping they can solve unwanted behavior "problems" after diagnosis, as illustrated by Eric Larsson, founder of the ABA Lovaas Institute Midwest, who said, "They're coming to us because they want to cure their child. Just like you or I would do if we had cancer (Lerner, 2011)." Self-advocates such as Lydia Brown (2011), however, identify proudly as autistic and say autism is not a disease.

Unlike PBS with its nonlinear component, Iwata's functional analysis is exclusively linear ABA and relatively simple. Its ABC method for diagnosing the putative causes of unwanted behavior typically derives just one contingency as the main explanation of the target behavior's cause by observing, recording, collecting, and analyzing the data in a setting from: 1) the immediately apparent Antecedents to behavior, what they see and hear in the environment before an emission; 2) the Behavioral responses; and 3) the Consequences, the immediate addition or subtraction of the most prominent and apparent aversive or positively reinforcing stimuli or events. (See Potoczak, Carr, and Michael, 2007, abstract.)

Lovaas also ran DTT in an ABA line, one behavior at a time, in rapid succession. Watch, for example, this video demonstration of actual DTT sessions where the trainers seem to be saying, "'Do this!' Put the block next to the other block and then you get a tickle, whether you like it or not. Submit to my demand and put the next block on top of that block. Great job! You have earned your next morsel, ten sugary calories, and then a smiley face on a stick-um, and so on and so forth, ad infinitum."

PBS theory is also linear, but without coercive stimuli. This includes: 1) the DRO, Differential Reinforcement of all Other behavior besides the problem behavior, for example, by rewarding a person who is prone to injuring himself for physically not harming any person or thing, thus by rewarding him for doing anything else as long as it causes no physical harm; 2) the DRI, Differential Reinforcement of Incompatible behavior by reinforcing behavior that cannot possibly occur at the same place and time as the target behavior, for example, by playing ball in the middle of a room which is incompatible with self-hitting against a wall; and 3) the DRL, Differential Reinforcement of Low rates of response by rewarding an individual for a problem behavior as it occurs less and less often, for example, by rewarding someone who hits himself during successively lower rates of response in gradual approximation toward the goal of never hitting, so by teaching him to hit himself less and less often until he stops it altogether.

Unfortunately, however, a parent advocate reported to this blogger how PBS practitioners might harshly penalize school children who do not "cooperate." Positive punishment, as used and intended in ABA, but never used in PBS theory, adds aversive stimuli or events upon the emission of undesired behaviors in order to eliminate or reduce "problems," as in verbal reprimands previously conditioned by simultaneous presentation with shock. Under negative punishment, also known as penalty, PBS practitioners might withhold positively reinforcing stimuli or events, such as outings from school, from atypical children who don't follow the norms of the neurotypical majority and who "haven't earned enough tokens to permit them to go." So PBS can dominate in ABA-style and ostracize special needs children by keeping them away from events their regularized peers can go out and enjoy. Therefore, calling a program "positive" just because it only uses appetitive stimuli and never uses aversives does not guarantee it's even minimally ethical. Simply stated, a so-called "positive program" might manipulate the younger children, who are living while subjected to the compulsory school attendance law, by adding and then removing all the good stuff in life while "behavioral therapists" spare the rod completely, technically, but not spiritually.

So, "the Judge Rotenberg Center was established by Matthew Israel in 1971, as the Behavior Research Institute (BRI).... 'Treatment' at the school consisted of many different forms of punishment, including spraying children in the face with water, forcing them to smell ammonia, pinching them, slapping them, subjecting them to painful muscle squeezes, spanking them, forcing them to put hot peppers on their tongues, and forcing them to wear a 'white-noise' helmet that emitted static." (Davies, 2014)

JRC reported they first "employed" SIBIS in 1988 under its previous name, Behavior Research Institute (BRI). Then they invented the GED because SIBIS wasn't strong enough to stop all the behaviors. They still weren't happy and made GED even stronger. Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) investigators Ahern and Rosenthal (2010) said, "In the late 1980s, JRC began using SIBIS machines on students, as an alternative to spanking, squeezing and pinching.... Over the years, JRC has found that an individual who responds to low levels of electricity may become 'adapted' to pain and 'needs a stronger stimulation.'... The twelve year-old nephew of Massachusetts State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez was diagnosed with autism and was a student at JRC in 1989 when JRC began using the SIBIS machine. As described in testimony before the Massachusetts legislature, one day he received more than 5,000 shocks to stop his behaviors – to no avail. When the manufacturer of SIBIS refused JRC's request to provide them with a stronger and more painful shock machine, JRC developed its own mechanism for administering shock, the Graduated Electronic Decelerator (GED)... The GED administers 15.5 milliamps of electricity. A stronger version, the GED-4, subjects an individual to a shock of 45.5 milliamps."

According to Brown (2014), the GED-4 is "more than 15 times as powerful as the stun belts designed to incapacitate violent adult prisoners."

Not the least of their ABA technologies was their use of a knife to provoke "bad behavior" and then shock the child for emitting the behavior they intentionally provoked. This is called the behavioral rehearsal lesson (BRL).

"Students are restrained and GED (shock) administered as the student is forcibly challenged to do the behavior the punishment seeks to eliminate. JRC students are sometimes induced to exhibit a behavior for which they will receive a shock punishment. Students endure surprise mock attacks and threatened stabbings by staff, which compel them to react with aggression, fear or screaming – deemed unacceptable or inappropriate behavior – for which they are subject to more shock for their reactions. Former students report BRLs as particularly terrifying and some staff describe BRLs as difficult to participate in and dramatic to watch." Ahern and Rosenthal (2010)

“It was reported by a JRC staff member that one of the BRL episodes involved holding a student's face still while a staff person went for his mouth with a pen or pencil threatening to stab him in the mouth while repeatedly yelling, "You want to eat this?" – June 2006 report on JRC by New York State Education Department (in Ahern and Rosenthal, 2010)

"The worst thing ever was the BRLs. They try and make you do a bad behavior and then they punish you. The first time I had a BRL, two guys came in the room and grabbed me – I had no idea what was going on. They held a knife to my throat and I started to scream and I got shocked. I had BRLs three times a week for stuff I didn't even do. It went on for about six months or more. I was in a constant state of paranoia and fear. I never knew if a door opened if I would get one. It was more stress than I could ever imagine. Horror." - MDRI interview with former JRC student (in Ahern and Rosenthal, 2010)

JRC has also employed the "Portion Program" which Jennifer Msumba, shock survivor, has documented by saving her internal JRC behavior sheets. They deprived her of food satiation, dangled some appetitives in front of her nose, and short of enough "compliance," denied her the satisfaction of a well fed stomach. When she did eat a big chunk of calories, it was smothered in liver powder. Yuk!

JRC today implements what they call "unparalleled positive programming." It looks like they can abruptly undo all the positivity of a program with severe "Loss Of Privileges" (LOP) contingent upon emissions of unapproved behaviors, as Anna reported in her interview with this blogger. As spoken above in the paragraph about PBS ostracism through the denial of trips from special needs children who couldn't go out with their classmates, JRC's positive programs also involves the harsh use of penalty, which is not, after all, such a positive program. Anna describes precisely the identical trip-denial-short-of-enough-tokens-to-go-out contingency, but LOP is much more severe than just staying home from a trip, as Anna described.

In addition to LOP, JRC uses other methods of control not mentioned in this preface. Anna provides her readers with a long section about them in her interview below in this blog post.

As an afterthought to this section, is a caveat in the strategy of nonlinear prevention of problem behavior: Don't provide for any of the child's needs in any specific manner immediately following unwanted behaviors unless the parent wants the specific unwanted behavior immediately preceding the addition of a specific thing or event to repeatedly reoccur. Do it later, well after a problem behavior has appeared. So if a young boy in the market screams out in a temper, or sends a signal that a tantrum is about to happen if his mother does not meet his demand, such as the emission of a shrill-sounding, whining, or screeching, "Gimme that box of Cracker Jack®!" then she should not immediately provide a hug or a piece of caramel coated popcorn, unless, of course, she wants the tantrum signal to pick up where it left off on the next visit past the candy aisle the next time they're out food shopping together. So therefore, it's good to provide for needs non-contingently upon any specific behavior just because it's healthy, not because it's a way to control behavior, but not quickly after so-called "bad behaviors" happen.

As a final illustration to encapsulate this entire section, illegal graffiti spraying can be prevented by a cooperative parent and child or by a good community leader. Parent(s) need healthy, life-supporting wages/salaries and other benefits in order to accomplish the following action for the good of the entire "village." A Dad can take his daughter out for a nice pair of comfortable sneakers any other time except after a "spoiled-brat-sounding" demand for good shoes or except after any other kind of unwanted behavior, and especially when she asks nicely, if the she and her father both agree that polite ways of communicating are good for both of them to know how to do. That way she can go out and run and play sports or games in "appropriate" manners with her friends in the park and not get into trouble spraying graffiti on the walls because she's not happy at home or because her feet are sore from bad shoes. She can't be running in the park and spraying graffiti over somebody else's private property. They are incompatible behaviors.

In another approach to prevent the same problem, a humanistic psychologist, social worker, or neighborhood leader can direct young people to avoid a building which would make somebody angry and spray their artwork instead onto the walls of a building slate as approved for graffiti by a property owner! Then everyone's happy! Even gang members can be constructive and contribute in valuable ways to the well-being of a community. We need to recognize this too. The idea is not to judge behavior as good or bad but to manage it in ways that all parties can accept and use to avoid conflict.

To punish her after the fact if she does disfigure a wall somewhere in the neighborhood, is to create retaliation, revenge, or escapism, running away, taking drugs, or some kind of a hostile act. Punishment, therefore, is the true "pipeline to prison" and harms everybody in the long run, as people in jail are not rehabilitated in the U.S., but they do learn skills in crime, it is believed, and may go out and commit more upon release.

Therefore, coercive punishment is injustice. No justice, no peace. Support, reinforcement, and prevention are the less charted road on the way for us all toward the maximal freedom of all members the global village called Earth.

Advocates Contending with ABA, PBS, and JRC

Parent and Child Study Team ABA or PBS Advocates

Advocates need to scrutinize all ABA or PBS programs. So if a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), or any other kind of behaviorist, tells a father that punishment is important, not only as a last resort, but to control all sorts of unwanted behaviors, then two neon red flags should light up in his brain. He should save himself some time, end the discussion, and then search out another BCBA who practices true PBS deep down to its most ethical core.

