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School Uses Shock Therapy on Autistic Students: Constructive or Cruel?

News 2012/05/23 13:00:00
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The Judge Rotenberg Center, a special needs school in Massachusetts, is facing major controversy this week as information about the school's shock therapy program come to light. According to CNN, a student was treated for post traumatic stress disorder after receiving 31 electric shocks in a seven hour period. Officials were apparently trying to hide video footage of the shocking treatment, but was recently required to reveal it.

Other parents say the school is saving lives. One mother claims the shock treatment helped her son immensely, and calls the school a "godsend." Critics aren't so sure. Some call it torture. A group of opponents are even organizing a protest called Occupy JRC, to be held on June 2. It will include a wide range of speakers, from parents to disability advocates. But do you think shock therapy could be constructive?


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  • Rave 2012/05/23 14:05:40
    Cruel
    Rave
    +11
    Shock therapy has been known to CAUSE post-traumatic stress disorder in some patients. I feel it is outdated and we have better treatments available these days.

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  • Alexander T Steward 2012/09/02 17:25:30
  • Chad 2012/08/20 01:34:16
    Cruel
    Chad
    Acts of cruelty can often be easily determined following a very simple question: Would I want this done to myself if I was in the other person's shoes? For me to answer this question, the answer is simple, especially since I now have the knowledge that God cares for and loves all people of the world. Jesus stated that the two greatest commands were to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, and all thy soul" and to "love thy neighbor as thyself." Even if we were to exclude the first command for any excuse, and solely look at the second, I cannot see how inducing shock therapy is a loving act. On a side note: It is amazing to me how God often reveals His truth to me in profound ways: the majority of the votes state that this is a cruel behavior. I assume a low percentage of that number to be of the Christian religion. God's law is truly written on our hearts. For those (so far as I have written this) 56 votes for constructive, these are people who do not understand in their hearts that they ought to treat other as they would want themselves to be treated.
  • Chris Tate 2012/06/05 17:57:30
    Cruel
    Chris Tate
    they still don't know exactly how the brain works or what they are doing when they run electricity through it
  • Raymond Hickman 2012/06/01 09:33:46 (edited)
    Cruel
    Raymond Hickman
    +1
    There seems to be some confusion in the comments I have read; a confusion between Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) the use of which is widespread but controversial (mainly in the treatment of severe/intractable depression), and the Rotenberg Centre's use of electric shocks.

    Modified ECT (applied under anaesthetic in a clinically controlled environment) is controversial enough; there being no accepted scientific explanation as to how it produces the beneficial effects that some people report.

    However, the Rotenberg Centre is not using modified ECT or anything like it. It is using the pain and fear inflicted by applying electric shocks to the skin in order to cow troubled young people into submitting to the school's authority. It is not a constructive therapeutic environment which ties a child to a board and shocks them over thirty times. It is a cruel and abusive regime which has placed its own needs above those of the people it is meant to serve.

    Dr R. Hickman (Lecturer Mental Health Nursing)
  • Raithere 2012/05/31 17:08:04
    Constructive
    Raithere
    +2
    ECT has changed since the 1950's but apparently not in this place. Performed under sedation, in proper manner (not screaming and awake for 7 hours), under a doctors supervision it can work wonders. From the look and sound of it however, this place operates like it's 1962.
  • Chad Raithere 2012/08/20 01:21:15
    Chad
    +3
    It doesn't matter to me about so called modern advancements in how something is done more "humanely." From a biblical standpoint anything that is not act of love toward another person is immoral: "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you" Matthew 7;12 isn't merely a guideline, its a direct command from the Lord, the one true God, to all of humankind. The formula is simple: Would I liked to be forced to recieve shock therapy if I myself had a mental disorder? My answer for my own self is simple: I would not.
  • Raithere Chad 2012/08/20 04:23:36
    Raithere
    "My answer for my own self is simple: I would not."

    So you'd rather remain ill? I personally, would prefer to be made well.
  • Chad Raithere 2012/09/01 02:24:58
    Chad
    Thank you for simplifying my response, but this is the true question: who is really ill here? The patient or the so-called "care-giver"? To take an act that induces pain, often on a unwitting patient (it happens, I know, I've seen it) and call it "therapy" irritates me greatly. Why? Because I understand empathy. I have worked with autistic people in the past, both children and adults. Many of them made enormous progress through loving, patient and kind acts in a matter of two to three years. Sometimes less than that. Many who would not have spoken throughout their entire lifetime came to speak or to write with only the effort of a caring mentor. No shock therapy was needed, but patience, endurance, and most importantly genuine love. Scripture tells us that we are to love all people as they are, because they are God's children. God does not promise that all people who have mental disorders will be healed, but he does instruct us to love all people (and that includes those with mental disorders). Romans 13:8&10 states "You should owe nothing to anyone, except that you will always owe love to each other. The person who loves others has done all that the Law commands... Love doesn't hurt others. So loving is the same as obeying all the Law."

