Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Association for Behavior Analysis International officially "approves" the Judge Rotenberg Center of extremely painful Applied Behavior Analysis electric skin shock torture.

Action alert. 

Advocates against the school of painful electric skin shock "treatment," be advised.

This week in San Antonio, Texas, May 22 - May 26, 2015, at the annual convention of the “largest international network of behavior analysts,” the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) has a major official presence.

JRC houses autistics and other children and adults with disabilities and electroshocks them for behaviors as mild as cursing in class and popping their own pimples (See Davies, 2014, Sec. 3: Judge Rotenberg Center Today, Par. 4.) as well as for self-injury and aggression. The latter is possibly information which JRC spokespeople publicly volunteer much more often than they admit shocking children contingent upon their emissions of the long list of minor behaviors as reported by Davies.

For example, in the CBS Evening News video and text article, at 4:45 in the video and within the news text, JRC Director, Glenda Crookes, is only reported saying, “When you put that device on them, they're not hurting themselves anymore, they're not hurting other people anymore….”

In the text, CBS news journalist Amy Burkholder says, “Nancy Weiss, Director of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware … disputes JRC's claim shocks are only used for students with self-mutilating or life threatening behaviors.”

So in their May, 2015 convention Program Book, the Ass. for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) shows it has officially approved the JRC. It does have a disclaimer against their official endorsement of any presenter's content (ABAI, 2015, p. 5), but JRC is a "sponsor" (2015, p. 26) and an ABAI committee has "approved" such sponsors as "being aligned with ABAI's mission" (p. 19).

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the science of human and non-human behavior that uses rewards and punishments to eliminate or reduce the frequencies of behaviors the professionals deem to be "problem behaviors." They also teach skills and positively reinforce pro-social behaviors. In the past they believed they had the ability to prevent homosexuality (Dawson, 2004) which they had judged to be a "problem of social importance." (See the "social importance" term used by the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 2015.)

Now this lucrative profession is busy judging autistics as its primary target population. In January 2016, ABAI will hold its Tenth Annual Autism Conference.

Identity-first is more preferred than person-first language among autistic people, so it’s often better to say “an autistic” than a “person with autism." Proud autistic usage is different than the person-first language preferred by many self-advocates with disabilities.

Many behavior analysts depend upon punishing stimuli much too much, often unnecessarily and unethically, according to Gary LaVigna, BCBA, (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) who promotes Positive Behavior Support (PBS) interventions instead. (See LaVigna, 2013, Affidavit, p. 25. Also read Alternatives to punishment: Solving behavior problems with non-aversive strategies, LaVigna and Donnellan, 1986.)

In 2012 the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) protested against the JRC at ABAI's Seattle Convention. Then the United Nations called JRC's "shock treatment" "torture" (Méndez, 2013, p. 84-85). Then the majority of the United States Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) Neurological Devices Panel (2014, pp. 3-5) recommended a ban on the JRC shock devices, but the full FDA has yet to issue its decision. For the ongoing status of the JRC protest, see the Twitter hashtag: ‪#‎CloseTheJRC‬.

According to this week's Program Book, JRC is now prepared to present reports to their behavior analysis experimental and "treatment" peers who are now gathering in Texas (ABAI, 2015).

JRC is a "Bronze level sponsor" of the convention (ABAI, 2015, p. 26). The Program Book for this major, once-a-year event says, "ABAI Convention Sponsors have been approved by the Organizational Review Committee as being aligned with ABAI’s mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice (2015, p. 19)." So does this mean that with each more powerful shock device the JRC invents, the science is "growing" with new "vitality"?

In Symposium #55, JRC representatives will present a case for "Frequency Measurement of Stereotypical Behavior (ABAI, 2015, p. 87)."

ASAN (2013, p. 10) describes their own autistic stereotypy as follows: "We often use repeated motions, like rocking or flapping our hands/arms, to help us handle our sensory over- or under-load. These are often called stereotypies, self-stimulation, or 'stimming.' Stimming can make it easier to calm ourselves, understand our environment, and think more clearly." However, ABA has been trying to eliminate their stereotypy since the 1960s. (See Rapp and Vollmer, 2004.)

JRC will also present item 47: "Use of Computer Software to Teach Fractions (ABAI, 2015, p. 197)" and item 100: "Checking the Retention of Skills Taught in a One-to-One Setting (p. 250)." They also have a full page ad in the Program Book (p. 207).

Therefore, please tweet your opinion about ABAI's official approval of JRC to @ABAIEvents.

Also, please join theABAI Facebook group and tell them how you feel. There have been other disabled, non-disabled, and autistic self-advocates speaking out very well in this ABAI Facebook community of over 10,000 Facebook users. It is not necessary to know the language of behavior analysis in order to tell them how you feel about the ethics behind their behavior modifications. The behavior analysts often use their scientific jargon, but don't let them intimidate you. Some of them often talk about data, evidence, and science as just about all that's needed to support their arguments, but the ethics of ABA is above and beyond all that and they often neglect sound ethics in their talk about data.