If she says her work is very positive "because punishment is more effective in the event of an emergency or because she's exhausted everything positive, but they just don't work," then the parent advocate is advised to question the BCBA anyway, thoroughly, before deciding whether or not to hire her. She should show him a crisis management training certificate and explain precisely how she can de-escalate all parties involved at the first sign of trouble. She should explain how she uses the non-linear methods as included above in this preface. He should ask her to discuss how she uses "DRI and DRL" rather than the better-known DRO. If she cannot elaborate upon these initials, he should beware of a lack of training in the complete array of non-aversive methods. In that event, a single red flag in his head should warn him to proceed with caution.

She needs to explain how she obtains positive instructional control with no dissent from the child and how she reacts when her pupils tell her to leave them alone. He should insist she always respect his child's dignity and ask her to cite the case law that granted everyone the legal right to autonomy, especially people with disabilities adjudicated as "incapacitated."

If she speaks with roundabout jargon that indicates a faith in Skinner's unproven determinism, his belief that the true cause of behavior cannot be discovered when some other branch of psychology imputes the free choice of a mind as a phenomenon that generates behavior completely inside the thinking person, then he should ask her why the notion of relative freedom cannot fit into Skinner's philosophy of radical behaviorism and why the verbal behavior of behavioral psychologists cannot absorb the words of the U.S. Supreme Court which banned us from shouting "fire" in a crowded theater whenever we feel the urge to do so, even though we do possess the freedom of speech. Then he should ask her whether or not behaviorism is a cult, a religion of science.

If he does hire her, then he should attend, or audio-visually record, all sessions until she earns a respectable amount of trust. He should always grant his child the right to dismiss her, whether he's verbal or not, young or old, capable or incapable of an abstract power of reason. They should comply with an obvious with to get away from her if he cries just before she walks in the door, resists her moves, squirms in discomfort, wants to go back to his bedroom, struggles to stay in his seat, or wants nothing to do with forced eye contact or keeping his hands perfectly still, because she has the equivalent right to accept him or not as a consumer of the services she provides and because he is the primary stakeholder in the outcome of her interventions, the one whose voice is most important among all the voices of his child study team. At all his behavior change meetings he ought to sit at the head of the table, and then as she sets the plan into motion, if he dissents, for goodness sakes, she should stop what she's doing, go home, get back to the drawing board, and design a plan he can enjoy. If this approach isn't good enough, then an adult peer advocate with the same disability or disorder as the child, should sit in the secondary seat at the next meeting.

Pro-JRC Advocates

JRC has created a lever strategy for bypassing the dissent of their children to convince a judge to substitute his judgment or a "therapist's" judgment in lieu of the children's judgment and allow them shock the hell out of them, but their main network of support is a group of  vocal parents who have signed up their children for shock.

Anti-JRC advocates

The advocates and attorneys opposed to JRC have spoken well. Highly noteworthy is the organization called Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) which investigated JRC and appealed to the United Nations to label them a school of "torture" rather than a "treatment" center (Ahern and Rosenthal, 2010), and the U.N. responded favorably. (Méndez, 2013, p. 85).

Apolitical shock scientist Iwata and the Association for Behavior Analysis International gets political

Iwata (1988, p. 150-53) advised his ABA followers against any direct involvement in the politics of shock. The subject was too hot to handle. Their advocacy would block them from working as "shock therapists." Besides, he argued, it wasn't necessary for the scientists to promote shock. All they need to show is how "effective" it can be to solve behavior problems. "The client advocate, the parent, or, if necessary, the court will select for us the option of aversive contingencies."

So the the world's largest network of ABA professionals has not been listening to Iwata, their ABC leader, because JRC co-sponsored the May, 2015 San Antonio Convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis International and an ABAI committee "approved" its sponsors "as being aligned" with their "mission." They did it before in 2013. For how many years has their annual convention program book committee been approving JRC programs? This blogger does not yet know. 

The Disabled or Autistic Peer Advocates and the JRC survivors

In his aforementioned list of advocates, Iwata didn't anticipate another kind of advocate for the victims of shock. It's not the parents; it's not the so-called court approved client advocates, nor is it the justices who send them away for shock; it's neither the ABA experimentalists nor their Board Certified Behavior Analysts. Who is behind the powerful movement still fighting to #CloseTheJRC (Twitter). ABA must reckon now with the disabled and autistic self-advocates, peer advocates, systems change advocates and on top of the list are the JRC survivors. Some have already spoken poignantly over the years. Please listen next to Anna Kosovskaya. From out of the batter's box, she steps up to the plate.

Preface to Ms. Kosovskaya

As she recounted her history, Anna Kosovskaya was 28. She was a JRC client between the ages of seventeen and nineteen. She did not get shocked, as she tells it, but she sat there in "class," unable to help, forced to remain silent as she heard the screeching devices and the screams of her classmates. For, as she says, they are not allowed to move the conversation away from the staff. They are not allowed to whisper. Now, at last, with her voice out to the public, perhaps, if she chooses to take a lead, she shout out her voice to help the students with her newsworthy, eyewitness account of what happened behind the walls of the well-secured JRC residences and school while she attended them.

Ms. Kosovskaya's is a Papillon story of escape, except unlike Henri Charrière, Anna was never convicted of anything, wrongly or otherwise. Spanish has a word with no satisfactory infinitive-only English translation. "Aguantar" signifies to suffer the pain, to endure and to bear the suffering of the slings and arrows that offend us. In all my 55 years, I have never heard told such a powerful account of "aguanta y escapa," which she granted me me in our Facebook messenger interview.

So I dedicate my contribution toward Anna's work foremost to her, butterfly, papillon, la mariposa, and then to all her peers, the former and current students of the JRC, those disabled children and adults who were forced to suffer the powerful electric charges running through through electrodes fastened to their limbs, and to those there who did not get the shock treatment, but who sat there aghast at the injustice they heard. Lastly, I dedicate my work to those who allegedly died while under the care of his institution's personnel and to their grieving families who must live in the after shock, stressed out in trauma, in memory of  their children passed, never to see them ever again.

Disclaimers

This is a report of a former JRC student. It was texted from somewhat long-term memory. It is acknowledged that reports from long-term memory can have unintended  inaccuracies and mistakes. Of course, the contents in this post have not been proven by any kind of standard of proof in any court of law.

No harm to anyone's reputation is intended, nor any malice to any ABA person or organization or to any JRC representative. What is spoken is known or believed. ABA/JRC people are trying to help, apparently, and this is recognized, but they seem unaware of the severe harm it's fervently believed they've done. It seems like they believe they're doing the right thing and it seems that they're sorely mistaken.

As a gesture of goodwill, there is no request to the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) to remove the license of any certificated behavior analysis professionals associated with JRC or ABA or for any other kind of professional person to lose any credentials over this.

Furthermore, there is no voice of an attorney speaking here, nor of a licensed therapist, psychologist, or credentialed behavior analyst. The interviewer/editor/blog publisher is a volunteer disabled self-advocate, peer advocate, and systems change advocate, however, in this capacity as JRC peer support advocate, he is not officially representing the agency where he volunteers.

All written or spoken opinions of all voices by anybody anywhere in the post or in any other communication by the same people regarding JRC or the ABA profession or professionals is only an informal, unofficial, non-professional legal, therapeutic, behavioral, or other form of opinion. Any opinions that might be expressed is always told with the bottom line advice that anyone with a relevant question should always seek the advice of a credentialed professional whose official job is to handle the matter in question. Apparent opinions are always expressed under the common sense understanding that what is believed to be true could be a non-fact, a mistaken perception, belief, or memory.

This work intends, among other things, to help the relevant professionals and professions-at-large to improve, as it seems there is much room for betterment, for their own benefit, for the long-term sake of their ethics reputation as seen in the eyes of the public. Mostly, however, it is intended for careful reading by the anti-JRC advocates, along with all the other JRC reports and investigations, and then for a rally once again and the rescue at last all the JRC clients from what feels like a gross injustice.

If any reader of Anna's report knows of other JRC clients who are free to make some decisions, please tell them how they might want to contact Benjamin Novotny, Esq., of Lubin and Meyer, a medical malpractice law firm in Boston. He represented Andre McCollins, who settled a lawsuit against JRC for an undisclosed amount. He also represents Jennifer Msumba, who is suing JRC. She is a shock survivor and an outspoken survivor, a primary-source leader in the anti-JRC movement. The statute of limitations applies to potential JRC cases, so be sure to let them know before such a time limit expires.

Escape from the Rotenberg Center

Individuals

Speaker: Anna Kosovskaya of Facebook
Interviewer: Dave Jersey of Facebook
People Anna spoke about:

Therapist One at Hospital Two
Therapist Two, previously from Hospital One
School Two staff member: X
JRC tour guide, intake interviewer, and second case manager: Y
Anna's first JRC case manager: Z

A JRC staff member: M
A JRC psychologist: N
Anna's grandmother, mom, dad, and granddad
Anna's home instruction teacher
Jennifer Msumba, JRC shock recipient
Andre McCollins, JRC shock recipient

Places Mentioned

Anna's home
School One
School Two
Hospital One
Hospital Two
JRC main building
JRC residences
JRC van

The Report

Anna and Dave meet in Facebook

[Comments [in brackets] are the editorial voice Dave Jersey, who is also the interviewer and blog publisher of this post.]

Anna: I HATE JRC!!!!!!! I WAS AT JRC IN THE PAST AND I STILL AM VERY UPSET ABOUT IT!!! I SAW THE GROUP ON FACEBOOK TALKING ABOUT JRC.

Dave: Were you a resident there or were you given the "tour"? It's good to hear your words of support against JRC, Anna. Thanks.

Anna: Yes I was a resident there... and yes I was given the tour... I remember it was Y who gave me the tour I'm not sure if she's still working there though... I remember she didn't show us everything... just a few classrooms and the Big Reward Store... and during the tour I saw a client on the board... she stopped by a classroom and a client was tied to a board... he asked if he can get off... she replied, "not yet... you have to be completely calm before you can get off"... then they tried the mitt jacket on me during the tour and explained to me and my mom that when clients are violent they get put in it... they told her they only keep them in it until they calm down and then they are released as soon as they were calm...

Dave: Oh. I am saddened to hear about your experiences with JRC. When you received the "tour," was this before you were a resident there?

Anna: it was a tour before I lived there...

