Shock in a Backpack

The Graduated Electronic Decelerator is the name of the FDA-approved aversion therapy device used to administer electric shocks to discipline students at the Judge Rotenburg Center. The electric shock transmitted is said to be low-wattage and no more than a “skin-sting.” The Center’s founder and director, Matthew Israel, a Harvard-educated psychologist, refined and patented the Graduated Electronic Decelerator.

A Long Island parent, Evelyn Nicholson, has filed a lawsuit against the Rotenburg Center on behalf of her son whose “aversion therapy program” included use of the Graduated Electronic Decelerator. The Westside Gazette report K. Chandler wrote in Lawsuit claims school is using painful shock therapy to correct children with behavioral problems on April 20:

Derisively described by some critics as primitive and barbaric, this aversion therapy technique is carried out through the use of a backpack that students are made to wear with electrodes attached to their arms, legs and torso. The pain, which results when the transmitter is deployed, has been compared to the pain from a bee sting.

According to Rotenberg administrators, the electric shock lasts for a period of two seconds although it is not at all clear whether the individual deploying the transmitter is restricted to shocking the student just once or is allowed to repeat the procedure (if they fail to obtain compliance), with successive bursts of electrical shocks — not unlike Taser usage – which would no doubt exacerbate the effect of the so-called “bee sting” exponentially.

No doubt.

No comment.

Read Autism Vox on Too close to shock.

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    • Carlos

      if this lady had problems with this type of treatment, she should not have enrolled him in it. if this child could not listen to the people maybe he needs a different type of therapy. why did it took so long to do something about it, 18 months thats 15 months too long if you ask me.

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      Some parents have claimed that they had “no other option” and that the treatment was a “last resort”; I don’t know the particulars of the circumstances for these families, but this particular treatment seems more than questionable.

    • Mark

      These places are nothing short of a Guantanamo Bay for children! What sort of insanity is this? This is the 21st century. What happend to science, care and research. The slightly annoying things in every day life that do not realy bother the rest of us, are magnified many times over for autistic child. Autistic children/adults have shown in research and under observation (proper research) that the ability to operate in every day society is perfectly achievable.
      I work with autistic adults and my sons attend a mainstream school that has autistic children in class with every other child, and they are NOT dissruptive and badly behaved because the teachers have an understanding of what they are about. Sometimes it’s about playing to there strengths. Most Autistic children/adults operate on a much higher level than the rest of us.
      Electric shocks for haveing autism is nothing short of child abuse and must be stopped. We have the capacity/knowledge to research, help and care for these children in a proper manner in a modern 21st century country-so why is this pathetic backwards abuse going on?

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