Thursday, May 5, 2016

Massachusetts charges Eagleton School staff, which uses Applied Behavior Analysis, with abuse and revokes its license.

Journalist Lukas Ropek (May 4, 2016) of reported that Massachusetts' Department of Early Education and Care revoked the license of the Eagleton School in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Berkshire County. So far, the Berkshire District Attorney has charged sixteen of its employees with abusing their students. The investigation is still ongoing.

This private school is known to have used Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA practitioners attempt to control children and adults, often autistic, by reinforcing and punishing behaviors when they add and remove rewarding and punishing consequences soon after their "clients" "emit" what they consider to be either desirable or undesirable behaviors.

Derek Gentile (May 3, 2016), of the Berkshire Eagle reported, "A police raid on Jan. 30 triggered the investigation, which, according to state officials, revealed a school-wide pattern of abuse, reportedly over the course of several years." Charges include "assault and battery on a disabled person..., assault and battery with intent to inflict injury..., (and) assault and battery with a dangerous weapon."

So when will the authorities revoke the license of the Canton, Massachusetts Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) of extremely painful electric ABA skin shock now that freelance journalist Evan Anderson, (May 4, 2016) has just exposed 410 severe abuse charges as reported by actual JRC victims in a recent ten year period?


Related articles

Berkshire Eagle staff (January 1, 2016): "Berkshire DA: 50 investigators descend on Eagleton School in student abuse investigation."

Phil Demers (January 31, 2016), Berkshire Eagle: "Eagleton School parents tell children's stories of alleged abuse."

Anthony Fay (April 8, 2016), 22News, "Eagleton school shutting down after losing license."


Related posts

Altieri (May 4, 2016). The Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) sends ABA Leaks a database of 410 severe abuse allegations at Rotenberg in a recent ten-year time span, averaging one charge per every ten days.

Altieri (April 13, 2016). The Ass. for Behavioral Analysis International (ABAI) officially "approved" extremely painful Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) electric skin shock "torture" once again, after autistic advocates demanded they stop approving it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) sends ABA Leaks a database of 410 severe abuse allegations at Rotenberg in a recent ten-year time span, averaging one charge per ten days.

In Spring 2016 independent journalist Evan Anderson found the Twitter profile of this Reward and Consent blogger, David Altieri, who's been blogging since 2007 about his inquiry into the thorough ties between Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) of extremely painful electric skin shock. JRC is a residential "school" located in Canton, Massachusetts, not far from Salem. It houses its "students" in towns that surround Canton.

Anderson is an investigative journalist who specializes in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests of US governmental entities. He asked Altieri how he could help the advocates close the Judge Rotenberg Center (#CloseTheJRC).

Altieri notified Anderson of the violation and warning letters that the USA Food and Drug Administration New England District Director Shamsi sent to Dr. Israel (May 23, 2011), JRC's founder and first director, and to Mrs. Crookes (June 29, 2012December 6, 2012), who is JRC's second and current director, as of the date of this post, May 4, 2016. See also Donnelly (December 12, 2012), Boston Business Journal: "FDA warns Judge Rotenberg Center over shock devices."

JRC uses skin shock devices that have never been approved by the FDA which regulates what it calls these "Electrical Stimulation Devices" as "neurological medical devices." FDA New England had inspected JRC property and found they were using unapproved, adulterated GED-3A and the GED-4 ABA skin shock devices while the FDA had only previously allowed them to use the less-extremely-intense GED-1s.

So Anderson did a FOIA request to the FDA and retrieved Crookes' (December 21, 2012) response to Shamsi, which she addressed to Karen Archdeacon, FDA New England Compliance Officer. In this letter she admitted that her people hooked up her electrodes to the "upper/outer quadrant" of their victims' "buttocks" (p. 2, par. 3), as ABA Leaks' additional FOIA investigator, retired Special Education teacher Pam Zich discovered, see below.