    Genuine "good" acts cannot c...&
    Thank you for simplifying my response, but this is the true question: who is really ill here? The patient or the so-called "care-giver"? To take an act that induces pain, often on a unwitting patient (it happens, I know, I've seen it) and call it "therapy" irritates me greatly. Why? Because I understand empathy. I have worked with autistic people in the past, both children and adults. Many of them made enormous progress through loving, patient and kind acts in a matter of two to three years. Sometimes less than that. Many who would not have spoken throughout their entire lifetime came to speak or to write with only the effort of a caring mentor. No shock therapy was needed, but patience, endurance, and most importantly genuine love. Scripture tells us that we are to love all people as they are, because they are God's children. God does not promise that all people who have mental disorders will be healed, but he does instruct us to love all people (and that includes those with mental disorders). Romans 13:8&10 states "You should owe nothing to anyone, except that you will always owe love to each other. The person who loves others has done all that the Law commands... Love doesn't hurt others. So loving is the same as obeying all the Law."

    Genuine "good" acts cannot come from acts of evil, even if the outward intent appears as good, because "a good tree does not produce bad fruit. And a bad tree does not produce good fruit... What people say with their mouths comes from what is in their hearts." Luke 7:43&45b. Those aren't my words, but I have learned the truth of it: God wants everyone to be saved, and he wants us to be rich in the fullness of His love.
    (more)
  • Raithere Chad 2012/09/01 04:19:47
    Raithere
    I don't need a sermon, thank you. As to your points:

    "who is really ill here? The patient or the so-called "care-giver"?"

    In this case, it appears that the "care givers" have the greater problem. I noticed watching the video again is that the lawers for the clinicians are calling it aversive therapy. Which would mean they are not using ECT for the theraputic effects but as conditioning. Which I do completely disagree with unless the patient is willing.

    "I have worked with autistic people in the past"

    I don't believe ECT is recommended as a therapy for autism. Though it can be very helpful for things like depression and schizophrenia. However, I don't think it should be given to anyone against their will and only in very severe cases without their specific permission.

    "a good tree does not produce bad fruit. And a bad tree does not produce good fruit."

    I find this overly simplistic. ECC can seem quite harsh and certainly it was (and in this case continues to be) misused. However, if one is suffering shouldn't the option be available to them?

    This man tells the story of how ECT saved his life:

  • Chad Raithere 2012/09/01 20:02:32 (edited)
    Chad
    Those words weren't mine, btw. Maybe you meant my usage, I'm not sure, but since you say you don't need a sermon, then I suppose there is no need for me to explain the greater message that those words really convey, so my simplistic usage should have sufficed. But as to your explanation, would you say that it is better to teach a child verbally that his hand can be burned on a burner on a stove, or to place his hand on a stove and say "see the burner burns" or to give the child room to place his own hand on a burner and be burnt through his own experience? All three would be effective methods to teach the same thing, but which one is most appropiate? I do not believe that shock therapy is one of the best methods to deal with any issue, including depression. As I stated before, one of its major side effects is "memory loss!" Other side effects include hallucinations and inability to engage in activities once enjoyed. Whether temporary or not, that is akin to torture in my opinion. Antidepressants if used properly (along with therapy) are often quite effective, if you have a therapist who is in the long run committed to your well-being. In fact, I am quite certain that aside from the Lord, CBT was most effective in my learning to live with what was previously dignosed as...

    Those words weren't mine, btw. Maybe you meant my usage, I'm not sure, but since you say you don't need a sermon, then I suppose there is no need for me to explain the greater message that those words really convey, so my simplistic usage should have sufficed. But as to your explanation, would you say that it is better to teach a child verbally that his hand can be burned on a burner on a stove, or to place his hand on a stove and say "see the burner burns" or to give the child room to place his own hand on a burner and be burnt through his own experience? All three would be effective methods to teach the same thing, but which one is most appropiate? I do not believe that shock therapy is one of the best methods to deal with any issue, including depression. As I stated before, one of its major side effects is "memory loss!" Other side effects include hallucinations and inability to engage in activities once enjoyed. Whether temporary or not, that is akin to torture in my opinion. Antidepressants if used properly (along with therapy) are often quite effective, if you have a therapist who is in the long run committed to your well-being. In fact, I am quite certain that aside from the Lord, CBT was most effective in my learning to live with what was previously dignosed as "Clinical Depression." I now take only paxil, and though I now understand that it was God who really changed my life, He brought me to therapists who were understanding, loving and committed to my goal of becoming well again. My depression episodes were daily, usually 8 to 10 hours a day. Now, that I have been through CBT sessions, my depression episodes are only once or twice a month, because therapy helped me to get to the root of my problem, and helped me to understand that I could become the master of my own thought habits again. I still have anxiety attacks once in a while in public places, but now I am able to go into public and deal with that without much difficulty even without medication. ECT is sometimes used for autism by the way. Though I understand that its use for autism is currently rare, some doctors are looking at the possibility of treating children with autism with ECT in the future (by the way, some already do, with the consent of the care-giver). According to the Washington Post: "There are recent speculations that certain types of autism may be the earliest expression of catatonia and that both disorders have identical risk factors. Therefore, ECT may improve autism and, if started early enough, may prevent further development of autistic symptoms in some children." Sounds good, right? But the Post is in truth probably reciting what an ECT supporting doctor said in that article. I don't think a Post editor is an expert on therapy of autistic patients.