Without reporting any "functional analysis" of this blogger's Facebook behavior, a few behaviorists have called me an "attention-seeker" and an internet "troll." If you don't like how they talk to you, don't attack them personally. Stick to the arguments. It's easy to block an offensive person's Facebook profile and hopefully you won't even see their profiles in Facebook any more. Most of the vocal members do argue the issues without being personally offensive. I plan to return to this Facebook group often to back you up if you do want to get involved in this manner.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

My one day of electric skin shock by a curious young boy who set his finger into a live light bulb socket was worse than 36 years of antipsychotics, which I happen to enjoy very much, just as many others appreciate them, according to my former non-coercive outpatient-only, private practice, non-clinical institution psychiatrists, while Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) claims its coercive methods are much better than psychiatric medication, which they ain't, not by a long-shot, if people would only listen to ABA's survivor victims instead of their biased, multibillion-dollar-operation dissemination groups.

Due to my delusional disorder, I've willingly taken antipsychotic medicine almost continuously since 1979. Before my diagnosis at nineteen, as a boy of about nine, I stuck my finger into a live light-bulb socket to see what would happen. I felt sick to my stomach. I hated it.

"The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) is the only facility in the country that disciplines students by shocking them, a form of punishment not inflicted on serial killers or child molesters or any of the 2.2 million inmates now incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons," said investigative journalist Jennifer Gonnerman in Mother Jones in 2007.

Let me tell anyone who claims that painful electric skin shock is not as bad as antipsychotics, as the JRC loves to brag about their ability to take kids and adults off of the meds and then zap their brains out for behaviors as mild as "popping their own pimples," that given the choice, I'd take the medicine, any day, any time, with absolutely no uncertainty.

Speaking from self-evidence, the highest standard for assessing the highly subjective phenomena of pain and discomfort, nobody can possibly be as confident as me about this preference for heavy-duty medication over JRC's latest GED-4 version of their horrifying electroshock device (disturbing link warning).

Unless they've also experienced both, not even a PhD psychologist who is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) can speak with such confidence, despite how authoritative they may sound when they talk about their scientific collection of behavioral data when parents hire them to modify the so-called "problem behaviors" of their disabled children, unless, of course, a BCBA has likewise voluntarily subjected himself to both shocks and psychotropics, which I've never seen anyone state in my countless encounters with them in the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) internet groups.

On the ABA side of the "thread" that fills this blog post, it's interesting to note that doctoral BCBAs, behavioral psychology professors, and influential members of the Ass. for Behavior Analysis International, these behavior control experts whose job is to present and remove rewards and punishers to and from people with less power, especially during intensive interventions to little autistic boys and girls, have been governing the school of shock pain up from a perch at the JRC's Board of Directors.

Furthermore, the Director of Research at the JRC is a doctoral BCBA, Nathan Blenkush. He defended them before an FDA panel whose majority concluded in April, 2014 that Rotenberg's "noxious" stimulators, their GEDs, "presented a substantial and unreasonable risk of illness or injury." The Obama Administration's full FDA has yet to issue its shock device ban decision.

We're back to the shock versus pharmaceutical side effect conversation again. So setting aside the role his assaultive behavior played in her decision, Louisa Goldberg, the mother in the Mother Jones article who sent her son Andrew to the JRC "school of shock" because of too much sleep on account of his meds, made a terrible mistake. I doubt she applied to every institution in the nation and they all turned him down, even though she told journalist Jennifer Gonnerman that "the Rotenberg Center was the only place willing to accept him."

Now I take Geodon because I'm overweight and stocky and it has less of a side effect of weight gain than say Risperdal and especially Zyprexa. What matters is my health with respect to my beefiness and it's good on all accounts. The only problem is my exhaustion, because I can't keep the chubby chasers away with a wooden spoon!

Yes, it makes me sleep a lot, up to sixteen hours a day, sometimes as little as five, usually about twelve. My general body clock waking hour is about 3:00 p.m. Incidentally, I'm proud of the grand, but not superior, ideas that occur as a result of my disorder. My big fat mission to help make the world a less punitive place wouldn't be happening without my mental health challenges, but that's beside the point. I'm not a happy camper, however, when I become pathologically paranoid, so I want and need to take the medicine which does a good job in suppressing it. I'm 55 now. People do go to bed to get their "beauty sleep." Well I've had a hell of a lot of beauty sleep by and by and I like who I see and how I appear when I look inside the mirror, as you can probably tell from this blog post. Not only that, sleeping is blissful! I love to dream! I love falling asleep! As I'm nodding off at night, just before I'm out, as other sleepers have reported, I can laugh out loud to myself while passing over the murky gate between waking and sleeping while dreaming about some kind of nonsense or other, such as wiggly worms inside leaky shoes on a rainy day when the socks are grimy and the feet are clammy.