Altieri also put Anderson in touch with a source in the Massachusetts state government. Then Anderson requested JRC information from the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC).

Massachusetts DPPC sent ABA Leaks their case intake spreadsheet of 410 severe ABA/JRC abuse allegations covering a ten year time span. 

DPPC returned this spreadsheet of 410 complaints by JRC victims and survivors covering a ten year period, averaging one severe abuse or neglect report per ten days. There are sexual abuse allegations and reports of burns from JRC's skin shock devices and many other severe cases emanating from this institution.

He asked Altier(i) which of those spreadsheet items he should pursue with further requests for more thorough information. At this point Altieri founded ABA Leaks to seek assistance from a small team of #CloseTheJRC advocates regarding how to direct Anderson over his request for guidance.

As a result DPPC sent him these redacted (names removed) intake forms which contain more details than the spreadsheet columns expose regarding specific JRC/ABA abuse allegations.

So Anderson (2012), who remains independent, reported the joint findings and analyzed the information in his article.

Pam Zich, of ABA Leaks, also sent the FDA a FOIA request for Crookes' (December 21, 2012) reply to Shamsi (June 29, 2012). Zich's (May 5, 2016) analysis of Crookes' letter (p. 2, par. 3) exposed for the first time on the internet the fact that Crookes admitted to shocking the upper/outer portion of JRC victims' buttocks. Zich said, "Administrators at the JRC consider it more humane to attach a shock device to someone's forearm, upper arm, upper thigh, calf, torso/stomach, palms of hands, soles of feet, and buttocks than to administer medication that might alleviate the drive to harm oneself."

In the FDA Neurological Devices Panel meeting of April 24, 2016 (Transcript, pp. 144-45) JRC spokesman Blenkush admitted that ABA skin shocks out-of-seat behavior at JRC.. New England's FDA leader Shamshi (May 23, 2011) had also cited Rotenberg's first director Dr. Israel with violations, among other reasons, because JRC's "Safety Assessment of the GED Device" indicated that JRC "introduced two automated features to the GED-3A and GED-4 that were not part of the cleared (GED-1) device: (a) an automated stimulus when the patient removes either hand from their hip-holsters, and (b) a seat board that initiates a stimulus if the patient stands from their chair [italics added]. So it seems that the Rotenberg Center—with an automated seat board, with no "teacher" pressing any GED remote control shock activation button—shocked some of their "students" for standing up out of their chairs without "teacher" permission. So then, in case of a potential emergency, such as a fire in the room or a shooting spree in their Canton, Massachusetts facility, what are Rotenberg's victims supposed to do? Does JRC expect these autistic and disabled people to sit in their seats during a severe emergency such as a real fire and then in order to stand up and get away, to take a GED-4 skin shock with 45.5 milliamperes, which is more than fifteen times as powerful as the Stun Tech, "the most common stun belt used for prisoner restraint"?

The Transcript (2016, p. 2) listed Nathan Blenkush as a BCBA-D and a Ph.D., Director of Research at the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, Inc. Rotenberg is clearly an ABA institution that is fully endorsed and supported en masse by the entire cruel and unusually coercive behavior control industry. (For complete documentary supportive evidence of this assertion see Altier(i) (April 13, 2016) and see all of (June 28, 2016). Please note the first subtitle: "Prerequisite argument: ABA is NOT Positive Behavior Support (PBS). The Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) has a "Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts" that allows all this "torture" to take place unimpeded by BACB, because Blenkush possesses the highest rated of all BACB credentials, the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with the Ph.D. Doctorate degree. They do not revoke his papers. Under the leadership of Mrs. Glenda Crookes, second JRC Director, Blenkush specifically stated to the FDA panel that "The GED (skin shock) device does not cause burns." Elsewhere the transcript cites reports of Rotenberg's skin shock burns. The Massachusetts (DPPC, 2015) intake spreadsheet contains 15 allegations of burns from Crookes' and Company's ABA skin shock inventions*.

