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."