I used to take Risperdal, for about a decade, which can give a guy gynecomastia, enlarged male breasts. If I do get them, I'll have a good lawsuit against Johnson and Johnson, because "the U.S. Department of Justice said (the corporation) illegally marketed Risperdal and Invega." Besides, there are plenty of transgendered admirers out there. Even though it's not my strong urge to have breasts, I can deal with them if I get them. As an old cub of a guy, I've got that look anyway around my upper torso regions. Once again, the bear trackers have been wearing me down! In a dream world, going through this transition, should one have this wish, should be as simple as taking a pill at bedtime, as opposed to the real-world full medical regimen, the ritual, the ordeal that some biological males undergo to become the actual female person of their fantasies. In reality, however, the effort she performs with the physicians would hopefully render her journey worthwhile, however complex the procedures.

And yes, I could eventually develop tardive dyskinesia after a full half century of treatment, that awfully stigmatizing side effect of the antipsychotics, potentially irreversible body twitching. I will continue taking the meds if and when that happens. I'm a long-term disability peer advocate. I know that if I get the twitches some day and people start talking to me like I'm some kind of a "freak," all I have to do is to come out of the delusional disorder closet and educate them a bit about people like me, which I did for a decade on a disability speakers bureau.

I have seen my friend with vocal and body tics (Tourette Syndrome) function quite well with his friends and employers in this open and honest manner. Stigma dissipates with education of the public. They love to respond with their own mental health stories, even the undiagnosed neurotypicals.

I do worry about diabetes, a highly potential side effect of this medication, but it's never reared its head in the fasting blood sugar tests. The highest reading once was 109. Then it was back to a hundred on the dot. I'll learn to manage it should it ever crop up, as our mother did, but I've got it beat for now. I sold my car to the junk heap, where it belonged, and moved to a studio apartment in a short walk away from the Asbury Park, New Jersey mass transportation hub. I've got to eat. I drop a squat aluminum stool into my blue rectangular push cart to stop a minute and set it on the ground to take a load off my feet as I'm pulling it behind my rear on the way to the markets, continually gaining pedometer tallies of four to fifteen thousand steps just about every day. I follow fairly well the nutritional podcasts of Dr. Ronald Hoffman who is "recognized as one of America’s foremost complementary medicine practitioners."

Therefore, getting back to the shock thread, given a hypothetical choice during some kind of surreal interview with me sitting inside what the Rotenberg Center calls their Mickey Mouse Conference Room, while my wanna-be case manager tries to convince me it's for my own good to sign myself in and let them load my back with a ten-pound pack full of decelerators and strap wires and electrodes all over my arms, legs, and torso, I am positively certain that no matter what kind of behavior I was emitting to get me referred to that place, no matter what kind of harm it was causing me or anybody else, I would take the medicine over shock unequivocally, no matter what kind of pharmaceutical side effect claim she was trying to scare me with, because now I know that when JRC "teachers" trigger them with their remote control buttons, the GEDs can pack "45.5 milliamps of electricity—a shock more than fifteen times as powerful as the stun belts designed to incapacitate violent adult prisoners," said Lydia Brown in the Washington Post in 2014. As soon as I told the case manager, "Take your device and stuff it!" I would fly from that gruesome wolf house as fast as my feet would carry me. (See the ever-so-bizarre JRC fantasyland pictures here.)

I also know now that no matter what kind of problem behavior I might emit, there would always be much better behavioral ways to "treat" me than to torment me with their currents and render me senseless into an electrified zombie, no matter how dangerous my hypothetical behaviors could be, as Gary LaVigna, BCBA, deposed in 2013, under "pains and penalties of perjury," in a court case involving the JRC, and as he said in his landmark 1986 co-authored book, Alternatives to Punishment—Solving Behavior Problems with Non-aversive Strategies.

(I'm not saying that people with my disability are statistically more violent than the general gun-toting populace has already turned out to be. I covered that topic in my 2013 Op-Ed in "Opposing a Mental Health Gun Check Registry.")

So I am not afraid of any medication eventuality. My ultimate goal is to die happy. In this stage of my life, I'm right on target there despite my disorder and despite these magical delusion-to-reality pills that make me sleep too much. The state of my life under Geodon remains awesome, as can be seen in this my own personal brag sheet written in service to the "prisoners," who are not allowed to escape, for Rotenberg takes GED punishment and security measures against what they call "elopement!"

Then after you've contacted them, you can add a blog comment below. You'll feel good about doing something tangible and I'll respond to your comment with gratitude.

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Anna Kosovskaya Escapes the Judge Rotenberg Electroshock Center

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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.