ABA is not much more than training for submission. It does what it calls "obedience" training upon innocent people whose behaviors it typically misjudges with its usual popular-norm-of-the-day highly unethical standard, as it deems itself to be prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner of the "challenging behaviors" of human beings it labels "deviants" in need of fixing with its so-called "effective" behavior controls. That's what ABA is: training for submission. Period. No ifs, ands, or butts.

The Judge Rotenberg Center has its own patents and B. F. Skinner called its founder a brave man, though he only judged his work by his typical before and after shock torture videos. Only rarely do we get to see real shock in action. See Deitz (October 17, 1985).

Apparatus for administering electrical aversive stimulus and associated method.... It is well known to use aversive stimulus, such as the application of an electric shock, to deter certain types of undesirable behavior. For example, therapists have used electrical aversive stimulus to deter or decelerate self-injurious behavior in individuals. Electrical aversive stimulation has also been used to educate or train individuals. For example, aversive stimulus has been used to educate or train individual using a method known as "behavior rehearsal. Behavior rehearsal is typically used on individual who have exhibited undesired behavior in the past. Often, the undesired behavior that the individuals exhibited in the past was extreme, such as exhibiting violence against others. With behavior rehearsal, the individual is prompted to engage in a form of the undesired behavior or is vividly reminded of the past undesired behavior. When the individual engages in the behavior or when it is clear that the individual recalls the behavior, aversive stimulus is administered to the individual in order to remind him or her of what will occur if he or she engaged in that type of behavior in the future.
And how did ABA's infamous Dr. Matthew Israel, B. F. Skinner's pupil, prompt these so-called "undesired behaviors" to emerge? Lydia Brown (2014) reported: 

Another former resident, Ian Cook, testified ... that he was forced to undergo a procedure that the center calls 'behavioral rehearsal lessons,' in which staff members pressure a resident to perform a behavior targeted for elimination. If the resident refuses to comply — to act in a way that gets him shocked — he will be shocked. Ian described this frightening experience like this: "While I was sitting in a restraint chair, a staff [member] would burst into my conference room — I was one-on-one alone with staff — and screamed at me to hurt him, holding a knife. Even though I did absolutely nothing and sat there in shock, not having any idea what was going on, I would receive a shock from the GED device. This happened a couple of times a week, at first, and left me in a constant state of fear, never knowing when I’d be hurt for no reason." 
And how did the grandfather of all ABA describe Dr. Israel in Deitz? He said,

There are people who are out of reach of positive reinforcement. Whether or not they ever become normal is another issue.... (Israel) is a very humane man much concerned about injustice. It takes a brave man to take these cases on. Most people run away as far away as possible... Israel's methods are not comparable to torture. Whether he needs so many aversives I'm not prepared to say. It's a question of intent. I have talked with some who claim that person to person contact can bring out autistic people. I have not seen this. The alternatives in our times are heavy drugs and straitjackets.... Learning through punishment has been recognized for centuries by governments and by religions which threaten hell fire. All use punishment to teach control. Schools punish students every day by ignoring students and leaving them to lead wasted lives.

Deitz (1985) also reported that Skinner neither witnessed Israel's aversives in person nor in video recordings, in which Israel only promoted his "treatments" by showing before and after clips. As far as ABA Leaks knows, Israel and company never voluntarily released footage of actual "tortures" while they took place, except for just one exception, when a judge allowed Israel's shock in action video to go viral, after Skinner was dead, as seen on top of this blog investigation.

Gonnerman (2007) reported that "In 1971, (Israel) founded the Behavior Research Institute in Rhode Island, a facility that would later move to Massachusetts and become known as the Judge Rotenberg Center. Israel took in children nobody else wanted—severely autistic and mentally retarded kids who did dangerous things to themselves and others. To change their behavior, he developed a large repertoire of punishments: spraying kids in the face with water, shoving ammonia under their noses, pinching the soles of their feet, smacking them with a spatula, forcing them to wear a "white-noise helmet" that assaulted them with static." This is what Skinner praised.