The family assesses JRC

Anna: I was living at home back then... that was before I went to JRC... it was my grandmother's idea for me to go to JRC... because I was on home instruction and my grandmother wanted me in school.... one day I was going through a drawer at home and I found the JRC packet... it was stashed away in a drawer at home... I found it... I was curious to see what it was, so I looked through it... then I showed it to my grandmother and she judged the place by the pictures in the packet... she was saying it looked like "a great place" and she thought it was the correct school for me... she called up my mom at work and told her, "we have good news... I think we found the right school for Anna"... and my mom asked what school was this... my grandmother told her...

Dave: You didn't want to go in the beginning?

Anna: no... she (my grandmother) was judging JRC by the pictures in the JRC packet, the one that was sent to us... something was telling me not it might not be good... the pictures looked pretty in the packet.... I didn't want to go... but then one day my grandmother showed the packet to my home instruction teacher.... and asked her opinion of JRC... the home instruction teacher said it looked nice... and then the home instruction teacher one day asked me to write down in a notebook the reasons why I do want to go and the reasons why I don't want to go... and I wrote everything in the why-I-don't-want-to-go more than the-why-I-do-want-to-go... I stated the food might not be good... I stated maybe I won't like it there... I stated that during transportation they might put something on your legs so you don't run away and so on...  then she called my grandmother in and told her that she asked me to write down reasons why and why I didn't want to go and she told her I gave good reasons for not wanting to go...

Dave: I see. The teacher was supporting you in the beginning?

Anna: no... I was on home instruction for a short time... and she was the one providing it...

Dave: So the teacher told your grandmother you had good reasons to not want to go?

Anna: yes... my mom was trying to find a new (school) for me because I grew out of School Two, the school I used to attend before JRC... this was before I even got to JRC... I wrote down those reasons as if I knew what JRC was going to be like before I even got there...

Dave: Right. You had no idea what it would be like. I think I understand a bit about your home teacher now. Sounds like not a bad person, this teacher. Maybe the teacher is not an important part of the story, though.

Anna: then why did she tell me I should go?

Dave: Oh the teacher told you to go?

Anna: she suggested it... she said the school looked nice... because she saw the packet...

Dave: I see. Then maybe not a good person, or ignorant, but should have done some homework about JRC.

Anna: she was just judging JRC by the pictures she saw in a book... but I am assuming she had no way to know what really goes on in JRC behind closed doors...

Dave: A marketing promotion is not enough to make a decision such as this.

Anna: I know...

Dave: Yes. I can see you seem intelligent.

Anna: just because the pictures in a book might look nice doesn't mean it's like that inside... and you never actually know how it's like inside until you go there...

Dave: The same for the current JRC website?

Anna: yes...

Dave: Thanks for your advice.

Anna: the website looks pretty... they show prom, water slides, and all of that on it...

Dave: I have no idea what it's like.

Anna: inside of JRC?

Dave: Correct. I was never there. I believe only the residents and former residents can say best what it's like there.

Anna: it's nothing compared to what I thought it would be like...

The Mickey Mouse Conference Room intake
The pre-admission tour (scroll down)

Dave: Can you tell me about your first day?

Anna: yeah... I remember Y asked me what I thought about coming there...

Dave: I see. Like an interview?

Anna: yes... and she showed us one classroom and the Big Reward Store... we didn't get to see anything else... and then after she gave us a quick tour of JRC... she takes me and my mom back to the Mickey Mouse Conference Room and talks to me... she asked me what I think about coming there...

Dave: The Mickey Mouse Conference Room?

Anna: yeah...

Dave: It sounds unusual. Surreal.

Anna: the reason they called it that was because they had a lot of different Mickey Mouse toys there... they were all over... I think they decorate the rooms like that to make the rooms look attractive to parents...

Dave: What did you answer to her question?

Anna: I told her I wasn't sure...

Dave: Did she try to convince you to go?

Anna: yes...

Dave: How?

Anna: she told me something like "I heard at home it's pretty boring... would you like to come here and make some friends?"... she said if I came there I could make friends...

Dave: Did you want to make friends at the time?

Anna: yeah... I did...

Dave: I see. It's not your fault if you said yes.

Anna: why not?

Dave: You were misled.

Anna: because I didn't know what it would be like inside right?

Dave: Right.

Anna: is that what they do to all the clients?... do they mislead them like that?... do they promise them things like "oh you'll make friends if you come here"... stuff like that?...

Dave: I don't know. You are the first client I have (texted) with, except Jennifer Msumba a little. Andre's mother said she had no idea when she signed him in that they would torture him.

[Jennifer is a JRC shock survivor. She spoke on camera during the JRC/CBS Evening News report. Andre McCollins is the former student whose mother sued JRC on his behalf. They received an undisclosed amount in settlement with JRC people. This Fox News report contains the courtroom video showing some of his 31 shocks in one day. (Sensitivity alert: video contains shock, restraint, screaming.) Fox News reported, "I never signed up for him to be tortured, terrorized and abused," Cheryl McCollins told the jury. "I had no idea, no idea, that they tortured the children in the school."

[Had Andre also escaped JRC under his own willpower by way of a hunger strike? Shain Neumeier, Esq., who witnessed the trial in court, reported, "Mr. Novotny presenting Dr. Price through questioning with the facts that Andre’s condition had continued to deteriorate, that he had become unresponsive and dehydrated, and that he had stopped eating – all things that the witness agreed were true, based on the record.  Dr. Price further confirmed that the only reason that Andre had been transferred to a hospital for treatment was because Andre’s mother had insisted on it herself, and had in fact come to the facility to take her son to the hospital."]

Anna: Y explained to my mom during the interview that if a client got restrained too many times at JRC, they go on skin shock treatment... I remember... I heard her saying that... I was in the room when she said that... I assume maybe Y thought I didn't understand what they were talking about, but I did...

Dave: Did Y know you could hear the shock talk?

Anna: yeah... I was sitting right across from her... and my grandmother was there too...

Dave: How old were you then?

Anna: I was going to be 17 the next month... during the tour they didn't show us a lot though, just one classroom and the Big Reward Store...

Dave: What else did Y tell you all about the shock and other things?

Anna: nothing... she just said if a client got restrained too many times at JRC they go on court approved skin shock therapy... my mom didn't say anything... she just shook her head as if she was saying okay...

Dave: Your mom shook her head up and down like an agreement or side-to-side like a no?

Anna: up and down...

Dave: Did your mother and grandmother already know about the shock?

Anna: I am not sure... the packet didn't say anything about it... but Y told them about it... I don't know why she would tell them in front of me though...

Dave: Do you remember your grandmother's reaction?

Anna: she was just sitting there listening... and I remember her telling them "Anna is very eager to go to school"...

Dave: Remember, even if you agreed after you knew about shock, nobody knows what it's really like until they feel it.

Anna: but my mom probably thought I would never need to be on them... I think that's why she shook her head...

Dave: I see. She was in some kind of denial?

Anna: yeah, I think so...

Dave: She thought you were well enough behaved to not ever get shocked?

Anna: yeah...

Dave: And did you have a chance to respond to the shock talk?

Anna: no...

Dave: Nobody asked you how you felt about this news?

Anna: no... I didn't really know what those were until I got there and saw other clients on them... all they asked was how I felt about coming to JRC...

Dave: But you heard about the shock in the interview and they didn't ask your opinion then about shock?

Anna: no... they were just telling my mom about it... they explained when a client gets restrained too many times they go on it... and they also said it has to be court approved before a client can go on it...

Dave: Did they asked you how you felt about going to JRC after or before the shock news?

Anna: after... in the end... and when I said, "I'll have to think about it," I could tell they weren't satisfied with my response... they wanted me there for some reason...

Dave: They are salespeople and they use a well-studied marketing campaign to everyone, including 17 year-old young ladies. [The blogger's assumption is that there has been a well-studied marketing campaign. He doesn't know this as a fact.]

Anna: yes...

Dave: It's not your fault.

Anna: why did they want me there? … they were calling pretty frequently asking my parents when will I arrive...

Dave: They have up to 1000 employees. They want money. They believe what they do is good and I believe they believe that. I believe there is often a history of other schools or places who expel students. JRC brags about their ability to take almost any student who cannot fit elsewhere. Was a decision made in your interview? What did you answer in the end when you were asked how you felt about going?

Anna: the last thing I remember was Y asking me about how I felt about going and then they showed us the nurses office... I remember my grandmother saying, "Anna can't wait to come here"... the nurse said, "oh good"... I answered that I wasn't sure if I wanted to go... I could tell she was not happy with my answer...

Dave: Do you remember how she showed she was not happy with your answer?

Anna: her face didn't look so happy... and she started to say, "because at home it's boring and you don't have any friends, would you like to come here and make some?"

Dave: I don't want to put words in your mouth. Can you use an adjective to say what her face did look like in addition to not looking happy? If you don't remember, that's okay too.

Anna: she didn't smile... she just looked like she wasn't pleased with my answer....

Dave: Okay. Unpleased.

Anna: she looked like she wanted me to say yes....

Dave: That kind of reaction can influence your ultimate decision.

Anna: yeah... and it worked...

Dave: Did you eventually consent to going?

Anna: yeah.... because of pressure...

Everyone told her to go

Dave: Can you talk about how you reached your decision in the beginning to go?

Anna: my home instruction teacher said I should go... and a friend... my psychologist and psychiatrist I was seeing at that current time both said I should go... one even said, "I promise you you'll love it there... if you don't, you can just come back home"...

Dave: Did anyone give you a different opinion?

Anna: my mom told my grandmother in the beginning that she knew about this school and it wasn't good... my grandmother told my mom she didn't know what was best for me if she didn't want me to go to such a beautiful school...

Dave: Are you over 18?

Anna: yeah... I just turned 28...

Dave: Did anyone give you an opinion at the time that you should not go?

Anna: everyone wanted me to go...

Dave: Did you want to get away from your parents?

Anna: yeah, the home instruction teacher also said it was nice and when I told her I won't go she said, "it's so pretty and there's lots of land there"... I think my parents wanted to get rid of me...

Dave: So you told your teacher at one point you didn't want to go?

Anna: yeah, she said, "how can you not want to go?"... she also said that Massachusetts is a very nice state...

Dave: You had a father then too? Where did he live?

Anna: yes I did... however he didn't live with me... he was residing in CA at that time... my father also told me at one point that I should try it out... he said that maybe I'll make friends there... so a lot of people told me I should go.... JRC was also calling my house asking my parents when I will finally arrive... they explained that I had to get some dental work done and then I will come there... and the day came when I finally left for JRC...