    [I will comment on the video after viewing it.]
    (more)
  • Raithere Chad 2012/09/04 00:12:26
    Raithere
    "would you say that it is better to teach a child verbally that his hand can be burned on a burner on a stove, or to place his hand on a stove and say "see the burner burns" or to give the child room to place his own hand on a burner and be burnt through his own experience"

    Better is subjective, the question is, what works?

    There are many different approaches, some work for some people others don't. What I am saying is that making broad generalizations about any of them misses the mark. You can't just say that A is good and B is bad, because A doesn't work for everyone. ECT does have an appropriate and humane use even if it's not the right course for everyone.
  • Chad Raithere 2012/10/11 20:32:18
    Chad
    Better is subjective, the question is, what works?

    The deeper issue than "what works" is a spiritual one... but one you don't seem to want to hear, Yet a message, Christian desciples were given to teach... It is not me who wrote that "Jesus said, I am the way the way, the truth, and the life." His message was a message of love. If you can use shock-therapy in a loving way, and know without any doubt whatsoever that it will be more effective than patient {longsuffering}, long-term, loving and sacrificial care, then may the Lord of Heaven bless you; but if you cannot, then why use it? I still cannot understand how anyone can justify a method of supposed "care" that has a known major side-effect of memory-loss. Also, I have given an example of alternative treatment that works. Although very basic, my example showed three methods that "worked" to teach the same principle. But which one is morally sound? Patient, long-term, loving, care, is becoming increasingly more and more rare these days...
  • Raithere Chad 2012/10/12 06:17:35
    Raithere
    "The deeper issue than "what works" is a spiritual one... but one you don't seem to want to hear"

    This is because I already understand and I don't need a refresher course. I find it presumptuous and more than a little arrogant that you presume to instruct me.

    "If you can use shock-therapy in a loving way, and know without any doubt whatsoever that it will be more effective"

    Without any doubt whatsoever, is quite an extraordinary statement, particularly when predicting the future. Anyone claiming this level of knowledge is delusional

    "than patient {longsuffering}, long-term, loving and sacrificial care"

    Patient and loving I agree with, the rest is vanity. Patience is not suffering and love isn't sacrifice.

    "I still cannot understand how anyone can justify a method of supposed "care" that has a known major side-effect of memory-loss."

    It's rather simple actually. When the symptom is worse than the side effect. When drugs and therapy don't work some short term memory loss becomes trivial. There are also side effects to medication, particularly long term.

    "Also, I have given an example of alternative treatment that works."

    Not in every case, no. I'm glad they worked for you, but if you take the time to watch the video I posted you might come to realize that everyone does not respond the same to treatment.
  • Grammar Freak 2012/05/30 16:45:32
  • Mr.Hoodz the Truth Troll 2012/05/29 13:14:20
    Cruel
    Mr.Hoodz the Truth Troll
    +1
    Instead of cruel the choice should be CRIMINAL. Why can the state do things to children their own parents can't even do without spending time in jail? Makes no sense.
  • Grammar... Mr.Hood... 2012/05/30 14:26:34
    Grammar Freak
    That's right.
    Absolutely!
    Hear! Hear!
    The best point made thus far!
  • newhon63 2012/05/28 16:53:31
    Cruel
    newhon63
    +1
    My son is an autistic. he is higher functioning. Who the hell do these people think they ? They are educators, not medical personnel. What would they have done had they physically injured these kids? I don't see any mention of medical people present at this so called "therapy", so all I can say is I will be waiting to hear about charges being leveled against all those involved. It's not like just anyone can get their hands on this equipment and for that matter who authorized the purchase of it for this school?
  • Tim24 2012/05/28 16:01:12
    Constructive
    Tim24
    If the treatment works, than why not?
    People do a lot more harmful/ ridiculous treatments looking for a cure,
    and this actually has scientific research proving it sometimes works.