While he called him a man of courage, Skinner neglected to indicate that JRC, under Director Crookes, who would earn $370,000 in annual JRC total compensation, that Israel's non-profit would eventually report JRC (IRS, 990, 2014) total revenue $64,493,189 and total assets $34,596,190. Perhaps now, since he's supposed to be so brave, Israel will voluntarily subject himself to a few months worth of BRL's while taught in a school that "treats for elopement," also known as escape from confined torture.

Furthermore, Vogell and Waldman (2014) said New York City sent $30 million a year to JRC. NYC is JRC's biggest sending district. Altieri of ABA Leaks has learned from his friends in Asbury Park, New Jersey that JRC advertises itself to parents on the New York City radio airwaves with its typical promise it can take their troubled kids off medication and they'll never need to worry about them any more getting expelled from any more programs. JRC can handle them, so they promise in their "Near Zero Rejection Policy."

Foster (2002) described how JRC admitted that "elopements" do occur there, JRC has an elaborate video monitoring system, where JRC escaper Anna Kosovskaya recalled in her exclusive interview with ABA Leaks that they even installed cameras in the bathrooms, to prevent escape, and to monitor and control their every move. Anna was not even allowed to talk to her friends and fellow inmates about the screams they all heard from the shocks. Furthermore, ABA Leaks has an anonymous source who stayed at his relative's home right next to a JRC group home. He has an ear-witness account of actual screams that JRC's immediate residential neighbors are forced to endure.

Foster (2002), however needs a major correction. He was wrong to believe, in all likelihood, what  JRC told him, that their skin shock is only "mild." Lydia Brown (2014) calculated exactly how many amps surge though JRC's electrodes and into their ABA victims nerves:
In February 2000, Cheryl McCollins sent her son Andre, an 18-year-old autistic student, to the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center for help with his behavioral and developmental difficulties. Andre had already tried  two other residential schools, including one where another student sexually assaulted him, to overcome his tendency to break things or hit people in rage attacks. Twenty months later, in October 2002, Cheryl received a terrifying call from a center employee, who told her, “Andre had a bad day.” Earlier in the day, a staffer told Andre to take off his jacket. When he said no, another staff member pressed a button to activate the electric-shock machine attached to Andre’s body with taped electrodes. Andre screamed and threw himself under a table. Four adults dragged him out, and strapped him, face down, into four-point restraints. Over the next seven hours, Andre was shocked 31 times with a device that emits 45.5 milliamps of electricity — a shock more than 15 times as powerful as the stun belts designed to incapacitate violent adult prisoners. Staff members recorded the reason for each shock — all but two entries on his recording sheet list tensing up or screaming. In the surveillance video, Andre can be heard pleading for staff members to stop. At the Rotenberg center, in Canton, Mass., this is called treatment.
According to Israel, von Heyn, and Connolly (ca. 1992), JRC didn't decide to buy his first skin shock device from the Brian Iwata team's manufacturer until 1988. They said:

In 1988, we decided to employ electric shock as part of a court-authorized treatment program for several students for whom nonaversive programming, psychotropic medication, and several aversive procedures had previously failed. At that time there were only two commercially-available shock devices designed for use with humans, WhistleStop (Farrall Instruments, Inc., P.O. Box 1037, Grand Island, Nebraska, 68802) and the Self-Injurious Behavior Inhibiting System (SIBIS) (Human Technologies, Inc., 300 3rd Avenue North, St. Petersburg, Florida, 33701). Features of SIBIS discussed in this article are those of units manufactured during 1988-90. Other electric shock devices reported in the literature were either lab-built or designed for animals.... Linscheid et al. (1990) (with Iwata as co-author) reported the SIBIS’s current to be 3.5 mA, when applied to a 24 kΩ resistor. They did not specify whether this was the peak current or average current, as would be specified by the root mean square (rms) method. We tested a SIBIS unit purchased in September, 1989. When set at its maximum intensity level, and applied to a 24 kΩ resistor with a fully charged battery, it produced an average voltage of 48.6 volts (rms). Voltages were measured with an oscilloscope (Hitachi, Model VC-6045) and true rms voltmeter (Fluke Scopemeter, Model 97). Current calculated from these values was 2.025 mA (rms).