The first day at "school"

Dave: What happened that day?

Anna: some guy drove to our house in a car and waited downstairs for me and my mom... they told me it was time to go... I told them maybe I should just stay... they told me it was too late... "the car is downstairs... they are waiting for you"... it turns out he was not affiliated with JRC... he was just someone who picked students up to take to JRC... so I went down there with my mom to the car and I looked at my building one last time before the car drove away.... in the middle of the ride the driver stopped at a McDonald's and asked me if I was interested in buying any food... I said yes... my mom took me in and we brought food and then he continued driving... then he stopped after a very long ride and said, "well you guys are here"... then my mom walks into the JRC building with me... I walk in and see pictures on the walls... I saw a piano... and before I know it, Z, my then case manager, shows up and leads us to a different conference room... this time it had brown chairs and a brown table... he introduced himself to me and my mom, sat us down at a table, and then started telling us about my stay at JRC... he asked my mom for names of people to put on my phone call approval list... at JRC they had a rule that clients can only make and receive phone calls from people on their approval list...

Dave: What was his tone of voice?

Anna: it was fine... it was a brief talk... he just wanted to know who my mom was going to approve for my phone call approval list... and then he read a paper that was lying down on his table...

Dave: At this point you could not say who you wanted to speak with on the phone? Or could you?

Anna: he was asking my mom for some reason... not me, but my mom...

Dave: I see. That doesn't help you keep your friends outside JRC.

Anna: like he was letting her make those decisions like who I can and cannot speak with on the phone during my stay at JRC...

Dave: You were 17?

Anna: yeah, I just turned... Z asked my mom instead of me who she was approving... she approved [names deleted.], my grandparents, and the home instruction teacher...  and then he wrote it all down on my recording sheet... all JRC students had a recording sheet...

Dave: Did you have other friends at the time?

Anna: no... why didn't the case manager ask me who I wanted on my approval list? Why did he ask her instead?

Dave: Great question. I'm interested in learning how they treat the idea of client consent and dissent.

Anna: he was also reading me my rights while I was residing there at JRC... next thing he did was read a paper that was on his table... by his side... it was a paper explaining my rights... he read it, then brought it over to me to sign... he told me to sign my full name...

Dave: Did you read it?

Anna: no, I didn't get a chance to... I read just a little bit... he said I didn't need to read the whole thing because he already read it to me...

Dave: Were you considered a special education student from back home?

Anna: yes... I was in many different schools before JRC...

Dave: Did he tell you or ask you to sign it?

Anna: he asked me to sign it... I signed it...

Dave: Okay. Did you understand the rights?

Anna: yeah... then he asked me if I was ready to go to my new classroom at JRC... I said, "yeah"... he told me to say goodbye to my mom... I asked why... he said because she was leaving... so I said goodbye... then my mom and I leave the room... my mom said, "bye, Anna," and left... and I was taken a separate way away from my mom who was leaving the building to go back home on the same transportation that guy drove us on...

Dave: This part now makes me feel sad.

Anna: yeah... that was the last time I was going to see my mom for a while...

Dave: Did you love each other?

Anna: it was like she abandoned me there and went back home and got on with her life... my mom loved me... but I think she was disappointed in me... because my behavior wasn't pretty at home... I think that's why she gave me away...

Dave: I see. Did you love her?

Anna: yeah... I did and now I realize I treated her pretty bad at times and she didn't deserve it...

Dave: Your behavior at home was not your fault either. I can tell you why later.

Anna: so then why was I punished for it?... I was sent to JRC... my freedom was taken away... I was not able to see my friends from NY while my mom just left me there and went home and continued with her life...

Dave: I write a blog. In the introduction in the first paragraph I state a mission: To help make the world a less punitive place. There are better ways to manage behavior and punishment is not necessary to do it. This is what my research into ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) has found.

Anna: she was not the one locked up... she was free, home doing whatever she felt like... while I was suffering at JRC...

Dave: It's also okay to be angry at your mother and still love her.

Anna: how could she have sent me there?

Dave: I don't know. It was not your fault. It may not have been her fault either.

Anna: but my mom could have just kept me at home if she wanted to... she just didn't want to, so she sent me anywhere just to get rid of me...

Dave: Then it was wrong what she did.

Anna: she didn't care whether the facility was good or bad...

Dave: It's also okay if you do blame her. You do not need to agree with my philosophy.

Anna: but she did call me frequently to see how I was doing... she did visit me frequently and she took me for home visits... I remember on most of the home visits I gave her hell when it was time to return to JRC...

Dave: Do you want to continue with the first day?

Anna: yeah... the first day sucked... I was taken a separate way away from my mom and then Y awaited me... Y said, "hello, Anna, we've been waiting for you"... and then she took me to the Big Reward Store... I asked her why we were going there... she said, "a pizza party to welcome me to JRC"...

Dave: So they really were trying to help you make friends then?

Anna: I think so... or maybe they just wanted to give me a pizza party, like they do with most clients on their first day... then we arrived to the Big Reward Store and she asked me if I wanted anything to drink... I said yeah and she asked me what I wanted... I said PowerAde and she said they were out of it and asked me if I wanted something else... then she gave me a fake dollar, inserted it into the drink machine they had in the reward store, and out came a cranberry grape juice...

Dave: Your first token. You were rewarded for entering JRC.

Anna: and then she interrupted the other clients who were playing games on the machines in the reward store... She goes like, "guys this is Anna... she's new... this is her first day so we're going to have a pizza party"...

Dave: Your presence was paired with pizza by your peers.

Anna: they had the pizza already ready... because they were expecting me that day... but the pizza slice was very small though... and I got one or two...

Dave: You were not fully satiated by the end of the party?

Anna: no... I got two tiny slices and a Minute Made grape juice from the machine in the reward store... that was the welcome party they gave me... then Y said I could stay in the Big Reward Store and play the games on the machines...

Dave: Other clients also had pizza and a drink?

Anna: yeah...

Dave: Also two tiny slices for them?

Anna: yeah... it was a large pie and it was shared by everyone in the room...

Dave: When was the next time you ate?

Anna: I didn't eat until dinner time...

Dave: Let me take you off the timeline, please.

JRC behavior control methods

Dave: Was dinner offered contingent upon doing or not doing any particular behavior?

Anna: no... I was not on that program, but I knew some clients were... they had nutritionists come in from time-to-time changing the menus and taking stuff out...

Dave: That's what they say on the website. They are healthy-eating-conscious.

Anna: yes I know... they were teaching all of the clients to eat healthy... they even showed us eating videos on what can happen if you eat too much fast food... and they minimized eating meat from 1-2 times a week and the other times we had to eat vegan food... and they had a salad bar...

[In addition to the shock they gave her, Jennifer Msumba reported starvation-style JRC behavior control, delayed or limited food intake (which would make food a more powerful positive reinforcer.)]

[Anna tells the story of a girl she saw crying the next day after her pizza party.]

Dave: Was crying allowed to happen freely?

Anna: yeah... some clients were pinpointed when they were crying... if someone cried, a staff would pinpoint a behavior and mark it on their sheets... they would say the person's name and then say, "there's no crying without appropriate stimulus"... and mark it down on the client's sheet as a behavior... and whatever the consequence was, whether it was point reduction, etc., (and) whether it broke their multi-day or their less than a day... we had multi-days and less-than-a-days... these are contracts where we earn rewards for good behavior...

Dave: Please explain point reduction.

Anna: and we had point systems... almost every client was on a point sheet which means they had to earn things by points...

Dave: Points to spend?

Anna:  yes...

Dave: In the store at JRC?

Anna: in everything...

Dave: So points were added and subtracted?

Anna: yes... if you didn't have enough points you couldn't engage in certain activities... you had to literally purchase everything...

Dave: So you could "spend" the points to have the right to engage in certain activities?

Anna: yes... field trips were like 1,000 points as far as I can remember...

Dave: Did anyone run out of points?

Anna: well whenever you broke your multi-day you lose all your points... and you had to purchase getting reset too... I think it was like 700 points... maybe more, but I can't remember exactly...

Dave: So if you lose all your points, then what do you do? I guess you have to earn them all back by having good behavior and completing your academics. It's okay if you forget something. It's better that you try to be accurate about what you remember well, to the best you can.

Anna: yeah, when you lose points, you can't purchase anything... until you earn them back...

Dave: Don't tell me what you think I want to hear. And tell me the good and the bad things they may have done.

Anna: okay... I was not on a point sheet when I first got there... I was on immediate rewards... but after a while they put me on a point sheet... and when I told them I would like to stay on immediate rewards, they said, "no"... I asked why... they said because immediate rewards are for low functioning students... and every Thursday they had field day... but only the clients who were passing could go there... you have to earn points in order to purchase everything...

Dave: So a point is a token in their token economy, in ABA language.

Anna: yeah...

Dave: Please give an example of an immediate reward.

Anna: they offered me snacks in the classroom if I passed my program op...

Dave: So those without enough points were left behind?

Anna: yes... they were left behind and didn't attend field day...

Dave: What is a program op?

Anna: a program op is something on your sheet that you get rewarded for if you pass it... one of my program ops was to initiate a conversation with another client...

Dave: You said you wanted immediate rewards such as?

Anna: oh, they gave me trail mix, fruit bars when I passed those program ops, papaya seeds, etc., ... trail mix, too...

Dave: Did you need a program in order to teach you to start talking with another client?

Anna: well I guess somehow they knew that I had trouble communicating sometimes... so they made that a program op for me... they saw how I was pretty aloof during my time at JRC and didn't really speak much to the others... a staff would ask me to start a brief conversation with a particular student and when I did I was rewarded...

Dave: Okay. Did you want to start these conversations?

Anna: yeah...

Dave: Did you want to be aloof?

Anna: I was just not happy about the whole situation... that's why I was aloof...

Dave: Did you feel this was a necessary way to learn communication skills?

Anna: yeah...

Dave: So you can say this part of the program helped you?

Anna: yes... another program op I had was for a staff to pinpoint an unfair behavior on me and I had to accept the pinpoint...

Dave: Did you accept the answer willingly about no immediate rewards?

Anna: yeah... because my case manager explained I had to go on a point sheet... she said I could no longer be on immediate rewards...

Dave: Did you accept going on the point sheet willingly, without objection?

Anna: yeah... I didn't really want to, though...

Dave: Why not?

