Response from Marie Washington, President of the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center Parents Association (Marie's son is a student at JRC):
"We, as parents of the children and adults at the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, support the modification of language in the proposed federal legislation to allow for aversive behavior interventions, including restraint, for students with diagnosed severe behavior disorders, to protect our children's right to a free and appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The interventions are only used after all other treatments and less restrictive alternatives have been tried and failed. Our children have endured lives where they are either a danger to themselves, family members, staff or fellow students, or even to passersby. The solutions our children have been offered, other than at JRC, are full time physical or chemical restraint, so we are very well aware of the important nuances of what we are asking for in the language of this legislation. The right to choose the appropriate and safe treatment for our children, when nothing else has worked, must remain an option for the small percentage of children for whom this is a matter of life or death. Our children exhibit severe behavioral disorders and have done unimaginable things to themselves and others, but we made the decision not to give up on them when the doctors told us nothing else could be done other than sedation and a life in a psychiatric hospital. Would you want a bureaucrat in Washington deciding what health care treatment you or your family members receive?
We understand the video ABC is airing of a student from 2002 is difficult to watch, but it is in no way an example of the highly successful education and treatment that occurs every day at JRC. The student in the video went home for a visit and was taken off the court approved skin shock treatment (GED) by his mother, which caused him to severely regress. For seven-months he made unprecedented progress at JRC where his aggressive and self injurious behaviors were brought to zero or near zero levels. He averaged one 2-second skin shock treatment a week, as opposed to being on massive doses of drugs or physically restrained, which had been his life before his mother sought a place for him and aversive treatment at JRC. The incident on tape was ten years ago; treatment is done differently today. The treatment would have been suspended much sooner than it was, and the student would not have been on a four point restraint board receiving skin shock. It is important to note that the sole reason the recording exists is because JRC maintains cameras in every room where a student may receive treatment and is the only such facility to do so. This was instituted by JRC over 20 years ago, of their own accord, for the protection of the students in their care and to enable staff, and parents if they chose, to review applications of the GED, and to learn from them. We love our children and support the committed staff at JRC that work to find the best ways to serve our children and to manage their behaviors to a level where they are no longer causing severe injury and pain to themselves; our children are learning, they spend time with family and friends. They are happy and safe and as parents that is all we could hope for, and JRC provides us with it."
-------- Below are comments from 2 student's parents about their experience at JRC. Due to the issues we discussed, they did not want their names used but wanted you to read what they had to say. ----------- "For politicians and the other bureaucrats to assume that they understand my life or that of my child is not only presumptuous but it is cruel and torturous. To those who routinely uses false and inflammatory words to describe the only therapy that helped my son and has given him a life – shame on you. My son has spent 18 years severely injuring himself and others, sending over 40 people to the hospital with severe human bites and concussions. He was expelled from his other programs and spent over 6 years at JRC on a strictly positive program. 9 months ago we made the very difficult decision to petition the court to try the GED (skin shock treatments). It has been a miracle. We are able to take him home, out to restaurants; anywhere he wants to go! There is no torture here. The torture for us is to listen to people like Senator Joyce have the gall to tell us that we should try to pay more attention to our child or love him more. We have nothing but love for our children and we have tried every other therapy and treatment before the GED. He has never been able to enjoy his life the way he has in the past 9 months. How would those who know nothing about living in this situation and watching your child harm himself and other like to watch his child suffer for so many years and then have strangers tell him the one treatment that is working isn't good because they know better?"
"If you met my daughter today, she is a sweet, talkative young woman. If you met her 3 years ago, before the GED, you would have been very afraid, and rightly so. She attacked anyone who came near her, including infants or toddlers. If she could get hold of you she would pull the hair right out of your head in clumps or head butt you; she left several with concussions. My daughter was expelled from almost every other program she was in and rejected from many others. She was unable to have a roommate or to be in a classroom; she was spontaneously aggressive and sent countless people to the hospital. We spent 17 years trying every available therapy, including physical and chemical restraint. Nearly 4 years ago when we brought her to JRC, she spent about 10 months on a positive only program. We petitioned the court to have her treated with the GED; the impact was almost immediate. She comes home for visits, has a roommate at school, goes out to dinner with staff and friends; she attends classes and enjoys learning and working in the dining hall. It is 3 years later and she has not had one application of the GED in 18 months. Those who suggest that treatment for issue they know nothing about should more carefully look at the people's lives they seem so cavalier about throwing away. They have no solutions to offer, but think they know better. "
Parents trust JRC
Parents trust JRC because it has a proven track record of successfully educating and treating the most difficult behaviorally involved students in the nation. Aversive therapy, which includes skin shock treatment known as the GED (graduated electronic decelerator), are incorporated into treatment plans for students who struggle with violent, abusive or mutilating behaviors toward themselves or others, only after their families have exhausted other therapies, residential programs and psychiatric facilities. In many cases the students' parents have removed them from previous placements because they spent much of their time physically and mechanically restrained or chemically sedated; in other cases the students are asked to leave because these other facilities are unable to handle the students' behaviors.
Most students at JRC do not received aversive therapy. It is only administered when parents and doctors petition the court; each case is reviewed by a Human Rights Committee, a Peer Review Committee and a physician. There are hundreds of peer reviewed articles on the safe and effective use of contingent skin shock, several of which are specific to the treatment success at JRC.