    As long as the Know and give consent.
  • El Prez 2012/05/27 22:11:15
    Constructive
    El Prez
    Really don't have enough information to know. Seems cruel but I do not know.
  • Mr.Hood... El Prez 2012/05/29 13:15:30
    Mr.Hoodz the Truth Troll
    Put yourself in the kid's shoes. Would you feel it's constructive then?
  • El Prez Mr.Hood... 2012/05/29 18:23:50
    El Prez
    +1
    Right!! But there are some constructive things that don't feel good. I would really want a lot more information before making a decision.
  • VintageWolf 2012/05/27 18:30:59
    Cruel
    VintageWolf
    the 50 people who think this is constructive should be tazered
  • mrsgrint<3 2012/05/26 20:47:03
    Cruel
    mrsgrint<3
    +2
    Some people would consider this good!? What kind of sick world is this!?
  • maryam 2012/05/26 04:47:40
    Cruel
    maryam
    ITS A SHOCKING NEWS IT SHOULD BE STOPPED HUMAN RIGHTS PEOPLE SHOULD LOOK INTO THIS MATTER
  • Viki Vaughn 2012/05/25 23:56:00
    Cruel
    Viki Vaughn
    +1
    wtf is constructive about using shock therapy on anyone with disorders/problems?
  • jeanne Blue 2012/05/25 19:34:14
    Cruel
    jeanne Blue
    Frankly, shocking!! To take a vulnerable person and subject them to this is wrong. It's a truly inexact 'science' and could add to the problem. I wouldn't want my kid to be a guinea pig. There are many other ways to deal with this population. They take energy and dedication and too. The brain is a complicated and delicate thing.
  • Torchmanner ~PWCM~JLA 2012/05/25 14:59:06
    Cruel
    Torchmanner ~PWCM~JLA
    Waterboard the teachers. This should not be going on in a 'school'.
  • newhon63 Torchma... 2012/05/28 17:26:41
    newhon63
    A more fitting punishment is to give each of them a turm "in therapy" so they can see how it. At the very least I'd say all of their careers are over in education. but I hope they all see jail time.
  • moviebuff 2012/05/25 13:53:47
    Cruel
    moviebuff
    +1
    Oh, my god! This is really disturbing. This poor child subjected to this outdated, ineffective method. This is not the 1940's, there way better treatments today. I can't believe I'm seeing this. Who are these people anyway? Maybe someone should Electric Shock them. Evil Mother F*****s.
  • Jebuz_Mutation 2012/05/25 12:33:48
    Cruel
    Jebuz_Mutation
    +1
    Cruel, Hell, the UN has even called it torture
  • Elaine Magliacane 2012/05/25 11:25:20
    Cruel
    Elaine Magliacane
    Why not attach leeches to cure them? This is STOOPID cruel and serves no purpose except the twisted people that are tired of dealing with difficult children.
  • LMaree 2012/05/25 09:50:39
    Cruel
    LMaree
    +1
    I haven't seen or heard of ECT being beneficial for autism. It's also concerning that it is being carried out in a school. There are far better ways to cope with sensory challenges.
  • Couri 2012/05/25 09:33:00
    Cruel
    Couri
    +1
    The school needs to be shut down and the parents need to have their kids taken away if they knew this was going on.

    Death by Electrocution is considered a cruel and unusual punishment for murderers. But hey, let's do the same thing to a kid without the death part and everything's fine????
  • Haley 2012/05/25 08:35:45 (edited)
    Constructive
    Haley
    +2
    I don't know enough about this case to determine if it was or was not cruel, but i am suspicious that it was cruel because the center tried to withhold the footage and I have never heard of any evidence or even theories that shock therapy can be beneficial for people with autism. Then again I'm hardly an autism or an ECT expert.
    However, the question asked was if shock therapy can be constructive and the answer to that is yes. Shock therapy is often seen as medieval and in the past it was often used cruelly. Today, however, it can be beneficial for people with severe depression that doesn't respond to anti-depressants,.
    http://www.electroboy.com/ele...
  • Chukroast 2012/05/25 07:26:18
    Constructive
    Chukroast
    +1
    Constructive if it helps; cruel if it doesn't.
  • ☆Snapefangirl☆ 2012/05/25 04:41:11 (edited)
    Cruel
    ☆Snapefangirl☆
    I thought we were supposed to be civilized, not a bunch of barbarians. That is no way to treat children.
  • Grandbrother 2012/05/25 04:17:27
    Cruel
    Grandbrother
    +3
    Downright barbaric. These people should probably be arrested.
  • chrystal97 2012/05/25 04:17:23
    Cruel
    chrystal97
    +2
    Didn't we already find out this DOESN'T work? Shouldn't this be considered torture and in prison all those involved.
  • Kyle 2012/05/25 03:37:49
  • sally 2012/05/25 01:49:48
    Cruel
    sally
    +1
    It ends up doing a greater amount of damage....
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