Anna: well because then I knew I would no longer get immediate rewards and instead would have to earn points in order to participate in certain things, like field day... that was 500 points... it was every Thursday... they would take only the clients that were passing and had enough points...

Dave: Could students on immediate reward with no point sheet go out on field day?

Anna: yes, as long as they were passing at least one multi-day... but on a point sheet you must have enough points to purchase it...

Anna: well, my first residence was Lorusso, the high crisis residence... it had girls who were violent and aggressive and the privileges earned there were very minimal... it was the most restrictive residence, a high-crisis-house with multiple staff with violent and aggressive clients... and the only privileges you got there was to watch a little bit of TV in your room or in the living room... the rest of the time we really didn't do much, except homework... the staff turned on the TV (one day) … (and the staff said), "she can't be watching"... the bus rides to and from the Lorusso residence were chaotic and horribly noisy... and almost all clients were restrained in some way during transportation... some had transportation restraints on arms and ankles, helmets on their heads as well... a few had handcuffs on...

Dave: Why is a helmet a form of restraint?

Anna: I guess because some of the JRC clients bang their heads...

Dave: I see. Please go on.

Anna: and some spit at staff, so I guess they try to prevent that by putting a helmet on their head...

Dave: Helmets can block spitting? [Section deleted.] The glass (on helmets) was to block spitting? Or plastic?

Anna: yeah... I think it was plastic...

Dave: Were the clients allowed to speak among themselves without staff hearing or recording?

Anna: no... it was considered a behavior... they would pinpoint "moving conversation away from staff" and it broke the person's contract...

[Jennifer Msumba provided the internet with a part of an "official" JRC (behavior) recording sheet. According to the document, she would "lose all tokens" for "whispering/moving conversation away from staff." The New York State (NYS) Education Department "conducted a review of JRC" in 2006. Their report said, "A sample of 12 NYS students were selected for review from the 71 NYS students receiving aversive interventions that included electric skin shock, food contingent programs and/or manual or mechanical restraints (Level III Behavioral Interventions).... The review of NYS students' records revealed that Level III interventions are used for behaviors including...'whispering and/or moving conversation away from staff.'"

[Anna reports an incident she observed. It sounded like staff members had provoked a client into anger. Then they restrained him with their bodies and with restraint devices. He asked the staff to calm themselves down and he cried for help. In the end staff restrained him on "the board." They did not shock him.]

Dave: (Did the clients) talk to each other about (this) incident ever, (whether or not their talking could have been) overheard by staff?

Anna: no... nobody got involved or talked about it... we were not allowed to... staff were always by our side listening to our conversations... if we spoke about another client, it was a behavior... if we were talking about someone else, they would warn us to "end the conversation please"... JRC was observing our phone conversations, too...

Anna: they put me on LOP (Loss Of Privileges) my first day... at the Lorusso residence...

Dave: May I call you Anna?

Anna: Yeah.

Dave: My name is Dave. I write mostly about the ethics of behavior modification, like JRC's entire program of consequences.

Anna: how did you learn about JRC?

Dave: Probably from the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. I have a delusional disorder and I allow my psychologist to reward me with praise. If I dissent from ABA, he must leave me alone or find a better method, or else he knows I might fire him. So I am only opposed to unethical behavior modification. In other words, if the client dissents, leave them alone.

Anna: oh...

Dave: I have a delusional disorder. I can get paranoid, but anti-psychotic medicine controls it pretty well.

Anna: but you've never been away right?

Dave: I was in a psychiatric unit of Georgetown University Hospital in 1979 for five weeks. I admitted myself voluntarily there. I was 19.

Anna: why do institutions exist?

Dave: There is a long history of institutionalization going back many centuries for people with so-called "mental illnesses." I don't know why they exist. People are so different from the norms they get sent away from society so society doesn't have to "deal" directly with them. This is not always the case today.

Anna: Yes... I've been to hospitals too... before JRC...

Dave: There was no other place to treat me safely. I thought people wanted to kill me when that was not true. So the medicine can make my delusions go away.

Anna: I remember my grandmother warning me if I didn't behave I was going to have to live somewhere else... I was never put on the board or on the GEDs (shock devices)... I remember being restrained into the mitt jacket... I had a behavior outside of the school building... they all dragged me into the school, took me to ALC (a restraint room), and then I got restrained into the mitt jacket while a staff was sitting on me...

Dave: I am an advocate. That is what I do, as a volunteer.

Anna: I started at JRC 11 years ago...

Dave: When did you leave?

Anna: two years later... JRC was unhappy because I left... they didn't want me to go... I one day just went on a home visit and didn't go back... and the staff from JRC came to try and get me... my grandmother actually wanted me to stay at JRC until I was 21... were you (a) JRC (opponent) when I was there?

Dave: I'm new to anti-JRC. I don't know when anti-JRC started. It became popular to oppose JRC about two years ago when Fox News released Andre McCollins' shock-on-the-board video.

Anna: yeah, I know that was in 2002 [The video was released more recently]... I wasn't at JRC then... I was still home... I started at JRC in 2004...

Dave: The world did not know as much about JRC until Andre's video went public. Now people are appalled.

Anna: I talk about JRC all the time in my new program and the staff all ask me, "what is JRC?"... like they've never heard about it...

Dave: You could also go on TV to talk about it.

Anna: they tried to take me back from my house...

Dave: Were your traumatized from what they did or by what you saw?

Anna: yeah, I was agitated in the situation...

Dave: Soldiers have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) because of what they saw at war.

Anna: I always think about JRC years after leaving and I always wish I could of made a different decision about JRC back then...

Dave: Bad memories of JRC?

Anna: yeah, I always think that my life would of been different had I not went there, especially when a staff would tell me to shower properly while standing outside the bathroom at the JRC residence... my case manager put a ridiculous plan in my program at JRC that I had to earn access to preferred self-care items by showering properly... and she told my mom that she was doing it to help me, not hurt me... she also put "failure to complete a proper self-care" as a noncompliance on my sheet... she told my mom the reason why she did that was to "help me learn how to properly care for myself"...

Dave: Did you not like that?

Anna: I didn't like that at all... I brought nice soaps from my home visits to use at JRC and I was not even allowed to use them... they made it something I had to "earn"... the only thing I was allowed to use was a stupid JRC tone bar of soap... the rest of my self-care products were confiscated, locked away, and I was not allowed to see any of them or use any of them unless I earned it... so then she told my mom one day that if I didn't learn to shower properly, they were going to move me down to the previous residence I was in... this was when I moved up to the Arboretums... I got out of Lorusso, then I went to Holbrook, then finally I got into the Arboretum residence... after I came back from a home visit, my case manager tells my mom I had two therapy notes... one is I was talking to a client on LOP (Loss Of Privileges) while on the van and two is she said a staff wrote on a therapy note that I don't shower properly, so the case manager told me that from then on I was going to have a staff member in the bathroom with me during self-care time to make sure I was showering properly... and that's what happened... they put failure to complete a proper self-care on my sheet and staff were watching me outside from the door to make sure I showered right...

Dave: Women or men?

Anna: women... and M one day shouted at me, "Anna, you know what happens every time you don't complete a self care properly... you break!"... yeah she was referring to (breaking) my multi-day (contract)... she meant failure to complete a proper self-care and I broke my multi-day for that... they had put that behavior under noncompliance on my sheet... and I told my case manager I didn't want them doing that... she said, "well what else are we supposed to do Anna? You need to learn how to take care of yourself... we need to teach you"...

Dave: oh what is a multi-day?

Anna: it's passing a behavioral contract where you pass and you get to participate in all kinds of rewards including field day and field trips... when you break your contract you go on LOP (Loss Of Privileges)... it means you can't participate in anything and must go to bed at 7:00 p.m.... when you are on LOP, you can't do anything, not even speak to anyone... on LOP you are not allowed to go on field trips, field day, to the Big Reward Store, nothing... you may not go out on the weekends with your peers at the residence... if they have a trip planned, you were dropped off at another residence while everyone else that was passing their contracts got to go out...

Dave: I see. How did you break?

Anna: I broke for stupid things... my first day I broke for getting out of bed without permission... that's what they broke me for, getting off my bed at the Lorusso house without permission from a staff... it was my first day at JRC and I got off my bed to put a shirt in the dresser... five minutes later (a) monitoring (person) calls and told them I got up off my bed and then they broke me...

Dave: They didn't like the way you showered?

Anna: no... they said I didn't do it right...

Dave: So they had rules on how to shower?  They criticized how you showered and then penalized you for not showering how they wanted?

Anna: yeah... they made preferred self-care items something I had to "earn"... like if I completed my self-care properly I was rewarded... the staff would take me to the cabinet, open it up, and I got to choose one preferred self care item... they would give me some of my lotion, perfume, etc., as a reward for completing my self-care properly, or a chance to use one of my liquid soaps during my next self-care, but if I failed or didn't do it the way they wanted me to, I didn't get to use those...

Dave: Can you say why you didn't like this?

Anna: because I feel it's not right... they wanted me to learn how to shower properly, yet all I was allowed to use was a Tone soap... they locked everything else up and didn't give it to me unless I earned it...

Dave: So I agree it was wrong. It's an invasion of your privacy coupled with over-controlling consequences to behave in private according to their demands, with consequences you didn't accept.

Anna: I didn't accept it, especially when my own case manager broke me... I mean on one side I understand they wanted me to learn how to take care of myself, but I think that was extreme to go to that case...

Dave: You didn't accept the consequences or any part of the (self-care) plan?

Anna: no... I wanted my self-care items back, but my case manager told me, "no"... she said I have to earn access to them by showering properly... and she also told me she spoke to my mom about this plan and she agreed... I was only allowed to shower using JRC soap, nothing else...

Dave: You felt you had a right to your own self-care items regardless of how you showered?

Anna: yeah... and how is that going to help anyways?

Dave: That is extremely controlling and unfair.

Anna: I know, but isn't everything at JRC like that?... that's one thing about living in an institution... things are never fair when you are in one...

Dave: That's what I'm trying to understand from people like you, the clients themselves.

Anna: they also took away all of my jewelry when I went on LOP... they told me wearing jewelry was a reward and I couldn't wear it while I was on Loss of Privileges...

Dave: I see. So you owned that jewelry and they denied it to you sometimes?

Anna: yes... when I was on LOP they said I couldn't wear it...

Dave: Is it hard to always not break contract?

Anna: yeah... they would break you for a "lie" or a "swear"...

