Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Please tell New York City Mayor de Blasio to stop Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) electroshock “torture” of disabled people.

Dear autistic and disabled peer advocates, parents of children with disabilities, and others concerned,

It's well known that parents of people with autism only want what’s best for their children and that’s often what they do. However, parents are people and all people make forgivable mistakes. So do the advocates of so-called painful electric "shock therapy."

The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) staff near Boston, Massachusetts, sends painful electric jolts by remote control to their patented skin shock devices worn on the backs of autistic children and others at the center. All they have to do is refuse to obey a staff command or disrupt the "lessons" and then some of them there get zapped. Ostensibly, the JRC founder, Dr. Matthew Israel, was taught by B. F. Skinner and he is just another of his followers in a profession that follows a scientific, yet occasionally highly unethical, practice of  behavior modification. The scientific practice is called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

To see directly what’s been happening inside the walls of the JRC, the scene in this video could be as bad as it gets, but maybe it’s worse. There’s been only one shock video publicly released from inside the JRC. Trigger alert: The images are graphic and perhaps some readers of this blog would rather not watch. The mother in this infamous Fox News shock event said she had no idea they would be “terrorizing” her son when she signed him into that residential institution. She said he was shocked 31 times in one day for refusing to remove his coat.

During the video footage of a CBS News JRC investigation, however, two parents of one shock victim said they appreciated the end results in their “better behaved” autistic child, but they said they did not witness the shock events (and undoubtedly the screams of their child) while they were actually taking place. Watch what the parents say at 3:55 into the video. The former JRC victim in the video has a different story about how she was shock-abused there just like the boy in the video.

(If your browser didn't let you view the CBS News video as embedded just above this note in this post, please visit the link here: Note: both the embedded file and the link to cbsnews.com both work in this author's Windows PC, but the video cannot be seen in either location on his iPad.)

Shock advocates, however, frequently disseminate incomplete information regarding the purpose of their so-called shock "treatments.” By their own admission, it’s supposed to be very painful. They often claim they limit its use to the protection from harm, from self-injurious behaviors and from physical aggression toward others. It is uncommon to hear them say they shock the JRC children when they disobey the orders of their “teachers” and when they “disrupt” the “educational” setting, but this is in fact the case. Dr. Israel (2009) has already said so.

Fortunately for the children, however, there is another newly targeted strategy that concerned readers, anti-JRC advocates, autistic adults, and parents of autistic children can do to help shut down the JRC for good.

By an astounding majority, New York City spends $30 million a year and sends more victims to JRC than any other school district in the entire USA.

We can do something quickly and easily on the internet to help JRC children as soon as we get this message. Please follow the instructions below and contact New York City (NYC) Mayor Bill de Blasio and tell him to stop sending so many children to the JRC. Then share this post or the posts of other leaders who hopefully will join this particular campaign and write their own petitions and group appeals to the mayor.


Contact the mayor in New York through his official contact page here.

And tweet a message to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Twitter account @BilldeBlasio here.


And add a comment to any of his Facebook posts here.


Here is something akin to what I said on his Facebook page. Please write your own message, but feel free to copy and paste any or all of my words. I claim no personal copyright protection to any of my content in this post.

Dear #NewYorkCity Mayor Bill de Blasio,

You alone are currently most responsible for sending more disabled children to the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) "school of electroshock torture" than any other mayor in the entire #USA. Kindly find other places to send them, places where these #autistic children want to go instead, not just where their misinformed, but well-intentioned parents happen to send them. You are supposed to be a progressive and progressives are supposed to be humane. On the contrary, unless you solve the problem, your behavior is clearly and extremely inhumane. The buck stops with the executive-in-charge, right? You are the executive in charge of New York City schools, correct?

Reference Notes

Dr. Matthew Israel (2009), the founder of the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC), spoke to an audience of his Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) peers at the 2009 Phoenix, Arizona Convention of the Ass. for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). It was entitled: "The use of Contingent Skin Shock (CSS) in treating behaviors other than aggression and self-abuse." He said in his abstract, "CSS has only rarely been used to treat other behaviors such as property destruction, noncompliance, and behaviors that severely disrupt educational and social development. We report the use of supplementary CSS to treat such behaviors in 72 students with severe behavior disorders attending a residential treatment program during the period 2003 to 2008.... During this study, new regulations of the New York State Department of Education required the temporary removal of CSS treatment for a period of 9 weeks, until a federal judge temporarily blocked these regulations at the request of the parents."

Since when has this kind of experimentation upon children been allowed? The United Nations has said the JRC violates their rights of according to the U.N. Convention Against Torture. (Méndez, 2013, pp. 84-85)

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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.