In The Politics of Autism, I write:
For those who remain at larger residential institutions, the horrors of yesteryear have generally ended. In 2012, however, a ten-year-old video surfaced, showing disturbing image of an electric shock device at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton Massachusetts. Staffers tied one student to a restraint board and shocked him 31 times over seven hours, ignoring his screamed pleas to stop. The Rotenberg Center is the only one in the nation that admits to using electric shocks on people with developmental disabilities, including autism. Center officials said that they had stopped using restraint boards but insisted that shocks were necessary in extreme cases to prevent officials insist the shock program is a last resort that prevents people with severe disorders from hurting themselves or others. Though a majority of the FDA’s Neurological Devices Panel said that such devises pose “an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury,” the agency had not banned them as of 2014.
From the Autism Society:
On June 27, a Bristol County judge sided with the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) located in Canton Massachusetts, allowing JRC to continue using electric shock on over 60 students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD). The judge sided with the school stating that the State “failed to demonstrate that there is no professional consensus that the Level III aversive treatment does not conform to the accepted standard of care for treating individuals with I/DD”. Health and Human Services Secretary, Marylou Sudders, says the State must now decide within the next 20 days to file an appeal. Advocates continue to call on the Food and Drug Administration to act on its 2016 proposal to ban the use of electrical shock devices.
Emily Shugerman at The Independent:
Backlash against the treatment began in 2012, when video surfaced of 18-year-old Andre McCollins receiving more than two dozen electrical shocks while tied to a bed at the centre in 2002.
Mr McCollins mother, Cheryl McCollins, settled a lawsuit against the school for an undisclosed amount in 2012. JRC claims it has significantly changed its procedures since then.
But the treatment was met with protests from disability rights group ADAPT as recently as this month, when advocates picketed outside the home of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
The protesters wanted the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to push forward A proposed regulation banning the practice, which the agency said in 2016 posed an “unreasonable and substantial risk” to public health.
“They have been sitting on these regulations for more than two years,” said Philadelphia ADAPT organiser German Parodi in a press release, “and they can stop this atrocity now with the stroke of a pen.”