Dave: That makes me angry. Please excuse me. Very unjust.

Anna: or anything on your sheet that is classified as a major behavior...

Dave: Did you own that jewelry before entering JRC?

Anna: yeah, I brought most of it when I was on home visits...

Dave: That makes me even more angry. How old were you when you left?

Anna: 19... I was there from age 17-19...

Dave: Did you have a legal guardian when you were 19?

Anna: a long time... I think my mom was...

Dave: Did she petition the court to have guardianship over you?

Anna: yeah...

Dave: After you were 18, your mother became your legal guardian? By an order of a judge?

Anna: yeah, because JRC showed me the document where my mom made the decision that even though I was 18, I didn't have the capacity to make my own decisions... so that means that I couldn't sign myself out of JRC once I turned 18, right?

Dave: I think your mother had power over that decision. Full power? Not if you fought her over her guardianship power in court, I believe, (but, of course, it applies to all my opinions in our interview that I am not an attorney and only an attorney can say this with a respectable amount of certainty. I'm just a disabled peer advocate with an informal opinion.) Is your mother still alive?

Anna: yeah... but I didn't go to court... JRC never took me...

Dave: Then maybe the guardianship was illegitimate if you never had a chance to meet the judge who gave her the guardianship. I have no idea how it works in probate court, though.

Anna: my plan was actually not to come back to JRC after my first home visit... I was planning to stay home on my first home visit... but I got scared when Y, my then case manager, told me I had to come back... when I asked her what would happen if I didn't, she told me male staff would come to my house, put me into transportation restraints, and take me back to JRC... she also said that I would go back to Lorusso and be put on LOP for 6 months... so I went back to JRC on my first home visit, because I was worried that if I didn't return, what my case manager told me would happen would come true...

Dave: Where were you both when Y told you this?

Anna: I was at the residence... she came to the residence asking me if I wanted to go home for the 4th of July... so she warned that you better return or else... she said the consequences would have been - back to Lorusso, 6 months of LOP, and male staff would of came to get me and put me into transportation restraints and take me back...

The escape

Dave: So would you say you eventually "escaped"?

Anna: yes... my parents plan was to keep me at JRC until I graduated...

Dave: Six months of LOP is very long.

Anna: I assume that all JRC clients graduate at 21...

Dave: No. There has been man there over 40, according to their website.

Anna: yeah... so I got scared... I didn't want to go on LOP for 6 months or to return to Lorusso, so I went back, not because I wanted to, but because I was worried that would really happen, what my case manager said...

Dave: Where do you live now and with whom?

Anna: I live in Queens, New York... but when I was at JRC, I was living in Brooklyn...

Dave: Your mother was in Brooklyn then?

Anna: yeah...

Dave: Do you live with your mom now in Queens?

Anna: yes... she's the one who came with me and then left me at JRC... what happened was I eventually escaped from JRC by going on a home visit and not coming back... unless she called the police, I don't see how she could of sent me back... (So JRC staff) came (after me), but they couldn't take me back... I was giving them a hard time...

Dave: How old were you then?

Anna: 19... two staff came to get me to try to take me back, a male staff and a female staff, and I (defended myself)... they were running after me in a circle trying to catch me... I got off my bed and ran from them... they ran after me trying to catch me... the three of us were running in a circle inside of my room because they were trying to catch me and they couldn't, so they didn't know what to do... they were calling my granddad and then my case manager at JRC and then my psychologist and putting them all on the phone so they can try to talk me into going... because how would they have gotten me out of the house?... that would of been a challenge... unless they had a bed to strap me onto, I don't see how they could of gotten me out...

Dave: So they stopped chasing you and went on the phone?

Anna: yes... first with my case manager, then my psychologist from JRC, then my granddad... my psychologist told me to go back because I need an education... then my case manager called and asked if I was going back and the staff told her that I was refusing... the staff gave me the phone with my psychologist, N, on it and told me to speak to him... then they asked my grandmother for some water complaining that it was very hot in the apartment, because this was in the summer time... she brought them some apple juice... she went into the kitchen and came back with apple juice for the staff... because they were complaining they were hot... she wanted me back at JRC... I remember her yelling, "Anna what are you doing?!"...

Dave: You were an adult!

Anna: I know, but she never treated me like one...


Anna: and I was an adult at 17 too, right, when I started at JRC?...

Dave: I'm not sure. I think not until 18.

Anna: so I could have not returned at 18...

Dave: But older, non-adult teens have more rights as they mature I guess. If you found a lawyer to advocate for you, then you could have fought for your rights, I think, (but I am not an attorney, so I'm not sure.)

Anna: my parents didn't let me sign myself out at 18...

Dave: Did you ever see a guardianship document with your name?

Anna: no, I just saw the JRC document which they took to my classroom for me to sign...

Dave: Was the JRC document a guardianship document from a court? I guess this is hard to know.

Anna: yeah, it was something... [as Anna was recalling from long-term memory.]

Dave: Was that the paper you signed at the beginning of living there?

Anna: no... that was a year later... when I turned 18...

Dave: I see. They had you sign it?

Anna: yeah... they took it to me in my classroom and had me sign it without explaining what it was...

Dave: I am surprised they would ask you to sign it if you were (apparently) being declared incapacitated.

Anna: I know... they didn't explain what it was though...

Dave: I just don't know probate law at all.  Did you read it?

Anna: yeah, it said that my mom was taking legal guardianship over me... and what would have happened if I didn't sign it?

Dave: I don't know. Punishment?

Anna: so I guess that blew my chance to sign myself out at 18...

Dave: You read it and signed it under duress, threat of punishment. Not your fault. [An opinion of an advocate who is not an attorney.]

Anna: what would of been the punishment?

Dave: Signing a "contract" under duress is no contract.  LOP for one. Anything they can threaten you with. [Another informal opinion of an advocate. Not legal advice.]

Anna: I wouldn't have cared much about LOP... I mean after a while, I would of just been reset... anything like what?... what were they going to do if I didn't sign it?... Tie me to a board and shock me?

Dave: I don't know. But the fact that these are their threats makes your signature invalid to a contract, I believe. But I'm not an attorney.

Anna: I don't have a clue as to why my mom sent me there in the first place...

Life before Rotenberg

Anna: I felt like maybe God was punishing me... maybe he was trying to teach me a valuable lesson...

Dave: I don't believe that.

Anna: no?

Dave: No.

Anna: I mean before JRC, I didn't appreciate what I had and I do remember that... so now I'm thinking maybe God wanted to take it all away from me for me to see how it would feel to lose everything... I remember I didn't appreciate my home and my family before I was at JRC... so maybe he wanted me to learn that when you don't appreciate what you have, you can lose everything in an instant...

Dave: I cannot tell anyone what to believe about God. Nobody can tell you what to believe. My mother believed in a heaven with no hell. She said God is good, would never make a hell.

Anna: I remember complaining about my family and my home all the time before I was at JRC... I always wished I was somewhere else, even when I was at my dad's house... I was still unhappy for some reason...

Dave: Many people complain and don't go to JRC

Anna: I remember my dad giving me a choice to stay with him... I told him I didn't want to return to New York to live with my mom... he asked, "would you like to stay with me then?"... for some reason I said, "no"... and now I don't know why... he had a nice big house and all that... now looking back maybe I would of had a good time there... and I'm sure things would of been different... I wouldn't have went to JRC... none of that would of happened if I would have made the correct choice...

Dave: That sounds sad.

Anna: and since I chose to return to New York to go back to living with my mom everything went bad... My mom called the cops on me... I was taken to hospitals, etc...  then my mom took me to see shrinks and all of that... after school one day she took me to a Manhattan hospital (Hospital Two) and spoke to a social worker (Therapist One)... I was standing outside of the door listening because I was not allowed in the room with them for some reason... they wanted to speak privately and I was not permitted to be in the room with them as they spoke... so I eavesdropped... I had my ear close to the door trying to hear what they were talking about...

Dave: What did u hear?

Anna: my mom was telling her she could no longer handle my behavior at home and asked her for advice on what to do... (she told her) I was taken to the hospital but they let me go... then she told her I was hospitalized several times before... "call the hospital and have her sent there again," is what she advised my mom to do... then I heard my mom saying, "I will, next time... I will call them"... basically what she advised my mother to do was put me in the hospital... my mother also told her I did not like to take medications... because she also advised her to put me on medication... then I heard my mom tell her "she doesn't like to take medication"... then the next thing she said is, if that was the case to call the hospital and have me sent back there... then she opened up the door and invited me in... she spoke to me briefly... she asked me why don't I behave at home... I said I do... she said that's not what she heard from my mom... I asked her what did she hear... she said my mom said she can no longer control me anymore... she said my mom said I don't listen to her, (etc.,)... and then she warned me if I continued to behave like that I was going to have to go back to the hospital... I told her I was going to stop... she said, "promise your mother you wont misbehave anymore"... I looked at her and I said, "I promise"... then the social worker said, "okay, but remember I warned you... if you keep on misbehaving you will end up in the hospital"... then she sent us home... that was it... she told us goodbye and we left... and I remember she told me I had a nice mother before I left her office... she said I should respect her and be nice to her... and not treat her badly... then we went home...

Dave: The therapist should have taught your mother how to manage your behaviors. Without punishment. It can be done.

Anna: yeah, but she didn't... she just warned me to behave and told me I was going to end up in the hospital if I didn't... that was the advice she gave... she told my mom if I continued to misbehave to call the hospital... then we went to see a new therapist... her name was Therapist Two and she was working at a hospital where I was residing for a few months in the past (Hospital One)... and she remembered me when she saw me... she gave the same advice... she told my mom to put me on medications... and my mom said I don't take them... she told her, "then it's time for her to go back to the hospital and this time they'll keep her there forever because she doesn't behave at home"... and she recalled that I was in the room which they keep the severely mentally ill patients... and then she said I was severely mentally ill because I was residing in that particular room while I was there... and she told me if I didn't I will have to go back to the hospital... and then she said I have to start taking my medication... I told her "no"... she asked me "then if you don't want to take medication, and you don't want to go back to the hospital, then how do we solve this problem?"... I told her "nothing, I will just stay home and be good"... and then she looked at my mom and said, "you heard her right?... She promised not to misbehave anymore"... my mom shook her head up and down like she was saying okay... and then the therapist said to her, "if she breaks her promise and starts breaking things again, put her in the hospital again"... so basically she gave her that advice if I broke my promise to have me hospitalized...

