Posted by: myautisticmuslimchild | July 11, 2010

Shock Therapy Used on Children with Autism

Written by Kevin Schneider on 11 July 2010
Photo by Flickr/david shankbone

The Judge Rotenberg Center, located outside of Boston, has been under the media’s fire since their methods of reprehension for students were revealed.  The school uses aversives to correct the behavior of children who are acting out.  What kind of aversives do they use?  Skin shock treatment.

The JRC serves 250 students, from ages 3 to adulthood.  All students suffer from various emotional, psychiatric, and behavioral problemsChildren with autism are part of the group that is serviced at the school.

The school says that skin shock treatments are not administered unless a court and student’s parents have approved.  Although, now, both Mental Disability Rights International and the United Nations have fulminated against the school and their choice of aversives.

Manfred Nowak, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, had this to say: “To be frank, I was shocked when I was reading the report.  What I did, on the 11th of May, was to send an urgent appeal to the U.S. government asking them to investigate.”

The JRC and the doctor who runs this, Matthew Israel, aren’t budging on their position that their aversive therapy is safe and nowhere near torture. Israel said: “The real torture, is what these children are subjected to if they don’t have this program. They’re drugged up to the gills with drugs that cause them to be so sedated that they essentially sleep all day.”

Israel defends that the therapy is used on a case by case basis, and it’s in the best interest of children who are in severe danger to themselves.  The children wear the device in the form of a backpack or fanny pack, and the staff members are able to control when to send a shock to the child.  While Israel says that the treatment does not have side effects and is used to protect the child from being violent towards themselves and others, he does not deny that it causes pain.

To see the original report click here.



  1. Shock Therapy Used on Children with Autism « My Autistic Muslim Child…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  2. Why are people so against skin shock therapy when the therapy is used for severe, intraccable self injury in autistic populations? After all, isn’t the skin shock therapy much like the homeopathic ideology that LIKE cures LIKE, in otherwords, the temporary pain caused by a brief skin shock STOPS the bodily injury pain caused by extreme constant self-injury or self-abuse? Hello!@ Wake up people. If you need to see a good case where skin shock therapy was once used and then discontinued and now led to one of the most brutal and bizzare cases of autism and self injury go to you tube kgaccount and take a good look at reality of dealing with such complex cases. Not saying skin shock is the answere, but it must certainly be considered as a temporary emergency intervention like a de-fibulator shocks the heart attack patient back to life. I mean reallyk take a good look at this case of autism and tell me that this poor boy and his family might not benefit from at least a temporary emergency use of skin shock and if NOT then where is the staffing support they need? That is what is so pathetic here…all these people against skin shock but they don’t have alternatives to skin shock or they don’t fight for families to have the right supports that lead families to request skin shock. Nobody wants to use the dreadful skin shock!!! It’s a horrible thing to consider but for God’s sakes if your child can’t stop smashing their heads into walls or punching themselves despite everything possible, including emergency medications and therapies and interventions then what then? WHAT the hell then if NOTHING else can protect them? Do U not understand that there are cases that require at least some temporary use of this device? No, it’s NOT ideal, nor should it be something used all the time but damn it, I”ve seen this case and it’s disturbing. The case on you tube is one of the most disturbing cases of autism and self injury ever portrayed and yet nobody has the answer? What the hey? Can’t we do better as a society? What is the point of all these autism groups if they can’t even handle cases like this that have been shown in media for years? This family has gone through HELL and back to advocate for their son without skin shock and it seems like they are pushed in that direction because, like other families in similiar situations, they aren’t given the proper support to keep their child safe. So, ask yourselves…what can we do to PREVENT the use of skin shock instead of attacking shock therapy!

    • Thank you for your comment. It is always advisable to see the other side of the story.

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