Iwata can boast he's ABA's most prolific author (Shabani et al., 2004, p. 237), Dr. Brian Iwata, professor at the University of Florida. Altier(i) (June 11, 2015) dedicated a section to Brian's role his skin shock business in Anna Kosovkaya's heroic self-report of her escape from JRC with a happy ending. Iwata did not return Altier(i)'s tough-guy, advocacy-style incoming phone call message to him about this.

Gonnerman (2007) lets Iwata paint a rosy picture of himself, which ABA always does, as he lambasts JRC, in words, as he tells her how Skinner's pupil Dr. Israel will shock any behavior he can sink his teeth into. But actions speak louder than words. He publishes no condemnation of the fact that the CEO Maria Malott's mammoth Ass. for Behavioural Analysis International (ABAI) has, for at least each of the past five years, in her own words, officially "approved" JRC as being "aligned" with her network's "mission."

She did this after the United Nations called JRC a place of "torture," and even after the autistic community demanded that she stop doing this (Altier(i), April 13, 2016) while her ex-husband, popular ABA textbook author and staunch "aversive therapy" proponent, Dick Malott, sat as a member of the Judge Rotenberg Center Board of Directors.

As unbelievable as it sounds, Malott told Altieri on the phone Christmas Eve that he is in favor of skin shocking autistic body rocking, as he said, to help them function in society. He had no reply when Altier(i) lost his temper as he asked Malott if he ever thought of teaching autistic age peers to accept their differences and he had no reply when Altier(i) said, "Did you ever think of asking them if they want you to shock them?" He had no chance to reply to that.

Altier(i) then abruptly hung up on him. Malott, however, is the only behavior analyst today who is willing to communicate with Altier(i) while he "rants," despite his  attempts to call several of them on the phone, unanswered. Glenda Crookes, JRC's second director, used to speak with Altier(i) on the phone and in email, but she refuses any more.

So anyhow, to conclude this portion about how the actions of Iwata, instead of his words, demonstrates that he, too, is a cruel, cruel behaviorist, but a slick one. If JRC was so bad, as he told Gonnerman (2009), then why didn't he recuse himself from the FDA's Neurological Devices panel as they deliberated on what FDA calls ABA's Electrical Stimulation Devices (ESD's). He was highly influential in the invention and the methodology behind the SIBIS ESD.

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 was a non-voting panel member but his alleged authority holds much potential power.
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). Furthermore, (Dixon et al, 2015, table 4) showed how Brian Iwata is Applied Behavior Analysis' (ABA's) most-prolifically-published graduate school author (in Altier(i) (June 11, 2015)).

Related links

Davies (August 9, 2014). “Prisoners of the Apparatus”: The Judge Rotenberg Center.

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: "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."

Altier(i) (May 1, 2015). My one day of electric shock was worse than 36 years of antipsychotics, which I happen to enjoy very much, just as many others like me also appreciate, according to my psychiatrists, while Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) claims it's coercive methods are so much better than medicine, which they ain't, not by a long-shot, if you only listen to all their victims.

Copyright and disclaimers

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.

Reward and Con
sent is not responsible for links on the site. For example, I use keywords "Operant Conditioning" in the YouTube search field for the videos displayed below the archives on the left. Google selects the videos and the results change from time to time. Please email me if anything is not educational and germane to the subject and I will reevaluate the search.

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.