Dave: How old (were you when your mom took you to Hospital Two to speak with Therapist One?)

Anna: I was almost 16... then my family seemed to like her and chose her for my therapist and we were seeing her more often...

Dave: Did you want her to be your therapist?

Anna: I didn't really know her too well...

[Anna began to tell the story of School One. She was bullied by a classmate and then blamed for an incident that was provoked by another classmate. The bullier tattled on Anna for something she didn't do. They put Anna in detention where she was bullied again by a third classmate.]

Anna: and then they called my mom in for a meeting telling her they have to find alternative options for me and a more structured school... when they called my mom in for that meeting they told her that they could no longer keep me at that school due to my behavior... the principal told my mom that I needed to go to a structured school... I wasn't thinking about what would happen later... I was just living in the moment... I just wanted to do my own thing when I was young... I didn't think of the consequences...

Dave: Like a normal teen.

Anna: I (told my mom and the principal), "I want to stay at this school... I don't want to move to another school... I like this school... no! No!"... he said, "well we can't keep you here... you must move to another school"... I got emotional (and acted out) and they had to end the meeting... they just said, "okay well since she's so upset... we are going to have to ask you to leave"... they sent us home... and I remember one of the teachers telling me,  "good luck in your new school, whichever school you end up going to"... I walked out of the school building crying because I knew I was not going to come back there again... I was thinking, "what if I don't like my new school? then what?"

Dave: Sad. Then you were thinking of consequences.

Anna: yes... I was thinking that I lost a good school and might end up somewhere worse... I was thinking, "what have I done?... maybe if I would have just behaved and stayed out of trouble, none of this would have happened"...

Dave: Sad.

Anna: so after that school I went to a new school called School Two... it was a private special needs school in (Greater New York) for autistic kids and teens... my mom knew I hated taking medications... so when she (eventually) heard that JRC does not give meds... maybe she thought, "oh this is just the right place for her then"...

Dave: I take medicine, not because of aggression, but because I'll be paranoid without it.

Anna: oh...

Dave: I guess the (family) decision to enter JRC was influenced by their claim (they can) keep clients off meds often.

Anna: yeah, I think so... they did tell her they do not give medication often... and she was pleased with that... I heard she said, "oh good, because my daughter doesn't like meds"...

Dave: And you liked the sound of it too?

Anna: yeah... most other schools always told me I needed meds...

Dave: Plus they say they take (almost) all (students) who are expelled from elsewhere.

Anna: like in School Two (getting back to the part of the story about life before JRC), I was frustrated one day and a teacher's assistant told me, "I think you need meds to calm you down"... I remember being restrained by School Two staff whenever I was having an aggressive behavior... the staff would put me in a time out room and they would go in there and restrain me until I calmed down, but not the way they restrained me at JRC... they didn't use the prone restraint method, not at School Two... they just had me sit on the floor and a staff would sit down next to me by every side and one would hold my hands and the other would hold my legs...

Dave: If you were already in a time out room, why did they feel the need to restrain you?

Anna: because the staff told me to calm down and I didn't...

Dave: But they can just close the door and leave you inside to calm down with no restraints?

Anna: they didn't want to let me go because they were worried I'd escape... they didn't use mechanical restraints... they were just restraining me with their hands...

Dave: But how could you escape if they held the door shut?

Anna: I don't know... in order to hold the door shut, they would have to stand there the whole time... the staff told me they weren't going to let me go until I was calm... and they kept me in there the whole day... and then came X, a staff, and asked me if I felt safe enough to board the bus and go home with my peers... so I told her, "no"... she said then she was going to have to call up my mom to come up and take me home from school... my mom shows up later and asked them why they called her to come and get me and why wasn't I placed on the bus with everyone else?... they explained because I had a bad day and they asked me if I felt safe enough to get on the bus and I told them, "no"... then me and my mom left School Two... she was talking to me on the way home, asking me why do I behave this way... she said I just got kicked out of the previous school and just got into a new one and was already starting problems... and she asked me, "when will it end?"... I told her I was sorry... she said, "I hope so"... then I told my mom I wanted to stop by a 99 cents store... she asked me for what... I said I wanted to buy a gift for (someone)...

The feeling of victimhood

Dave: I think your life was full of threats and mismanaged behavior. Not your fault. (You also experienced)  losses of friends and good teachers from the school you liked. Sad. A lot of changes. Not long in one place, it seems. That's hard.

Anna: yeah... I had to move to Brooklyn... and leave the school that I really liked... do you think my case manager Y was lying when she told me I had to come back if I went home for the 4th of July, or else...

Dave: I don't know if she would really have put you on six months Loss of Privileges (LOP). Maybe

Anna: that's the only reason why I kept returning there, because every time it was time to return to JRC after each home visit, I always thought to myself, "no I don't want to go back there... maybe I should just stay home"... but then I remembered my case managers words and always ended up going back...

Anna: I remember her telling me about the 6 months of LOP, residence change, etc., so I went back... she told me the consequences for not returning would of been 6 months on LOP, I would have went back to Lorusso... and I know I didn't want to go back to Lorusso... I didn't like Lorusso... Lorusso was so restrictive... at least in the Arboretums we had more freedom... at the Arboretums we only had four girls per house and one staff... Lorusso was the first residence I was placed... they start everyone off at the most restrictive house... if their behavior improves, then they go to a less restrictive house... that's how it goes at JRC... they go by a behavioral ladder... so they threatened high restriction if you stayed in your real home... not only that, but they threatened to send male staff to my house if I didn't return and take me against my will back there... my case manager told me that... she came to the residence on a DAR day one day to have a talk with me... two staff came... this was on my last home visit, the one where I wouldn't return... so that means that I escaped right?... if I didn't do the full time at JRC like I was supposed to I escaped right?...

Dave: Yes. Sounds like an escape.

Anna: but there's nothing they could of done on that day where they tried to take me back but I resisted... the day they came in a JRC van to try to pick me up...

Dave: I don't know if they could have tried more.

Anna: yeah... it would of been difficult...

Dave: You were very strong, emotionally.

Anna: especially since I lived in an apartment building...

Dave: You did well defending yourself. Courageous.

Anna: yeah, I know but I'm pretty sure the staff weren't happy... how would they get me in the elevator?...

Dave: It would have been a big public scene that they maybe wanted to avoid at the elevator.

Anna: so obviously my case manager lied to me... she just made threats so I would become scared and return to JRC...

Dave: They didn't call the police? Maybe they knew they were in violation of your rights.

Anna: what would the police have done?

Dave: How would they explain to the police as to what was going on? I think they were afraid to get the police involved.

Anna: why?

Dave: They fight many legal battles, lose sometimes, I believe. If you had an attorney at your age, you (could have fought) for yourself legally. [Informal opinion, not of an attorney, but of an unofficial advocate.]

Anna: so what would've happened if I did the same thing on the 4th of July visit? the one where my case manager said I had to come back, or else?...

Dave: the first visit back home?

Anna: yeah...

Dave: How old were you then?

Anna: 17...

Dave: How old were you when you escaped?

Anna: 19...

Dave: They might have called the police at 17 since you had less rights then, I believe, but I don't know probate law. After 18, normally, we have more right to make our own decisions.

Anna: but my case manager said that if I didn't return, male staff would of came to my house and put me into transportation restraints and gotten me back there, on my first visit, the 4th of July visit which I went on at 17...

Dave: So no threat of police then or ever?

Anna: no... just threat of staff coming over and getting me and putting me into transportation restraints...

Dave: Maybe you could have escaped in the same way then. But you had more rights later, I think, (when you were over 18).

Anna: I don't think they can bring those with them though...

Dave: Restraints?

Anna: yes...

Dave: Why not?

Anna: to a client's house?... how will they carry them?

Dave: What kind of restraints? In the mitt bag?

Anna: transportation restraints...

Dave: A mitt bag is heavy?

Anna: yeah, it was... mine was...

Dave: Metal?

Anna: they were posey type of things with metal sides...

Dave: Full body?

Anna: yeah... and they go on your hands and your ankles...

Dave: What means posey?

Anna: they were brownish and rubber material... and some of the clients wore those during transportation time... and some wore helmets in addition and some wore handcuffs instead of restraints... some clients also went into the restraint chair...

Dave: At the JRC?

Anna: yeah... some went on the board and some went into the mitt jacket... everyone was approved for different methods for restraint...

Dave: What was approved for you?

Anna: I think it was the mitt jacket because that's what they put me in when I had an aggressive behavior, but that was only once...

Dave: Talk about whatever you want.

Anna: so I could have escaped my first visit home?

Dave: Yes, I think so. But then they might have called the police since you had less legal recourse to challenge them in court at 17. [Informal, unofficial opinion of a disabled peer advocate who is not an attorney.]

Anna: called the NYC police?...

Dave: I think you did well waiting until 19.

Anna: Yes... would I have been able to get away with it at 18?

Dave: Yes. You had adulthood at 18. I think your guardianship could have been fought in court (even) if they really did have a legitimately legal guardianship over you at 18, (which I don't think they really did.)

Anna: my mom did... I think so... she felt like I wasn't ready to leave at 18 and therefore I wasn't able to sign myself out... because one day, they bring the paper to my classroom and I was asked to sign it...

Dave: Sign (the) guardianship paper?

Anna: yeah... from a probate court and I read it and it said my mom was taking over as my guardian... this was after I turned 18... they gave me a birthday party at JRC...

Dave: Yes. But you didn't talk to a judge or your own attorney?

Anna: no...

Dave: And you signed under threat. Duress. Invalid signature maybe. [Once again, this is is not the advice of an attorney, and neither is any such unofficial, unprofessional opinion expressed by either person speaking in this interview.]

Anna: they didn't threaten me, but I was afraid to not sign it... even if I didn't sign, then I still would of had to stay, right?...

Dave: Of course, they didn't say a threat, but the threat was real.

Anna: yeah, I know... they would of put me on LOP, right?... it would of been a noncompliance...

Dave: They gave you no real choice. Everything they did was to control your behavior, including signing. [Opinion.]

Anna: so that means I couldn't sign myself out at 18... if I signed that paper right?

Dave: Maybe. If you had a lawyer, but nobody offered you a lawyer?

Anna: no...

Dave: I don't see how you could have not signed and fought them legally at the time.

Anna: there would of been consequences right? like LOP? or maybe they would of moved me down to another residence...

Dave: Yes, illegal consequences. [Opinion.]

Anna: illegal consequences like what?

Dave: It is probably illegal to punish (or threaten to punish or penalize someone for) not signing an agreement, so I think they may have illegally punished you, but I'm not sure, since you did sign. The threat seems real. They are illegal to threaten you for not signing a guardianship agreement. If they punished you for not signing, they would have violated the law, I believe. [Opinion.]

Anna: but I signed... maybe I shouldn't have... maybe that was a mistake... but then I would have been on LOP...

Dave: But you signed, so no illegal consequence, but an illegal threat for not signing, so your guardianship agreement (if you are remembering correctly) has an invalid signature, yours. [Same opinion.] You didn't know. And they possibly would have illegally punished you for not signing. Then forced you to sign soon.

Anna: what would they have done? put me on the board?

Dave: I don't know. Was the board ordered for your plan?

Anna: I don't know... I was never put on it... when I did have a violent episode once, they did put me in mitts, but not the board...

Dave: I see. I think it would have been more likely an LOP, but we cannot know.

Anna: just an LOP? no residence change?

Dave: Or Lorusso also. Please listen for a minute. I want to say something to help you feel better, if it helps.

Anna: I didn't want to go back to Lorusso... I liked the Arboretums... they had the clients with the fewest behaviors and one staff only... there were no boards at the Arboretums at Lorusso there were..

Dave: I'll say it when you're finished explaining or asking questions.

Anna: I was always thinking what would've happened if a client had a violent behavior at the Arboretums and there was no board to restrain them to, and just one staff...

Dave: Lorusso restrictive, Arboretums not much?

Anna: more privileges at Arboretums... Lorusso was very restrictive and had violent clients and many take-downs... Arboretums was the house with the calm clients... and in Arboretums we had more freedom than in Larusso... for example, in Arboretums in the summertime I remember how they took us to a nearby playground...

Dave: Security systems to prevent escape in both?

Anna: yeah, and cameras everywhere...

Dave: Still sounds like prison in both (residences) to me... (since escape, what they call elopement, is not allowed.)

Anna: yeah... I didn't know that prisons have cameras in the rooms... so that means you are watched while you sleep... in the school they even had cameras in the restrooms... my case manager one day explained that those cameras don't show inside the stalls, just outside... then I asked her why they are there at all... she explained, "in case there is a crisis in the bathroom... so that way staff can respond quick"...

Eyewitness of shock

Anna: when we heard staff call for "help!" that was an indication that a crisis was about to arise... that means they were about to restrain somebody... sometimes it happened in the hallways... when we were returning one day from dinner, all of a sudden a staff yelled "everyone get out the way now!!!"… and then the same staff yelled, "staff get your clients out of the hallway... everyone go back to your classrooms!!"... whenever there was a crisis they didn't want the others watching... they would tell the staff to take everyone else back to their classrooms... they (took the client under crisis to) the ALC room... that's the room they bring the clients in to be restrained... when they were having an outburst... or the conference room... some clients went into the conference room and got put on a board and into a helmet...

Dave: Could you hear?

Anna: yeah, I could hear...

Dave: What did you hear?

Anna: I heard yelling, shouting, screaming often... I heard swearing...

Dave: Saying? Words?

Anna: "fuck you bitch," or I heard some clients yell, "get the fuck off me!"... I was assuming they were the ones being restrained...

Dave: Did you know when shock happened?

Anna: yeah, I heard the GEDs go off sometimes...

Dave: Loud?

Anna: yeah, it was a screeching sound...

Dave: Please talk about shock.

[Anna remembers and begins describing an account of a shock incident she had observed.]

Anna: all of a sudden a staff pinpointed a behavior on him and gave him a shock... he was screaming "OWWWWWW!!!"... I remember then (another) client got shocked for [Behavior deleted. Potentially identifying information.]... then as my classroom walked past the ALC room after lunch, I saw her in there and she was being put on the board... and then when we got upstairs... one staff said that he thought what they did was wrong and they shouldn't have put her on the board...

Dave: Staff said it was wrong? Please explain.

Anna: yeah... there were a few nice staff in my classroom, I remember... because I guess he saw them putting her on the board when he walked past the ALC room... in order to get back upstairs to our classrooms, we had to pass by the ALC room... and once I saw two restraints in the ALC at one time...

Dave: Some teacher heroes?

Anna: yeah a few were nice... I remember one would always talk to me and on field days she snuck me an extra drink... we were only allowed one flavored water for field day lunch... that was the rule... but that staff would always come to me and ask me would I like another one... I said, "yes"... and she would tell me to finish the one I had first... then she would tell me to hand her over the empty bottle... and then she would go to the can which had all the flavored waters in it and take one out and bring it to me... and then when I told her I wanted a different flavor, she said, "no, it has to be the same one so that way they don't know that you had two"... she could of lost her job for that right?...

Dave: Risked losing a promotion or lost her job. [Assumption.]

Anna: if someone saw her giving an extra flavored water to me when I was only supposed to have one, she would of been fired right?

Dave: Fired or reprimanded and written up. [Assumption.]

Anna: see now I know why she always got me the second drink with the same flavor, so that way no one noticed it was my second one...

Dave: Please talk about another time you saw or heard shock and how you felt.

Anna [remembers another incident, begins talking about it, and says]: and then I heard a staff say that he was trying to remove his electroshocks... I figured that's what he was shocked for... for removing his electroshocks...

Dave: For trying to remove electrodes?

Anna: yeah...

Dave: Shock victim restrained?

Anna: the staff grabbed him by the arm...

Dave: No physical restraints?

Anna: no...

Dave: Standing and getting shock?

Anna: yeah...

JRC staff emitting undesirable behaviors

Anna: (Another time a staff member) was having a conversation with me and then jumped up to grab that other client's arm... he wanted to know what was going on with me because that day I came on the bus with transportation restraints and he knew I normally didn't go in transportation restraints... so he asked me, "what happened why are you in restraints today?" I explained to him it was because I grabbed a staff's hand while staff was searching me before transport... he said to me, "you know you're on LOP now right?"... I said, "yes I know"... then he said, "I can't believe it... you were doing so well... you were passing multi-day #5 and you just blew it"... I didn't like that, to be searched before each transport... I felt like I was in jail when they did that...

Dave: How did they search you?

Anna: patted my arms, legs, asked me to shake out my bra and my waist and had me stand in front of a camera while I was being searched and I had to stretch my arms and legs open while they searched me... eventually, I gained independence so I was no longer searched, except for when I was returning from a home visit...

Dave: It's a Walt Disney prison with a Yellow Brick Wall between jail cells.

Anna: with rewards like hair salons and contract stores for people who were passing and earned it... and a Big Reward Store, field day... they did take us out to real trips too, I remember... my house, Arboretums we went on several trips... we went to the movies...

There's no use for blame

Dave: I want to say something that may help you feel better. All clients at JRC are victims, in my opinion.

Anna: okay... then why do their parents place them there?

Dave: The parents think it will help. [Assumption.] You were asking me if you made some bad decisions. You also told me that the staff asked you what you did wrong to be put on restraints.

Anna: yes she did...

Dave: I am trying to tell you that you never did anything wrong. They made you feel like you did something wrong. You were the victim. They blame victims. That makes it all feel worse for the victims. Much worse. [Opinion.]

Anna: So all I was thinking of when I was there was when will I finally get out and go home... I wanted to leave my first day when I got on the Lorusso bus... I noticed something was wrong when I saw almost all of the clients in restraints on the bus...

Dave: When you ask me if you made a mistake in your signature or in not escaping sooner, your feel badly because you feel you made mistakes. This comes from so many people through your life blaming, threatening, (penalizing), and punishing you. Such treatment will cause victims like you to get angry and act out, throw things, for example. So even your so-called "bad behavior" was not your fault, but they blamed you for that too, even when they caused it. Think about that. I'm not a therapist, but that's my opinion.

Anna: nobody likes spending the last of their school years in a place like JRC... and not only that but staying there after their 18th birthday...

Dave: Read this again and see if you agree with me that nothing was your fault and they were blaming you often. You, a victim before and during JRC.

Anna: yeah, I agree...

Dave: Before JRC it was doctors and therapists doing the blaming.

Anna: telling me to behave or else I was going to end up in the hospital...

Dave: I'm glad. Even though you think this way now, you may feel guilty or ashamed in a bad memory, though, but I am telling you, it is not your fault, nothing, ever.

Anna's new program at age 28

Anna: in my new program I talk about JRC...

Dave: You have a new program?

Anna: yes, a day program... it's nothing compared to JRC...

Dave: How is it? I was in a day program for two years.

Anna: there are no restraints, no boards, no electroshocks, no helmets, no mitt bags, none of that... it's good... I like it... I should have been there always instead of JRC...

Dave: Do you feel safe?

Anna: yeah..

Dave: What does your family say about it?

Anna: they think it's okay... the only thing they don't like is that I overeat there...

Dave: Do they approve of the placement?

Anna: yeah...

Dave: Great.

Anna: I always tell the staff I should have came before... they explained their program was for 21 and older only...

Dave: Then I think you are safely and successfully escaped from that damned JRC.  I'm happy for you.

Anna: I sometimes remember JRC though...

Dave: Congratulations.

Anna: yeah, JRC can't touch me now anyways...

Dave: You deserve a courage award, with a ceremony, and newspaper reports in celebration of your victory!

Anna: yes I do!

Dave: I'm honored to know such a great person as you!

Anna: am I the first?

Dave: May I send you a Facebook friend request?

Anna: yes...

Dave: I've never met someone with such an incredible drama of bravery with a happy ending!

Anna: what about Jennifer? bravery towards what? escaping from them?

Dave: I barely know her, but she is your peer of courage. Your escape.  Endurance. Self-control under the circumstances. Be happy if you feel like it. If I was your Dad I would say how proud I am. Have a good night, Anna.

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Reward and Consent , © is January 15, 2007 to the current date. All rights reserved (and stuff like that). E-mail me for permission to reproduce in part or in full. Please link to and cite passages quoted or paraphrased from here.

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I am an advocate for people with disabilities certified to teach special education with a Master of Arts in Teaching. I am not a Licensed Psychologist or a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. When in doubt, seek the advice of an MD, a PhD, or a BCBA. My ability to analyze the ethics of ABA stems from the fact that I am disabled and ABA interventions are often done to people like me, which I voluntarily accept, but only when I alone am the person granting consent, and not a parent, sibling, guardian, or institution.